With sticks in their hands, the three Conestoga youth lacrosse teammates sat, nearly a decade ago, in the green seats of Lincoln Financial Field's Section 101.

Playing lacrosse in college was not even a thought then, Brian Dailey said.

So as Dailey, Tanner Scott, and Jamie Ikeda watched Duke lose to Johns Hopkins in the 2005 NCAA final, they had no idea they were glimpsing into their future.

Now Duke teammates, the three will return to the Linc on Saturday afternoon when the Blue Devils face Cornell in a national semifinal at 2:30 p.m.

"We definitely dreamed about it," said Ikeda, a freshman defender. "But it wasn't expected."

Matt Danowski, now their assistant coach at Duke, scored a pair of goals that Monday afternoon. It's interesting, Dailey said, that now they are the players that young fans watch.

After advancing through Conestoga's youth program, the three helped Conestoga High to three straight PIAA titles. They were groomed for the Division I level by Pioneers coach Brian Samson and a staff of former collegiate players.

"We were all playing with each other since we were, like, 6 or 7 years old," Scott said. "It's easy to do well when you're playing with the same people."

The three Conestoga players are joined at Duke by Jordan Wolf of Lower Merion and former Malvern Prep defensemen Henry Lobb and Billy Conners.

Dan Wigrizer, a senior goalie from the Haverford School, has missed most of the season with a concussion.

Sometime late in elementary school, Lobb said he and Wolf realized they were good at lacrosse and "might be able to do something with it." They researched teams online and were enamored with Duke's jerseys. That was all they needed.

"They had their names on the back, and we were like, 'Oh my God, that's awesome,' " said Lobb, who grew up in Narberth.

Wolf, who grew up in Wynnewood, always loved to win, Lobb said. He has a team-high 49 goals this season and is a two-time all-Atlantic Coast Conference selection. The credit goes to his teammates, Wolf said.

"We share the ball, and I've just been fortunate enough to be in the right spot at the right time," he said.

The best friends moved up from the Lower Merion youth soccer fields to an area youth lacrosse program before splitting up for high school. It's awesome that they were able to reunite at Duke, Wolf said.

"This is what we've been dreaming of since we were playing soccer together when we were 8 years old," Lobb said. "We've been talking about it our whole lives, and it's surreal that it's here."

>Inquirer.com

Online only: Analysis of the women's lacrosse semifinals. www.inquirer.com/ncaalax

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Contact Matt Breen at mbreen@phillynews.com.