Schoeffel shines: Starsia reject stars in Duke victory

Charlottesville native Steve Schoeffel scored two goals in Duke's victory over the Irish.

Duke lacrosse player C.J. Costabile is getting some well-deserved attention for his lighting-fast goal in the Blue Devil’s 6-5 overtime win against Notre Dame in the 2010 NCAA men's lacrosse championship yesterday, but without a certain Charlottesville native and Covenant School alum, Costabile may never have had such a shot at glory.

Midfielder Steve Schoeffel, a fifth-year senior on the Duke squad and son of local physicians Cindy and Mark Schoeffel, scored two goals in yesterday’s contest.

"It was very exciting," says Cindy Schoeffel. "I'm afraid I don’t have much of a voice. This is the fourth time we've been there, and it was very thrilling to finally be hugging each other."

Indeed, while Duke fans embraced, Virginia coach Dom Starsia may have been kicking himself.

According to Cindy, who played field hockey at the University of Wisconsin, her son grew up a Virginia fan, but when he met Starsia during Virginia camps, the coach told him he was a good player but "not what I'm looking for."

"Steve is small and fast," says Cindy, "and I guess Dom was looking for football players who played lacrosse."

But then Duke coach Mike Pressler saw something in the young man. After Steve attended Duke's camps, the Schoeffels received weekly letters from Pressler.

news-schoeffel-actionSchoeffel in action during the quarterfinals against UNC.

"They were very nice about recruiting him," says Cindy. "Mike told us it was not what Steve was now as a player, but what he would become."

However, heading off to play lacrosse at Duke in 2006 had its challenges. Pressler resigned following allegations that Duke players had raped a stripper they had hired for a party, allegations eventually proven to be false. In fact, Steve Schoeffel was able to play this season only because he was one of the players allowed a fifth year of eligibility by the NCAA after the 2006 season ended in the wake of the “Duke lacrosse scandal.” While Pressler was the one who wanted Schoeffel, new coach John Danowski became the one to help him mature as a player.

"That was a very difficult year," says Cindy of the 2006 season, "but I think it helped the boys to consider that everything they do matters"–- a lesson that Duke's athletic department had to learn as well, she says.

Ironically, Schoeffel also helped take down number-one ranked Virginia in the semi-final match-up May 29, during perhaps the Virginia program’s darkest days.

"We're very sad for both families," says Cindy, reflecting on the murder of a female UVA lacrosse player allegedly by a member of the UVA men's squad. Like the aftermath of the "Duke scandal" that her son and their family had to endure, she hopes some good will come of the tragedy.

For a time, Schoeffel played with another Covenant star on the Duke squad, midfielder Bo Carrington. In 2008, the Daily Progress interviewed them both about the Duke rape scandal. On the other side of the field yesterday, Schoeffel faced off against another local standout, Max Pfeifer, a sophomore midfielder for the Irish who was a star at Western Albemarle.

Coverage of the game by the New York Times includes a great shot of Schoeffel celebrating after the victory, which was Duke’s first NCAA title.


John Danowski wasn't the head coach at Duke when Schoeffel was being recruited.

At that point, Mike Pressler hadn't been forced out and was still the coach that would have been recruiting Schoeffel.

Schoeffel was a freshman on the 2006 squad that had their season suspended.

Danowski was still the head coach at Hofstra.

He's a great player, but the article should get the facts straight.

wow! a hook reader engaging in generalizations and casting subtle aspersions about a group of people related by their enjoyment of a particular sport.

Now that's unpredictable!

Congrats to the Duke boys! I bet ol' boss hogg is all atwitter!

Tim is correct. Mike Pressler was the one who recruited Steve Schoeffel. The article has been updated with the correct information.

Dave McNair

A juggernaut, by its definition, is "an overwhelming, advancing force that crushes or seems to crush everything in its path."

uva has proven time and time again to be very stoppable.

Wow! A lacrosse player with shaggy hair, and from a private school.

This world is getting so unpredictable

"uva has proven time and time again to be very stoppable."

"Very stoppable?" I don't even know what that means.

In the NCAA playoffs every year except one since Starsia arrived, with 3 NCAA titles, 11 Final Fours, and a .748 winning percentage. 150-72 against top 20 teams, 24-6 when they're the #1 team, and 169-45 when they're in the top 5. That doesn't sound like "very stoppable" to me.

I can't think of too many programs in any sport that wouldn't LOVE to have that kind of record.

When you are coaching a juggernaut like UVA LAX, you are going to "reject" quite a few good and great players. You only have so many scholarships available to offer. Doesn't reflect negatively on Starsia in any way.

Wow! A message board turning into users just commenting on others posts instead of the actualy article. Lacrosse is too easy for words.