Quince Orchard junior attackman Jake Christensen started playing lacrosse his freshman year. By last fall, he was committed to Division I Colgate — ranked in the national polls at times this season — after just two seasons of lacrosse with the Cougars. As a junior, the 5-foot-8, 160-pounder finished third in Montgomery County with 53 goals and led the Cougars to an 11-4 record and a berth in the 4A/3A West region semifinal. Recruiting Insider spoke with Christensen, whose season ended with a loss to state semifinalist Wootton this week, about his quick growth in the game, his commitment to Colgate, and what’s next for the Cougars in 2015.
Recruiting Insider: Why Colgate?
Jake Christensen: One of the deciding factors was the education it provides. They provide high-caliber academics, plus of course lacrosse. This season they were actually in the top 20 for a little bit and had a pretty good season. So definitely the main deciding factor was academics, lacrosse the second. I also loved the coaching staff and love the way they run the program there. I had an offer from UMBC, another offer from the University of Tampa and also Amherst College and a few other DIII schools.
RI: How has Quince Orchard lacrosse evolved in your three seasons as a Cougar?
JC: We’ve come really far. After my freshman year, our assistant coach stepped up — David Heiney Gonzalez — and he’s done a great job building the program. This year he brought in two phenomenal coaches from Syracuse. One was a first-team All-American defender who’s really shaped our defense (Brian Megill of MLL’s Chesapeake Bayhawks). He’s really improved not just the defense’s lacrosse IQ, but also the whole team’s IQ. We started in October doing workouts four days a week and carried that into the season. Teamwise, our team was still really young this year. We had two seniors, so we’re bringing back basically our whole starting lineup for next year, so that’s exciting. We’re improving and getting better each year.
I’ve definitely seen Montgomery County improving. Wootton, Churchill, Walter Johnson, Sherwood — I think it improves every year and everyone gets better every year, especially since it’s such a growing sport in the area. The game’s really growing and growing in skill level.
RI: You were new to lacrosse as a freshman: how did you get into the game?
JC: I only started in ninth grade, so I played in a summer league before ninth grade and loved it ever since. I was a basketball player in middle school and a football player in middle school, but I always wanted to have that one sport. I was too small for basketball, too small for football, but I had a big heart. Once I found lacrosse, I realized size didn’t matter as much there. My first game I played midfield and within the first five seconds of the game I ran down the field and scored. I thought, ‘Okay, this might be a sport I can pursue.’ So I started to think maybe I could do this in college, reach that ultimate goal. Luckily, after a lot of hard work, hitting the wall and working out, I reached that goal this fall.
RI: What were the biggest challenges you faced playing players who’d played for years?
JC: Definitely the hardest thing was learning the game. Lacrosse IQ was huge, that was one thing where I was extremely behind. Stick stuff was tough, but I hit the wall a lot which improved my stick skills a lot. But lacrosse IQ just comes with experience, so I had to watch a lot of lacrosse and watch friends play. Good coaching also helped a lot, and being pulled up to varsity as a freshman was definitely a huge opportunity to learn. I was a small kid — maybe 5-2, 115 pounds as a freshman starting on varsity. So I also had to get bigger to reach the goal of playing in college. So that year, I had to get bigger and increase my lacrosse IQ, that was definitely the hardest part.
RI: You’re known as an unselfish player, and coaches say you could score a lot more goals if you didn’t look to set up teammates so often. Is that something you do consciously?
JC: I see myself as a player that’s not only a decent player, but that can make people around him better. What makes a good player is someone who makes people around him better, and that’s what I’ve wanted to do for my team. That’s why I share the ball alot, try to get my assist numbers up. That’s as important as scoring goals to me: trying to help other players contribute to the team.