He’s only been at Yale for a short while, but Andy Shay, the new men’s lacrosse head coach, is already having a great time.

“I’m ecstatic,” he said. “This is the opportunity of a lifetime, and things are going great.”

After nearly a year of coaching uncertainty for the team, Athletics Director Tom Beckett announced this summer that Shay, a former assistant coach at the University of Massachusetts, would take over coaching duties.

The announcement came after the team played last season under two different coaches. Mike Waldvogel left the program in January after 23 years following an athletic department investigation into possible rules violations, and assistant coach Darryl Delia was made interim head coach at that time. The solution was not a permanent one, and administrators sought to hire a new coach.

They found Shay, who had served as the defensive coordinator for the Minutemen for four years and also handled much of their recruiting. His defense was one of the top units in Division I, and the team made it to the NCAA quarterfinals his last two seasons. The Minutemen won three New England and two ECAC titles while compiling a 37-9 record for the past three years.

“After only brief meetings it is clear that he brings a style of intensity and intelligence to the game,” goalie Roy Skeen ’03 said. “It is refreshing and infectious.”

Before going to Massachusetts, Shay served as an assistant coach at Delaware and helped propel the team to the NCAA Tournament. In the summer of 1999, he helped coach Team USA to victory over Team Canada in the first World Cup of Lacrosse.

Shay will be joined by Graham Niemi, who comes to New Haven from Washington College in Chestertown, Md.

They come to a Yale team with a good deal of talent and experience. Last season, the team finished with a somewhat disappointing record of 9-5, which included a 12-10 loss to Shay’s Minutemen. But with some top seniors back for their final year and a good group of underclassmen, the Elis have the potential for a strong season.

“It’s far too early to tell, and we haven’t even started practice,” Shay said. “The only things I know is what we prepared for in the scouting report at UMass, but we’ve got key scorers back.”