By Alex Leichenger
Despite leading the boys’ lacrosse team to its best record in his tenure, Head Coach Mark Haddad will not return next season. Players were informed of the decision by Head of Athletics Audrius Barzdukas in a meeting last Wednesday.
The Wolverines lost 14-11 to Agoura in the second round of
CIF playoffs May 6, finishing with an overall record of 12-5. After an 8-7 loss to Chaminade April 27, they finished third place in league with a 5-3 mark.
“[The athletic department] evaluates every single program at the end of the season, and we do take into consideration long-term prospects,” Barzdukas said. “We ask ourselves a simple question: is the program going in the right direction? It’s really a focus on process rather than wins and losses and outcome.”
Barzdukas did not elaborate on what aspect of the lacrosse program needed the most improvement, but acknowledged that he was not fully satisfied with the progress being made.
“I absolutely thought there were areas where I thought we could do better,” he said.
Barzdukas said there is no timetable for choosing Haddad’s successor. Candidates will be evaluated based on five criteria: leadership ability, “technical knowledge of the game,” the ability to run an organized program for all six grades, the ability to be a good “cultural fit” for the school, and exemplary character, Barzdukas said.
“The school is committed to giving those kids who play lacrosse the best leader we can find,” he said.
After a loss to eventual league champion Chaminade and a win over Thatcher, the Wolverines opened the playoffs with a victory over Oak Park at Ted Slavin Field. The team won 10 of 11 games in March and April before the Chaminade defeat.
Conor O’Toole ’10 led the team in goals (42) and assists (17) to finish with a team-high 59 points. Will Oliver ’11 finished second on the team with 32 points, and Evan Meister ’12 was third with 30.
Five players were sidelined by injury during the season-ending loss to Agoura, including Cory Wizenberg ’11, who finished fifth on the team in points (23) despite missing over half the season with a broken collarbone.
“For how low we were on numbers, I think we did well,” Wizenberg said.
Wizenberg figures to be a key cog for the squad next season as it adjusts to a new coaching staff.
“I think it’s a good step for the program,” Wizenberg said. “But [Haddad] has been my coach for the last three years, so it’ll be weird.”
“I think one of the things that makes Harvard-Westlake unique, is that whenever we decide to do anything, serving hamburgers in the cafeteria to putting on one-act plays to building a sports program, whenever we decide to do anything, we decide that we’re going to do it well,” Barzdukas said. “And I think that’s what we have to do with lacrosse. It’s blowing up across Southern California, its blowing up across the United States. If we want, our school can be very, very good at lacrosse, and so I think we should want that.”