October 4, 2013

30 in 30: Haefeles Show It's Easy Being Greene

by Jac Coyne | LaxMagazine.com | Coyne Archive | Twitter

Bumped up to attack last year with the arrival of his younger brother, Trevar Haefele (above) nearly doubled the point production from his first two seasons with Nazareth.
© Nazareth Sports Information

If you happened to drive through Greene, Maine – don't blink or you might miss it – you wouldn't confuse it with a lacrosse breeding ground. A bedroom community for Lewiston-Auburn, a pair of gritty mill towns straddling the Androscoggin River in the central part of the state, Greene boasts about five thousand residents and a regional high school that doesn't sponsor the sport.

Maine has had decent prep lacrosse for quite some time, but it has been localized to the state's Gold Coast, running from Cape Elizabeth past Portland and up to Brunswick. There are pockets of lacrosse elsewhere, but inland, the sport is mostly just finding its legs. Still, Greene has produced two of the key reasons why Nazareth surged to the NCAA tournament last year and why the Golden Flyers are serious candidates to make a run at the title game for the first time since 2004.

Senior Trevar and sophomore Troy Haefele (pronounced: HEFF-el) combined for 125 points last spring as part of Naz's attack unit that rivaled the most prolific in the country. How does a brother combo emerge from a lacrosse backwater to become All-American caliber players?

"We're a lacrosse family," said Dave Haefele, the father.

Dave Haefele was not only an All-American goalie for Cortland in 1978, but was formerly the head coach at Nichols (Mass.) College before heading back to his wife's home state and taking the equipment manager gig at Bates, located in Lewiston. In addition to his full-time job, Dave has shepherded his sons through their lacrosse career. It started by assisting the Lewiston-Auburn parks and rec department in forming a youth league (Haefele was the director) and continued during the boys' high school years.

With no lacrosse at Leavitt – the regional high school that serves Greene – Trevar and Troy enrolled at St. Dominic Academy in Auburn. From 2010-12, which coincided with Trevar's senior year and Troy's final three prep seasons, Dave coached St. Dom's, leading the Saints to a three-year record of 38-5 and a berth in the Class B playoffs each campaign (the Haefele-less St. Dom's team went 4-8 in '13).

The brothers turned some heads on the camp circuit, but at 5-foot-7 and 150 pounds, neither had the physical presence nor the program pedigree that a lot of coaches crave. And they weren't really big about pumping up their own candidacies.

Both of them have the same understated nature of their hometown.

"Troy and Trevar are like church mice," said Rob Randall, Nazareth's head coach. "To get a sentence out of either of them is like pulling teeth. I can remember being out to dinner with Trevar and his family during his recruiting visit. Troy was there, too. I don't know if Trevar said five words the whole night, honestly."

It's the same way on the field. Randall tells a story about the NCAA tournament game against Western New England when Troy scored a behind-the-back goal and barely lifted his stick in celebration. Trevar is equally demure after connecting for a score. Their limited outbursts are in stark contrast to the third member of the Flyers' attack line, Luke Wooters, who Randall describes as "a more celebratory-type player."

"I guess I like to lead by example," Trevar said. "Just put my head down and work hard. That's kind of what I'm going for."

"I always try to be steady on the field," said Troy. "We'll communicate, but when it comes to celebrating goals and being a rah-rah guy, I guess I'm not that."

"We're also a little more talkative away from coach," added Troy, with a small chuckle.

Both brothers refer to each other as one of their best friends and, except for an occasional sibling rivalry spat, they get along great. It's little surprise that Troy's arrival in Rochester coincided with the emergence of both as premier attackman. Trevar ran his first two years at Nazareth in the midfield, playing in every game and amassing a total of 30 points, but didn't quite find a home. Randall bumped Trevar up to attack last spring to reconnect with Troy and the results were magical.

In his first collegiate season, Troy Haefele (above) scored 48 goals and set up 26 others, earning team co-offensive MVP honors and leading the Flyers to the NCAA tournament second round.
© Nazareth Sports Information

Trevar scored 25 goals and dished out 26 assists while Troy netted 48 goals along with 26 dimes to earn team co-offensive MVP honors with fellow rookie Wooters.

The brothers have many similarities in their game, but they have some recognizable differences. For starters, Trevar is a righty and his brother is a natural lefty. Troy would be classified as an off-ball shooter while his sibling wears the label of a dodger.

"Trevar plays more with the stick at his waist while Troy plays more with his stick upright, if that make sense," said Randall, who also used the term 'slippery' to describe the tandem. "They are both tough as nails and they are both extremely tough kids for their size. They get beat on, but they just keep coming at you."

Growing up in a burgeoning area for the sport where the Haefeles were by far the best players in their age group gives them a sixth sense when they are on the field together.

"I know as soon as I get the ball in my stick and look up, he's probably going to be open and he's going to be able to bury the ball and handle whatever comes at him," said Trevar. "Great hands, great shooter, smart player."

"We know how each other play and we know where each other is going to be most of the time," added Troy. "We know each other's thought process out there."

As their father and sometime coach, Dave Haefele knows the more subtle differences between the two. Trevar is the more sensitive of the two and has a calmer demeanor. Troy, who has made up the two-year gap between the brothers by playing up during his youth career, is more passionate and has a thicker skin. The father is obviously proud of his sons' accomplishments, but he seems happier that they gravitated to the sport on their own. Despite providing as many opportunities as he could, he never wanted to make the sport a mandate.

"They just found lacrosse," Dave said. "I didn't push them into anything. But as you know, lacrosse is kind of special."

This season will be a special one for the Haefele brothers. Not only does it hold a monumental amount of promise, but, other than perhaps some post-collegiate club ball, it's the last time Trevar and Troy will be on the field together. Dave and his wife Maria will be making the nine-hour trip from Greene to Rochester for almost every home game, just like last year.

"I think it's in the back of their minds," said Dave Haefele of his sons' final campaign on the same team. "I watched them work all offseason. They worked together at a camp for nine weeks and they bonded even more, if that's possible."

Nazareth is going to be good this year. The talent is most definitely there, led by its trio of 5-foot-7 attackmen – "We call it the attorney line of Haefele, Haefele & Wooters," laughed Randall.

The Flyers, with their three national titles, will be wearing purple and gold once again this spring, but if they navigate their way to championship number four, they'll do it will a little splash of Greene.

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