SAMMAMISH, Wash. – Washington Stealth defender and former Bellevue High School boys assistant coach Chris O’Dougherty has been hired as head coach of the lacrosse program at Eastlake High School in Sammamish, Wash.O’Dougherty, who led the defense at Bellevue the past three seasons under head coach John Baumann, brings a winning pedigree and a football mentality to lacrosse at Eastlake – and the Sammamish Plateau.
“Eastlake High School is on the brink of something really good,” said O’Dougherty who helped guide the Wolverines to Washington state boys lacrosse titles in 2012 and 2010. And before coming to Washington state, he was a part of the boys varsity staff at Kinnelon High School in New Jersey that won the Garden State title in 2009.
“It’s defense that wins championships,” said O’Dougherty of the Wolves program loaded with juniors and sophomores that he inherits from outgoing coach Chris Panos. “We have all the pieces in place. The numbers are here to win,” he said. “Now we need to put it together.”
Although Eastlake has made the post season in each of the last two years and has showed steady improvement in its first six years of existence, most recently going 6-10-0 in 2012, 11-7-1 in 2011 and 7-8-0 in 2010, the school hasn’t yet had the success that O’Dougherty’s Stealth teammate Lewis Ratcliff found when he guided neighboring Eastside Catholic to the 2012 Washington state title game in his first year at the helm of the Crusader program.
It’s the intensity from success at the professional and collegiate ranks, along with his All-Conference prep gridiron experience at outside linebacker and split end, that O’Dougherty expects will help his kids compete in the upper tier of Division I play. And compete with their plateau rivals.
“We’ll bring an intensity to our play and keep it fresh – keep it exciting every day of practice for our guys,” said O’Dougherty, the 2012 US Lacrosse Washington State Chapter Assistant Coach of the Year, who is in the process of selecting from six to eight assistants to help guide his varsity, junior varsity and sub varsity squads.
“I have a football mentality in this game,” he said. “With great athletes and mental toughness you can win. For someone young like myself that’s still embedded in the professional game that’s the key to making this successful. It’s that mental toughness that’s the next stage of being a true athlete. A winner.”
On the field, the 26-year-old O’Dougherty has proven himself as a hard-nosed defender and student of the game at the NCAA and professional ranks.
While starting in all but one game and grabbing 102 ground balls during a collegiate career at Rutgers, O’Dougherty was a three-time captain, All-ECAC selection and named Scarlet Knights MPV as a senior.
He was selected 31st overall in the 2009 Major League Lacrosse entry draft where he played three seasons with the Denver Outlaws. In the National Lacrosse League, he was selected in the sixth round (58th overall) in 2009 where he became a staple with a Stealth team that won the league title in 2010 and finished as runner up in 2011. In 2012, he saw action in 10 regular season games for the Stealth, grabbing 22 loose balls and creating five forced turnovers.
At Seton Hall Prep in New Jersey, O’Dougherty excelled in both lacrosse and football, earning All-American and All-State honors in lacrosse and was an All-Conference selection as an outside linebacker and split end on the football field.
O’Dougherty is the second Washington Stealth player to move into a head prep job on the Sammamish Plateau in the past two years following Ratcliff at Eastside Catholic, and is the second new coach on the plateau this year.
At Skyline High School, former Overlake School boys coach Henry Valentine was named head coach of the Spartans boys varsity for the 2013 season.
Over 4,000 student-athletes representing some 200 high schools in eastern and western Washington state play prep lacrosse.
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~ Mike McQuaid, Sports Information Director, US Lacrosse – Washington State Chapter