Sean Mayle quietly amassed the best individual boys’ lacrosse performance in the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League this season — and perhaps one of the best in the nation.
Mayle didn’t lead his Sacred Heart Prep team in goals. Nor did he lead in total points. Those two marks are held by fellow senior Frankie Hatler. But Mayle was the driving force in leading the Gators to an 11-1 league record and their first ever SCVAL title.
A four-time All-SCVAL midfielder, Mayle added an All-American honor to his trophy case this season. He paced Sacred Heart Prep with 94 groundballs and 83 clears. He ranked second on the squad with 66 goals and 24 assists for 90 points. He was nearly flawless in face-offs, winning 102 of 118 draws. And he earned a partial athletic scholarship to play for the lacrosse powerhouse at the University of Denver in the fall.
Because he was the most dominant force on the lacrosse field in San Mateo County this season, Mayle has been named the San Mateo Daily Journal Lacrosse Player of the Year.
“He’s on a different level,” Sacred Heart Prep head coach Chris Rotelli said. “There are not many people that can keep up with him.”
Mayle staked his claim to Sacred Heart Prep history when the Gators downed Menlo-Ahterton 12-7 in the SCVAL championship game May 17 at Woodside High School. It was a rematch of the 2013 championship game in which M-A prevailed.
But the Sacred Heart Prep boys finally grew into their potential in 2014. With six starting seniors, the Gators downed M-A twice in the regular season. And while they were keen to forego any sense of arrogance in setting foot on the championship turf, their confidence was on display with the precision they exhibited as a core group of players having grown up together on the lacrosse field.
“We didn’t want to go into the game thinking anything more than it was going to be a tough game and we had to play our best in order to win,” Mayle said.
Mayle scored two goals in the game, including a stunning coast-to-coast drive on a free run at the end of the first half. After a halftime tie at 6-6, Mayle sparked a five-goal run with his second goal.
The victory served as a culmination of quite a local lacrosse career. Mayle began playing the sport in grade school for the Firehawks, a Redwood City-based club team started by Sacred Heart Prep’s lacrosse director Doug Appleton. Mayle, along with four of his SHP teammates — Hatler, Alex Castro, Noah Kawasaki and Brian White — were on one of the first teams after the club was founded.
Now the group has come full circle. In addition to his All-American performance for Sacred Heart Prep, Mayle coached the Firehawks’ 11-and-under squad five days a week with his father Nick. The two took the team to the Northern California Junior Lacrosse Association championship game, only to lose in double overtime.
“Sean would literally go straight from the varsity field and walk over and coach 10-year-old kids for an hour-and-a-half,” Appleton said.
Two other Firehawks teams, the 13-and-unders and the 15-and-unders, each won the NCJLA championships in their respective divisions, with the 15-and-under squad being coached by Hatler.
The hard work made Sacred Heart Prep’s historic title win all the more sweet.
“It was an unreal experience,” Mayle said. “This was the first championship that Sacred Heart lacrosse has had. So, for all the guys it was really awesome to see our season come to an end in such a positive way.”
Yet, the Gators received no championship parade down El Camino Real. They were not privy to a formal presentation on campus. The most pomp and circumstance surrounding the championship was a congratulatory recognition from athletic director Bret Simon during Sacred Heart Prep’s weekly Monday student assembly at Harmon Assembly Hall.
Mayle will have a legitimate opportunity to make history at the collegiate level though. University of Denver has developed into a national powerhouse in recent years. Finishing ranked No. 5 in the nation this season, the Pioneers have yet to win a national championship. However, they are on the rise due to the guidance of head coach Bill Tierney, who won six national championships at Princeton.
According to Appleton, Tierney’s interest in recruiting Mayle was virtually instantaneous upon the legendary coach’s initial scouting trip.
“I think he probably watched him for about 10 seconds and he knew he had a special kid,” Appleton said.
Mayle fielded interest from several Division I programs, including the University of Maryland, Loyola University Maryland and Georgetown University. With plenty of family in the Denver area though, Mayle said he knew he wanted to attend Denver upon a second recruiting trip to campus.
“When I revisited Denver again, that’s when I knew that’s where I wanted to go,” Mayle said. “That’s the place I wanted to be. Right when I got home from that visit to Denver, I called the coach and told him I wanted to commit and I’d love to go to the University of Denver.”
Leaving behind a legacy of not only winning Sacred Heart Prep’s first SCVAL title, but helping to put the program on the map, Mayle expressed nothing but the upmost respect for a core group of players who have played together half their lives.
“I think this year our team was closer than ever and it showed by how far we were able to get,” Mayle said. “Winning the championship, this team, this year, all the guys are super close.”
And according to their head coach, the group helped change the lacrosse culture at the small Atherton private school.
“This senior class has helped establish the team as a national power,” Rotelli said. “Now there are kids going to the school who want to play lacrosse. And that wouldn’t have happened if not for this group of seniors.”