La Jolla players help Mad Dog West Elite lacrosse team rank second in the nation

La Jolla players on the Mad Dog West Elite team are (from left): Madden Craig, Nick Marvin, Dane Jorgensen and Brooks Rodger.
La Jolla players on the Mad Dog West Elite team are (from left): Madden Craig, Nick Marvin, Dane Jorgensen and Brooks Rodger.

While most sports teams packed in their gear when the COVID-19 pandemic canceled local games and tournaments, the Mad Dog West Elite lacrosse team — which has four La Jolla players — got creative. It modified practices, signed up for meets in states with less-restrictive guidelines than California and played against more competitive teams.

The effort paid off. U.S. Club Lacrosse ranked the team second in the nation for the class of 2024 (when the boys will graduate from high school).

The La Jolla players are Bishop’s School freshmen Brooks Rodger, Dane Jorgensen and Nick Marvin and La Jolla Country Day School freshman Madden Craig.

“This was an interesting season,” said coach Aeden Herman. “We had restricted practices, not a lot of live play. We were doing a lot of drills and footwork, just the fundamentals. We tried to get the guys as prepared as we could. We were able to attend a tournament in Maryland that had the top programs in the country there. We had a good showing at the Baltimore Classic. We were 6-0 against powerhouse programs from up and down the East Coast, which is not typical for a West Coast team. To run the table like we did put the West Coast teams on the map.”

Lacrosse is more popular on the East Coast, with “10 times more players,” said Nick, who plays the position of attacker and lived in Delaware for 12 years before moving to California.

“When we go to tournaments, we are viewed as less skilled” he said. “It feels good to win East Coast tournaments knowing we aren’t an East Coast team.”

The Mad Dog West Elite lacrosse team celebrates its undefeated run in the Baltimore Classic.

Of the second-place ranking, Herman said that while he and the team are proud, they now have their eyes on first.

“We are just scratching the surface of what we are able to do,” he said. “We want to win out the next few years and send all the kids from our roster to major Division I [college] programs and set them up for success.”

Dane, a defender, said the team’s success comes from its chemistry. “We’re like a family,” he said. “I know that term gets thrown around a lot, but we trust each other so much and know each other so well that it really is true. With our team bonds, especially on defense, I know my other defenders so well I know them by their voice and the way they communicate and I can flow with them. It’s like a hive mind.”

Brooks, a midfielder, agrees. “We have known each other for some time, so it’s a brotherhood,” he said. “Getting back on the field [after ceasing practices briefly due to the pandemic] was a great feeling because we got to reconnect as a team. And when we got back into the game, it reshaped our team into something better than what we had before. I think it actually was an opportunity for us to adapt and get better.”

But with the high ranking, Madden, a midfielder, said the team now has a “target on our back” because it is the best in the West (the No. 1 spot went to a team from Connecticut).

However, he said, Mad Dog West is ready to take on any team it meets. “Our coaching and the team chemistry we have all works well together,” he said. “We can read each other and guess what move our teammate is going to make. Our defense is so tight, it works perfectly.”

Calling lacrosse “the fastest sport on two feet,” Brooks said each member of the team has the speed, skill and endurance to do even better next season.

“Going forward, we want to work our way through COVID and get back out on the field, win as many tournaments as possible,” he said. “One of the things our coach emphasizes is being good on and off the field. So in addition to good players, we want to be good people.” ◆