“(Noah) Syndergaard?” Mellor replied. “I was thinking Jacob deGrom,” countered the bystander.
“We Philly guys don’t like the Mets either way,” smiled the Torreys coach, as he walked across the baseball outfield at the private school, getting ready for the late-start season opener.
Mellor, who was weaned on Philly cheesesteak and Phillies baseball, told how growing up in Kobe Bryant territory was different than Junior Seau land: “After the game, we didn’t go surfing,” he smiled. “Here you get picked up and go surfing.
Another difference, he said, was that back in the day, club sports didn’t proliferate the way they do now, all across the land. “You played only in the season,” he recalled. “These guys (his Torrey players) play club. Then (in the school season) they play their first game together (as LJCDS).”
Senior midfielder David Brewster scored the Torreys’ first goal of the season in the first quarter against La Jolla. He’s counted on to provide major leadership on attack. “We’ve got a lot of seniors this year,” said the personable 18-year-old, “a lot of guys who have been playing together since middle school. We have many returning starters.”
As for what he brings to Mellor’s team, Brewster made a fair assessment: “I’m not going to have the most goals, but any dodges I have (driving with the ball, then dishing) help the offense.”
A four-year starter, the senior, whose father and mother are Dennis and Helen, said, “My goals dropped last year in half (as a junior, from his sophomore year), but that was because I didn’t have to score as much.” His older brother, Jonathan, 23, was an LJCDS grad in the Class of 2012, and USC in 2016.
Favorites on the culinary spread for the “middie” include Asian and Mexican food. “I’d probably have to go with a shrimp dumpling ramen,” Brewster said. For dessert, red velvet cake.
“‘DBrew’ (a nickname) is our vocal leader and he’s one of many catalysts to our offense,” said Mellor. “He’s the outgoing guy that the other guys rally around, and his upbeat personality.”
Country Day will also be helped on attack and at midfield by the leadership of two other senior captains, Tate Kennedy and Alex Mow. “Tate, he’s our distributor behind the cage,” said Mellor, of the 18-year-old Kennedy. “He’s a shifty little guy. He’s a calming presence in the locker room, and quick on the attack. He has some good shake-and-bake (moves).”Regarding Mow, also 18, Mellor says, “He’s our faceoff guy. We start and go with him in the faceoff ‘X’” (as it is called in lacrosse). (Alex) is a leader by example. He’s a quiet guy who leads that way.”
“We have a good mix of seniors and youth on this team,” said the new head coach, in his fifth year on the staff at LJCDS, an outgoing, friendly presence himself to visitors and newcomers. “It’s a good blend. We’ll lean on these seniors. We’ll go as far as they take us.”
Besides the leaders on attack and at midfield, the Torreys will also look to leadership on defense, with Will Pollack, Dean Ladrido, and Alex Aganhia. “Pollack is the anchor to our defense,” said Mellor of the 18-year-old senior. “We’re going to lean on him for our defensive skills.
“He’s a blue collar guy, a leader by example.”
About Ladrido, 17, a junior, Mellor said, “He’s a skillful player aspiring to play college lacrosse, so we lean on him. He’s a long-stick middie (a long stick measures over six feet in length, a short stick 38 to 40 inches). He’s a vocal leader who’s outgoing and fun-loving. He loves the joy of sports.”
Aganhia, an 18-year-old senior, is “another goofy, fun-loving kid who lightens things for his teammates, and the team responds to that kind of leadership.”
As far as what he is trying to accomplish with his players through his coaching, Mellor commented, “Our mission is to make good boys better. We’re fortunate to have good families in this program. We have good kids. We want to make strong, independent young men.”