With an enrollment of 271 students, Derryfield was the smallest NHIAA school that offered boys’ lacrosse this year. By winning the D-II championship in just their second season in the division, the Cougars proved that the size of a school isn’t everything.
Derryfield has appeared in four straight state title games. The Cougars won the Division III title in 2013, lost in the 2014 D-III finals to Hollis/Brookline and fell to Goffstown in last year’s D-II championship game. Derryfield defeated the Cavaliers, 10-3, to win this year’s Division II crown.
“We knew we had a core group when we made the jump (to Division II) that would allow us to compete right away,” 14th-year Derryfield coach Chris Hettler said. “(The senior class is) 75-4 in D-II and D-III play. That group set the bar. Now the kids underneath know what the expectation is and how to get to that level.
“A culture has been established and the kids underneath will carry that on.”
It took Hettler some time to build the Cougars into a consistent title contender.
From 2004-06, Derryfield played only at the club level due to a lack of numbers. Since returning as a varsity program in 2007, the Cougars have gone 140-38, Hettler said. In addition to three state titles (2010, 2013, 2016), the Cougars have won either the Division II or Division III regular-season crown six of the last seven years, Hettler said.
Derryfield went 18-1 overall this season.
“I’m just floored at how far we’ve come,” Hettler said. “Now kids see Derryfield as not just a place to get a top-notch education but somewhere they can come to be really successful at lacrosse.”
Hettler’s main focus now is to continue to build upon the program’s accomplishments and make sure Derryfield is a constant title contender. If its participation numbers grow, Derryfield might, someday, petition up to play in Division I, Hettler said.
The Cougars lost, 5-4, at Division I Concord in the regular season and defeated Division I Exeter, Manchester Central and Hanover in preseason scrimmages this year.
“It’s a numbers battle for us,” Hettler said. “The difference between us right now and the D-I schools is not the talent on the field at any one time. It’s what happens when we sustain a couple big injuries.”
The Cougars might not be looking to join Division I next year but it’s not a move Hettler would hesitate to make if he felt he had the depth.
“I don’t think school size matters,” Hettler said.
Reprinted from the Union Leader
by Alex Hall