“If you watch him, when he’s off-ball and someone else scores, he’s by far the most excited guy every time,” said Drew Snider, also a starting midfielder. “There’s times on film where they’ll rewind it and say, ‘Just watch Haus.’ ”
Haus’s celebrations are fitting, because he does just about everything else for the unseeded Terrapins (11-5). He enters Saturday’s NCAA semifinal against No. 3 Duke (15-3) in Foxborough, Mass., with 15 goals and 16 assists.
Maryland comes in as the underdog against the Blue Devils, who have been playing some of their best lacrosse of the season. The other semifinal at the sport’s annual championship weekend features Loyola (Md.) against Notre Dame.
Haus does so much for the team that the coaches limit his participation in practice to keep him fresh.
“For him it’s more about mental reps in practice, because we need him so much on Saturdays,” Maryland Coach John Tillman said.
And what does Haus do?
“He can play in front of the goal,” Tillman said. “He can play behind the goal. He can play defense. He can play offense. He can play as a wing on faceoffs. He scored two goals [in an NCAA quarterfinal] against Hopkins. One lefty, one righty.”
Haus, a 6-foot, 180-pound junior, also is the player who joins the defense once a Maryland penalty has been released. And a few times in his career, he has played man-down defense on top of regular stints on extra-man offense.
“He’s a rarity in that he is a midfielder who is good with the ball and good without it,” said former Maryland coach Dave Cottle, who helped recruit Haus. “Most midfielders are one or the other.”
Haus is equally known for his intangibles. Maryland prides itself on its sideline celebrations following goals or big plays by the defense. Twitter followers have dubbed the sideline celebrations “the Maryland mosh pit.” The sideline celebrators usually find a kindred spirit in Haus.
“I get pretty excited when we score,” Haus said. “I don’t know how to explain it. Having that excitement I guess it brings out my inner child. I think it is one of my better qualities, being excited to play the sport.”
There may have been only one time where lacrosse wasn’t much fun for Haus. He committed to North Carolina in 2008 when his father, John Haus III, was the head coach.
Yet the elder Haus’s contract was not renewed following the 2008 season. In eight years under Haus, the Tar Heels went 58-52 and made the NCAA tournament three times, though their record in the ACC was 6-18.
“I wanted to play for him,” Haus said of his father. “I have so much respect for him. He’s pretty much my role model. . . . With him being let go, I just didn’t feel like [Carolina] was the best place for me.”
Said the elder Haus: “We were all pretty upset. It’s as simple as that. . . . When he first decided on a college, things got disrupted. But he stood tall.”
The younger Haus re-opened his recruitment and Cottle, who was forced to resign after the 2010 season, was among his first suitors.
The younger Haus, who had previously lived in Lutherville, Md., arrived in College Park for his recruiting trip wearing a Baltimore Ravens hat.
“I knew then we had a chance,” Cottle said. Maryland also is the alma mater of his mother, Lisa.
As a freshman in 2010, Haus played on the third midfield. Late in the season, Cottle and current assistant Ryan Moran began keeping stats from the intrasquad scrimmages in practice.
“When [practices] were over Ryan and I would look at each other and say, ‘The third midfield keeps scoring,’ ” Cottle said.
So they gave Haus a chance in the second quarter of a 7-5 NCAA quarterfinal loss to Notre Dame. Haus scored.
“I said, ‘We’re going to invert next time around,’ ” Cottle said. “ ‘And we’re giving it to Johnny Haus.’ Well, he came around and scored. And when he came off the field he hugged me and thanked me for giving him the ball. ‘Thank you for the opportunity,’ he said.”