Longstick-to-it-tiveness: Lebanon’s Dulac to Play Lax at UMass

  • Lebanon native Jake Dulac is shown playing defense for the New Hampton School boys lacrosse team in an undated photograph. Dulac signed a national letter of intent to play the sport at UMass-Amherst on Wednesday.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 11/14/2018 11:53:28 PM

New Hampton, n.h. — It took years of practice and a mentality change for Jake Dulac to get used to playing defense.

The Lebanon native grew up as an attacker, developing in youth recreation leagues before heading to Cardigan Mountain School and, eventually, New Hampton School. New Hampton head coach Justin Simon said he first saw Dulac as an offensive weapon, but the Huskies already had plenty of those. Simon decided to use Dulac’s lanky athleticism at first as a long-stick midfielder, then later as a defensive anchor.

The training, and the position change, eventually paid off. The 6-foot-1, 205 pound Dulac signed a national letter of intent to continue his playing career with the University of Massachusetts-Amherst men’s lacrosse team during a commitment ceremony at New Hampton, one of 16 of the prep school’s student-athletes to sign NLIs on Wednesday afternoon.

Dulac will be playing a defensive role for the Minutemen.

“It was really hard, at first,” Dulac said after the ceremony. “I kind of liked defense; I like to hit someone. But in lacrosse, I went from playing short stick to long stick. The extra feet are a lot. It took me a while to get used to, probably a full two seasons to get used to — and actually be good — with a long pole. The coaches here, my club coaches, helped me adapt to it over time.”

Dulac, in a postgraduate year at New Hampton, will play his fourth season with the Huskies this spring. He helped the team win three straight Lakes Region championships, including back-to-back undefeated campaigns in 2016-17.

“He came in actually as an offensive player. He wasn’t going to break the lineup, to be quite honest, as an offensive guy,” Simon said. “He’s so athletic, with football and all the other sports that he’s played, we gave him a defenseman’s stick. He took it and ran with it.

“He had some awesome mentors that kind of told him, ‘Hey, stick with it. You’ve got what it takes,’ ” he added. “From then on, it was just hard work. He’s the most competitive kid I know. He just wants to win. He just wants to play. I knew he was going to be successful no matter what he did.”

Dulac was also the quarterback for New Hampton’s football team, finishing up his final varsity season this fall with a 5-3 overall record. Dulac is a two-time All-New England selection, leading the Huskies to the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council’s Ken O’Keefe Bowl, the New England championship game, against Brooks in 2017 and was part of New Hampton’s undefeated campaign in 2015.

“First off, he’s an outstanding athlete,” Huskies head football coach Edward Kiley said. “He’s rugged. He works hard. He’s put together. As a quarterback these last few years, we’ve put a lot on his shoulders. We run a complex offense with a lot of options, depending on the defense. He’s picked it up really well.”

Dulac finished the 2018 season 38-for-79 in the air for 727 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also carried the ball 104 times for 848 yards for 10 rushing touchdowns.

“He’s got very good leadership qualities, and he’s been successful: two bowls, won one championship,” Kiley said. “He’s played a huge part in our success.”

Choosing between lacrosse and football, Dulac said, was not easy.

“All along, I wanted to keep my options open. I love both sports, and I’ve been playing both football and lacrosse for a while now,” Dulac said. “Toward the end, I really fell in love with lacrosse.

“You learn so many life lessons playing football.”

Part of what makes Dulac special is his ability to lead, something Carter Castillo — one of Dulac’s New Hampton lacrosse teammates who also signed an NLI to play at UMass-Amherst on Wednesday — noticed early on.

“He’s vocal. He’s very vocal,” said Castillo, who first met Dulac playing club lacrosse in 2017. “I think being a quarterback has to do with it. ... It’s his positive attitude. When our team is down, he always brings us up. Without him, I don’t know where we’d be. Especially last year.”

Castillo, who plays attack, transferred from Bishop Feehan High in Attleboro, Mass., to New Hampton in January and verbally committed to the Minutemen in June. Castillo said the pair already has plans to be roommates in Amherst next year.

In the Minutemen, Dulac sees an opportunity to play at a high level. UMass head coach Greg Cannella’s 25 seasons at the helm is the second-longest active tenure at one school, and he is currently ranked 10th among active head coaches in wins. The Minutemen have won eight New England championships and made nine NCAA tournament appearances. But UMass has not cracked the NCAA quarterfinals since 2006.

“Coming down to it, I just wanted a school that I had a good connection with the coaches and the school itself,” Dulac said. “UMass was a perfect fit. I love coach Cannella and all the assistant coaches. It felt like the right place to be.”

Josh Weinreb can be reached at jweinreb@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.

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