NEW MILFORD -- Moments after the Notre Dame men's lacrosse team ended Virginia's reign as national champion in suburban Philadelphia last Sunday to secure its own spot in this weekend's Final Four, Janice Dobson uttered the perfect headline from her seat in the Irish's pre-designated fan section.
"I just said, `Oh, brother,'" recalled Janice, who this afternoon will assume a different identity when the fourth-seeded Irish meet the top-seeded Greyhounds of Loyola in the first of two national semifinals at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass (2:30 p.m., ESPN2).
"I'm a Mama Irish `Hound," Janice said, laughing at more of her handiwork. "I'm not rooting for a team. But I'll celebrate every goal."
For the Dobsons, a sampling of extended family, friends and everyone else watching back home in New Milford, today's a win-win. They don't really have a dog in this fight because in either event, a Dobson will be playing for a national title Monday.
Devon Dobson, a 6-foot-1, 180-pound, senior short-stick defensive midfielder, wears No. 22 for the Irish. His younger brother, Philip, a 6-foot-5, 215-pound junior who patrols the offensive midfield, sports the same digits for the Greyhounds.
Mom, Dad and big brother, Tom, are all ecstatic, sure. And it's an easy choice for the shining moment in the modest history of Green Wave lacrosse (c. 1997). But Janice will be happiest, she admits, when the family gets to take a breather between games Sunday.
"It's like, you have five fingers on your hand and which one can you live without?" Janice said, referring to the downside of all this, that one of her boys will come up empty on the doorstep of a dream come true. "It's all good. It's all bad, but it's all good."
Another tough decision? Which section should the Dobsons occupy Saturday, a conundrum they were ultimately able to tackle creatively through the use of special tickets that permit mid-game switching.
Although if you ask Philip, the issue could have been resolved much simpler.
"They should sit on the Loyola side," offered Philip, 21, after practice Wednesday night, "because we're going to win."
Devon, your thoughts?
"I'm not surprised," texted Devon, 23, later that night. "Part of him is fairly immature."
That's how it goes during Final Four week, when brother-to-brother texting gets icy and injury report inquiries are met with "Oh, wouldn't you like to know?"
But by and large the Dobson brothers are a tight bunch, dating back to backyard lacrosse games that first began to take precedence over all other sports when Devon brought home his first stick as a third grader.
"I brought home my stick and we were just messing around with it," Devon said. "We were all kind of tired of baseball at that point."
Within the next year, they all made the switch from little league to youth lacrosse. Three boys. Three different skill sets. All three of them falling for a strange new game as their friends pursued more conventional ones.
Tom, 25, an attackman, has since retired his stick in favor of a guitar, but he was the first to make an impact with New Milford High's fledgling lacrosse program. Devon played two years with each brother. You would have to pry the Dobsons off the practice field, long after everybody else headed for home.
"This is a testament to their work ethic," said friend and former teammate Doug Kuring, who became the first Green Wave player to play Division I lacrosse when he landed at Fairfield University in 2007. "We were always out there practicing, doing whatever we could to get better. They are where they are for a reason. They didn't get there just by chance. They're at the stage that they should be... Don't expect either of them to go easy on each other."
Devon doesn't like to say he paved the way for Philip, but his experience with the recruiting process -- the camps, the showcases, the summer games -- certainly informed Phil's. And Devon wasn't afraid to, uh, inform Philip whenever the two shared the field.
"He got in my face a couple times, but it was all constructive criticism," said Philip. "It's definitely helped me out to get to where I am today."
"Devon definitely has a lot of humility, he takes things very seriously -- he's a hard-nosed kind of kid," Kuring said. "(Philip) takes things lightly, and I think it's helped him stay calm at times, during those intense moments on the field."
There's no greater proof of that than in Philip's self-scouting report, which he's happy to share.
"(Growing up) I was just a better shooter, a better stick-handler," Philip said. "I'm just, you know...you can put this in the newspaper, I'm just a better athlete."
All their jabbing aside, both brothers are confident they can switch gears for Monday's game and become a fan of the other's team for the day.
"Of course," Devon said. "Whatever happens, he's either going to be rooting for me or I'm going to be rooting for him."
On an assist from Tom, Janice won't have trouble deciding on gameday attire. A day after the Irish punched their ticket, Tom went to work on a Team Dobson t-shirt that's a down-the-middle mash-up of both teams' motifs -- think rapper Nelly's Giants-Ravens Super Bowl halftime show hybrid -- that will allow the Dobsons to blend in on either side.
The official mom of the Final Four might have a harder time of that if she's granted her preferred Gillette Stadium transport.
"Maybe I'll need a golf cart to go between the fans," Janice said. "It's all a lot of fun."
Contact Chris Brodeur at email@example.com or at 203-731-3378. Follow him on Twitter: @BrodeurDNT.