For two former members of the Yale lacrosse team, graduation will not mark the end of their playing days.
On Jan. 26, former Bulldogs Brian Hunt ’02 and Ned Britt ’04 were picked up in the 2005 Major League Lacrosse Supplemental Draft, held in Philadelphia. Hunt was picked by the Boston Cannons in the sixth round and Britt was picked by the New Jersey Pride in the 14th round.
Hunt was one of the best attackmen in the Ivy League during his career at Yale. In 2000, he scored 31 goals and added 15 assists. In 2001, he finished with 28 goals and 30 assists. He was named first-team All-Ivy, New England Player of the Year, and an honorable mention All-American that year.
But Hunt’s Yale career was cut short with an ankle injury halfway through his senior year. Despite only playing with Hunt during the fall of 2001, Yale captain D.J. Barry ’05 said Hunt was one of the best players he has played with.
“You couldn’t get the ball out of his stick,” Barry said. “He was incredible. He could run through anyone.”
Defenseman Brian Mulholland ’05 expressed similar sentiments and said playing with Hunt in the fall made him a better defensive player.
“He is more of a dodger than a shooter,” Mulholland said. “Coming in as a freshman and having to guard him was tough and he made me look ridiculous at times. It’s terrible that we couldn’t have him for the season that year. He’s a really crafty player whose moves are out-of-control ridiculous.”
Since Hunt could not play his senior year, as he had surgery on his ankle, he used his remaining year of eligibility to earn a master’s degree in finance at the University of Maryland in 2003. His 21 goals and 10 assists helped the Terps on their way to the postseason, where they made it to the Final Four before losing to Virgina.
Britt, a midfielder, also contributed offensively while at Yale. His slightly unorthodox style of shooting underhand while on the run helped him score 90 career goals, ranking him eighth among all-time scorers at Yale. During his senior year, Britt’s 30 goals and 13 assists ranked him first in point scoring and second in goals scored behind Seth Goldberg ’05. Goldberg said Britt’s on-the-go shot was vital to his success.
“When you are a midfielder and you are dodging, if you can shoot after you dodge, that can be awesome,” Goldberg said. “That’s how he scored most goals, dodging up top, and his shot was deceptive for goalies and hard to read as well.”
Britt said he began thinking about playing in the pros after last season, when he attended the MLL combine at Sacred Heart University. After practicing, meeting with coaches and scrimmaging with the other players, a draft was held for 30 players. Although Britt was not picked up then, the coaches told the non-drafted players that they should continue with lacrosse because the supplemental draft would be held in January. The Sunday before the draft, Britt received a phone call from a coach of the Pride telling him he was going to be drafted by them.
“Its definitely exciting,” Britt said. “At the combine I was definitely hoping to play well enough to get drafted. [Playing in the pros] is definitely something I wanted to do, so it was exciting to get the call.
Britt, who works in investment banking at HSBC in New York, said playing in MLL does not exclude having a day job because practices are at night and games are on the weekends. He said the hours could be tough but people at HSBC are supportive of his decision to try to play.
Britt said that the level of play at Yale and in the Ancient Eight prepared him for playing with the Pride, even though he and Hunt will be the only Eli alumni playing professionally.
“It’s going to be interesting,” Britt said. “It’s a disadvantage that people look at Yale graduates and do not expect them to want to play, and a lot of people from Yale get overlooked because it’s not a lacrosse hotbed like Princeton or Syracuse. It will definitely be a challenge to prove to the league and my team that I want to take this seriously.”
While it will be a transition for both Hunt and Britt, Yale head coach Andy Shay said he thinks both have a good chance at making it past the cuts in May.
“They definitely have a shot of making it,” Shay said. “It’s a matter of how much work you want to put into it. There are so many guys that are good, so it comes down to who works hardest.”
Although his job may keep him busy, Britt said he is going to recommit himself to being in the kind of shape he was in during his last season at Yale, so that he has a real shot of playing with the Pride.
“I think I am going to go up to Yale and practice with team some since there is no real way to practice in New York,” Britt said. “Being able to shoot and score and having a knack for the net is always looked for, but the downside is I’m not one of the flashiest players, so that could hurt me. We’ll see, hopefully I will play.”
Shay said having Hunt and Britt playing professionally will increase the prominence of the Yale program.
“A lot of people look to the pro league nowadays and keep their eyes on it,” Shay said. “It is good for Yale’s exposure to have two of the draftees.”
Mulholland said the drafting of Hunt and Britt is a step in the right direction for the Bulldogs.
“It just shows that we are a top D-I program,” Mulholland said. “We can put great players in the field. Brian and Ned were really special players and I always thought they would go on playing.”
The lacrosse team was also honored recently by the announcement that Jon Reese ’90, the former lacrosse All-American, will be inducted into the Long Island Metropolitan Lacrosse Hall of Fame Feb. 4. Reese, the 1987 rookie of the year and three-time first-team All-Ivy player, is Yale’s all-time leading point scorer with 200, and goal scorer with 162. He was one of seven midfielders named to the NCAA’s Silver Anniversary Team in 1995. Besides his skills on the lacrosse field, Reese was known for being captain of the 1989 Ivy champion football team and picking up 122 tackles at linebacker.