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Lacrosse's dynamic duo: Every little thing they do is magic Phillip Brents | Fri, Apr 25 2014 02:23 PM

Ryan Hayes and Jordan Vicente have established themselves as the Eastlake High School boys lacrosse team’s dynamic duo. Their names are usually found next to each other on the scoresheet, whether recording an assist or scoring a goal.

They are runaway leaders on the team’s scoring chart, though neither admits to statistic watching. The diminutive Hayes, a senior, leads the towering Vicente, a junior, by eight points following Monday’s 15-4 Mesa League victory against the visiting Bonita Vista Barons.

The team’s primary assist-maker, Hayes has 56 points on 26 goals and 30 assists; Vicente, the team’s scoring ace, has 48 points on 38 goals and 10 assists.

Senior Jake Randall is next in team scoring with 24 points on 12 goals and 12 assists — a distant 24 points behind Vicente.

It’s too early to call a winner in league play, though it appears the Titans (9-3 overall, 3-0 in league) have to be considered a strong favorite. Hayes and Vicente have clearly put their names out as player of the year candidates. It’s not too early to notice superior talent when one sees it.

“Both of these guys have worked hard to improve their game and it’s shown,” EHS coach Nestor Rosas said. “They’ve both embraced the game of lacrosse.”

Hayes and Vicente haven’t risen to the top of their craft by accident. It’s taken a lot of hard work and commitment — and hundreds of miles logged in cross-country travel. The old adage holds true with these two standout playmakers: in order to be the best, one has to play the best.

Hayes and Vicente couldn’t have more dissimilar body builds, yet they both have excelled.

Vicente stands 6-2 and weighs 165 pounds. Coaches affectionately have termed him “the tallest Filipino” they’ve ever seen.

Hayes is officially listed on the Titan roster as 5-6 and 135 pounds. He plays like he’s Vicente’s twin tower.
“My driver’s license says I’m 5-4 but I’ll take 5-7,” he said, offering his trademark wide smile.

Neither were the team’s star power brokers last season — those honors were reserved for player of the year Casey Stanko and senior co-captain Devon Ballow, and the spirit of comrade-in-arms Tommy Henderson.

But Hayes and Vicente were pegged as the team’s go-to guys for 2014. That meant a lot of off-season preparation and a lot of responsibility.

Hayes competed for Brady’s Bunch, coached by lacrosse guru Mike Wein and named in honor of Wein’s 5-year-old son who suffers from acute myelogenous leukemia. Though the club is based in Arizona, it draws players from 18 states and two nations — the United States and Canada.

Hayes competed in tournaments throughout the western United States with the team. Besides playing club teams in high-level tournament play, members of Brady’s Bunch also get a chance to gather together and share experiences from their lives.

“It was a great experience playing for Brady,” Hayes noted. “It was a good experience for a good cause. It made you appreciate your own life more. It opened my eyes up.”

Vicente, another Brady’s Bunch alumnus, played for a West Coast all-star team during the summer and actually got a chance to travel to Boston to experience the game in one of the nation’s hotbeds for the sport.

“I thought there would be a huge difference between East and West and actually there wasn’t that much difference,” he noted. “I think the East Coast kids rely more on their stick skills and the West Coast kids rely more on their athletic ability.”

Hayes and Vicente, both former South Bay Outlaws youth players, share team captain duties with three other players on the team. Hayes leads the team on the field amid a cascade of war whoops — something new this year.

“I’ve got to make sure everyone on the team picks up the tempo,” Hayes said.

In other words, he leads by example.

“Ryan has been making steady progress since his freshman year and really stepped it up this year,” Rosas noted. “He’s taken the captain job to heart and taken the team under his wing. When he was a freshman, he was quiet and content to follow everyone; now he’s become a great leader.

“He makes everybody work hard just like he does. He’s not a physical guy but he keeps up with anyone.”

Hayes admits his short stature has made him adjust his game. “I’m not the kind of guy who can run through guys, so I’ve learned to run around them,” he said. “That’s why I’m making so many passes and picking up so many assists.”
The Titan coach calls Vicente “just an all-around athletic guy.”

“This (lacrosse) just happens to be his sport,” Rosas said. “He has a hard and accurate shot, dodges well and has good ball skills. He already had four or five years of experience (in youth lacrosse) when he got to high school, so he had an edge on less experienced players. He’s also more ambidextrous than most kids. He’s solid in all the fundamentals. He’s helped make us a competitive team.”

“In my middie position, I’m going back and forth a lot,” Vicente said. “I’m going to do the majority of the dodging and to help people get open.”

Vicente and Hayes have exchanged leading roles throughout the season.

Hayes opened the season with four goals and one assist in an 11-1 non-league win over Valhalla and contributed four goals and four assists in an ensuing 17-1 non-league victory against Santana while Vicente scored five goals and an assist in early season non-league wins over Serra and Mira Mesa.

Hayes had a career day with 11 points on eight goals and three assists in a 21-0 non-league win at Chula Vista on April 10 and followed that with six goals and one assist in a 20-1 victory at Hilltop on April 14.

Vicente collected seven goals and one assist in Monday’s win over the Barons.

Hayes has committed to attend Grand Canyon University and plans to try out for the college’s club lacrosse team, which is ranked nationally.

Thus, the Titans’ pint-size terror is that much more determined to excel his senior year.

“I want to make a good impression, I want the (Grand Canyon University) coaches to notice how much I want to make their team,” said Hayes, who has six years of playing experience behind him at the youth and prep levels.

“He’s got extra incentive, no question,” Rosas added.

Vicente has already made a recruiting trip to Air Force Academy, and plans trips to other programs in the future.
Both players are hoping this will be the season when the Titans pick up their first-ever playoff victory. To date, no Metro Conference boys lacrosse team has ever won a CIF playoff match.

“This year, we have a lot of people on the team who can score,” Vicente said.

The memory of last year’s first-round playoff match still haunts Eastlake’s returning players. The Titans held a 5-2 halftime lead on East County power Granite Hills, only to see the Eagles score five second-half goals to prevail 7-5.
Eastlake dropped another 7-5 contest to the Eagles early this season in non-league play after leading 4-2 at halftime.
“We’re hoping we can do it this year,” Hayes piped up. “We’re going to try our hardest to make it happen.”

Both players already know about the power of belief.

The Titans continue to play for the memory of Henderson, who died in a swimming pool accident just weeks into the 2013 season. The team lost one of its valued captains but played on, winning 16 consecutive games to close regular season play with an imposing 18-2 record in a heartfelt tribute to  Henderson.

The team sports TH23 stickers on their helmets and patches on their jersey sleeves in remembrance of Henderson.
“Our intensity rose,” Hayes recalled of last year’s inspirational drive to close the season. “We played for him every game and always talked about how he was still part of our team, that he was still our friend.”

“We knew we were on a mission,” Vicente said. “Tommy had always wanted to win the league title and we wanted to win it for him, and we did. Unfortunately, in life, he never got to accomplish it.”

Henderson’s mother was understandably touched by the Titans’ perfect 14-0 Metro Conference season.

“It was emotional,” Hayes said after the final 14-10 win over arch-rival Otay Ranch. “Seeing her (Henderson’s mother Theresa) out there still supporting us made us play that much harder. We all knew he was watching.”

And cheering.

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