Composure and calmness cannot be taught. They must be innate. Men’s soccer captain Brian Lavin ’02 possesses both of those attributes, and it is those qualities which make him such a valuable leader and asset to the 2001 Bulldogs.

Lavin, a two-time All-Ivy selection, has been the stalwart on the Eli defense since his sophomore year, when he made the switch from center midfield to defense.

During the 2000 campaign Lavin started all 17 games in the backfield and racked up the first two goals of his career, both in Ivy League competition. He was also awarded with the Walter J. McNerney Award as the team’s most valuable player.

Lavin grew up in nearby Guilford, Conn., where he began playing soccer at the age of five. Playing at the center midfield position, Lavin compiled an impressive record at Guilford High School, leading his team to an 18-1-1 record and a No. 10 national ranking his senior year. He was also honored as a 1997 All-American and as the 1997 Connecticut and New England player of the year.

Unfortunately for Lavin and the Bulldogs, he went down with an injury in the first game of his freshman year.

After the injury, whether or not as a direct result, Lavin moved back to defense from the midfield position he had formerly played. Ever since the move, Lavin has been a fire-stopper of sorts for the Elis.

“Brian always looks like he’s got lots of time on the ball,” head coach Brian Tompkins said. “He doesn’t panic. He puts out fires with his calmness and composure when the defensive alarm bells are ringing.”

Tompkins said that Lavin is well-suited to being a playmaking defender in the backfield.

“He’s an excellent technical player with great vision,” Tompkins said. “He seems to have a technical response for every situation.”

Lavin’s physical presence on the field also provides added strength to the Bulldog defense. Standing 6 feet 3 inches tall, Lavin wins a vast majority of defensive headers, a vital component to stymieing offensive surges.

“Every team knows he’s there and we know he’s there,” said Michael Fitzsimmons ’03, who has played defense with Lavin for more than two years. “His presence solidifies the whole team.”

Along with his defensive heading abilities, Lavin said that there have been other keys to his success on the pitch.

“I think that along with winning balls in the air, passing and good field vision are the strongest parts of my game,” Lavin said. “But I think my biggest improvement has come in my realization of the need to be an effective player more than anything. You have to do what it takes to win. You can’t always play the way you want.”

Lavin’s team leadership has also flourished during his days as a Bulldog. Leading more by example and on-field play in his initial years on the squad, he has developed into more of a vocal leader both on and off the field.

“Brian captained a very successful team in high school,” Tompkins said. “But over the past few years he has developed and matured into a leader of college men. He has become a more assertive and vocal leader.”

Fellow senior Brian Larkin agreed that Lavin’s attitude and demeanor has rubbed off on all of the Elis.

“Brian’s standards are incredibly high,” Larkin said. “His demands of himself as well as other players has helped the team reach new levels.”

The Lavin-led Bulldogs have enjoyed early season success, receiving the No. 22 ranking in the nation after upsetting the University of Alabama-Birmingham last weekend to win the Yale-Fila Classic at the Yale Soccer-Lacrosse Stadium.

This weekend the Elis look to continue their strong play when they host Cornell.