JACKSONVILLE–Fleming Island High graduate and lacrosse all star Hayden La Vangie outran a Michigan defender up the left sideline, ran past the goal as a second defender rotated over to block …
JACKSONVILLE–Fleming Island High graduate and lacrosse all star Hayden La Vangie outran a Michigan defender up the left sideline, ran past the goal as a second defender rotated over to block his path, and hesitated as he turned to survey the field.
Then, he did, now as a Jacksonville University Dolphin, what he did so many times at Fleming Island High School between 2012 and 2015— he sacrificed his body for a shot.
Making his way back toward the goal, he backed the Wolverines’ Nick DiCaprio closer to the crease, spun, jumped and shot over DiCaprio’s shoulder. Falling to the ground courtesy of a DiCaprio cross check, La Vangie never saw the ball find its way to the net between the far post and goaltender Tommy Heidt’s left shoulder.
“I just knew we needed it, so I figured I would lay my body out there,” La Vangie said of his goal, which drew Jacksonville University within one goal of Michigan with 10:12 remaining in the Moe’s Classic at D.B. Milne Field on Saturday. “I just threw it [the ball] where I could.”
Moments like these were commonplace in La Vangie’s high school career, where he graduated as Fleming Island’s all-time leading scorer with 175 goals and 140 assists. Four years later, La Vangie has experienced ups and downs as a collegian, persevering through several injuries to earn a starting spot as a defensive midfielder for the Dolphins. A shoulder injury caused La Vangie to miss his entire sophomore year. He tore hamstring right before his junior year and spent the season at less than full speed. This past offseason, he had surgery on his right knee to clean up and cut away some loose tissue.
La Vangie still attends rehabilitation sessions for his knee each week, but is running well enough to “get going,” as he put it after the game. He had an assist and two ground balls to go with his goal on Saturday, and also caused a turnover with aggressive man-to-man defense. Because he missed a season due to injury, he has the opportunity to play an additional year of college lacrosse should he decide to go to graduate school after earning his bachelor’s degree this spring.
La Vangie has yet to make that decision, focusing on playing hard and staying healthy this year. But he has enjoyed his experience at JU.
“It’s been awesome,” he said. “Everybody here—coaches, teammates— has been better than I expected.”
The Dolphins fell to Michigan 11-10, dropping their season record to 0-4. Three of the four losses have been by one or two goals.