Country Day boys lacrosse team shows what a difference a year makes

Country Day’s lacrosse team comes of age

The La Jolla Country Day boys lacrosse team ended the season on a down note, losing 12-0 to Coronado on Tuesday night.

Despite that, what a difference a year makes. What a difference a new coach makes.

Last year, the La Jolla County Day boys lacrosse team was in a state of turmoil. With two games remaining on the season, the team dismissed their coach, Mike Tobey. In stepped Rory Hyland, a young coach with an impressive resume that includes a collegiate career at Brown University, an Ivy League school in the middle of the lacrosse-crazed East Coast.

With Hyland at the helm, and a group led by 10 seniors who recommitted themselves to the sport in the offseason, the Torreys won the Coastal-South Conference title for the first time ever in the program’s short four years of existence last week. During the weekend, the team notched its first postseason win as they topped San Marcos 11-9 in a first-round CIF game.

“I knew this team had a lot of potential, but didn’t know where we’d finish, and I still don’t really know,” said Hyland on Monday night. “Our guys came together and they were playing year-round, they were organizing captains’ practices, they were just staying together and playing in the offseason, which I don’t think they have ever done before.”

Even with the season-ending loss, the season was still a huge success. With that and a win over San Marcos — the team’s 14th straight — the Torreys were 16-4 on the season. Not bad, especially considering the team’s ho-hum start to the season.

“When we were 2-3 (early in the season) people were like, ‘Oh, that’s the lacrosse team, they are not that good, they are having more fun (this season) it seems like,’” Hyland said. “People were just expecting it to continue as it has gone (in the past) and now people are definitely taking notice, they are much more in tune to what’s going on. I think they are starting to notice that our guys are definitely more upbeat than they have ever been.”

According to the players, Hyland has been a huge asset to the team, both on the field and off it.

“I think the biggest change was the new coaching staff coming in, getting us back together — thanks to them they got us here,” senior Jake Hamilton said.

With a new coach, there was a fresh start for many players, including Jason McCallum, a standout on the track team and former lacrosse player — that was until Hyland took over. Despite earning a track scholarship to Middlebury College next fall, Hyland asked McCallum to re-join the team, even if he was unable to practice.

That type of approach has been a catalyst to this year’s success.

“Last year, it was kinda interesting. We mostly kinda had everyone, we didn’t really add any key players this year,” said senior goalie David Farley. “I just think the difference between last year and this year is that were really focused, we were ready to practice and we want to get out there.

“It’s been great, Rory’s awesome,” he added. “It’s really smoothed out. Everyone likes him, everyone plays hard for him and it’s just been wonderful.”

The season has been a huge success and has set the foundation for years to come, or at least that’s the expectation now if you ask Hyland.

“I think we do expect that — that is our goal,” he said. “But we do recognize that it will be a lot more difficult to do something like this next year? Not only because we are going to lose 10 seniors, but also just because it’s nice being the little guy who sneaks up on ya — and we’re not going to be able to do that next year.”