Jake Haase was a three-time Independent School League All-Star for the Belmont Hill lacrosse team. But as a freshman at Williams, the 20-year-old attack from Wayland has been the best first-year player in the New England Small College Athletic Conference.
In the NESCAC semifinals last weekend, Haase put on display why he was the conference’s top rookie, tallying two goals and three assists in an 11-8 comeback win over Amherst. Showcasing his stick skills in the third quarter, the 6-foot, 180-pound Haase darted from behind the net, fought to the crease through two defensemen, and ripped a shot home to give Williams a 6-5 lead. He added two goals and five assists in the final, a 17-16 overtime loss at Tufts.
After Williams took its NCAA Division 3 first-round game against Keene State, 21-10, on Wednesday, Haase had racked up a team-leading 91 points (31 goals, 60 assists), and the Williams squad was a program-best 16-3.
“Jake is a very talented lacrosse player,” said Williams coach George McCormack. “He possesses great vision for distributing the ball and an ability to separate himself from defenders to both dodge and feed.”
Haase took a few minutes to chat with the Globe during the NESCAC tourney.
Q. What does winning NESCAC rookie of the year mean to you?
A. That was super exciting. I totally didn’t know what was going on and all of a sudden everyone was letting me know ‘Oh, you won rookie of the year,’ and I was just so excited. But with our team doing so well this year, the individual accolades mean nothing as long as we’re successful.
Q. What was the biggest difference between playing in the ISL and playing Division 3?
A. A lot of the guys from the prep league are in this league, so it’s funny because I’m used to seeing a lot of them, which is pretty cool. The biggest difference, though, is definitely the speed, especially with the shot clock, since it’s a new rule this year and I’ve never played with that in high school, so that made the game faster than ever.
Q. Did you think all of the individual and team success was possible going into your first year at Williams?
A. I really had no idea. I went into the season without any expectations for anything and I was just trying to work as hard as I could to get on the field, and then from there I was just working as hard as I could on the field.
Q. You had 10 points on 3 goals and 7 assists earlier in the season in a win at Colorado College. What was going through your head that day?
A. So that was a crazy game because it was snowing so much, the game actually got postponed like an hour, so it started really late at night. The whole thing was crazy, there was lightning before the game and it was thundering and then we get out there and you can barely see the ground sometimes because of all the snow, so it was a crazy game of lacrosse.
Q. As a feeder and a high-percentage shooter [73 percent shots on goal], what do you look for to make the right play?
A. People get on me all the time for not shooting when they think I have a good shot, but I just try to get the best look we can. A good shot for me can be an even better shot for someone else, so I just try to see the field and get as many layups as possible.
Q. What’s been the biggest challenge for you this year?
A. This year, I’ve been playing lefty attack, and last year I didn’t have a single goal lefty, so I’ve been trying to work on that and use both hands as much as possible. We returned two righty attackman and graduated a lefty attackmen, so I kind of filled that role.
Q. What’s been the key to success for you in your first year?
A. I love our offensive schemes. They free me up and the rest of the team gets open a lot, so I just keep playing within the schemes and not doing anything too crazy or trying to be a hero. I just try to work within the schemes of the offense and that has been working so far.