Last spring, this young man’s fancy turned to . . . Chipotle’s.
That became the food of choice for Dylan Molloy, then a junior attack for Brown University and the nation’s leading scorer who broke his foot in the final minute of the Bears’ 17-8 first-round victory over Johns Hopkins in the NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse tournament. The serious injury — “It got hooked on the turf and I heard it pop,” he said, wincing at the memory — made it highly doubtful that Molloy would play again, but he was so determined to help his team that he basically took up residence in the pool and training room. He didn’t even leave for meals.
“I had food delivered every day. My teammates would bring me Chipotle’s,” recalled Molloy, the former St. Anthony’s star from Setauket. “So I was in the pool every morning at 7 a.m., keeping it moving. Rehabbing the foot was a ton of work. After the pool, I was in the training room, getting it worked on, getting it iced. It was a huge process but we had to do it.”
If his teammates were going to deliver Chipotle’s — plus an 11-10 quarterfinal victory over Navy without him to reach the Final Four — Molloy was going to deliver, too. “One day, one game,” is how he described the option doctors gave him, and even that was chancy because of the severity of his injury. He had suffered a Jones fracture of his right foot, splitting the last bone on the outside of the foot, and knew surgery awaited him.
He chose Brown’s semifinal against Maryland on May 28 for his return. “It was a risk but it was the Final Four and not many people get there.
I didn’t really know I’d be able to play until that morning,” Molloy said. “I slept with an ice machine on my foot every half-hour. I woke up and it wasn’t that swollen. I took the bus to the stadium and the plan was to get shots [of lidocaine] and get it wrapped up with a hardened piece of plastic to keep it in place. I didn’t really know if I would play until I ran out of the tunnel onto the field. It was the first time I’d put full weight on it in 2 ½ weeks. It was a weird experience to feel the foot numbing up like that. But I guess I got lucky with the adrenaline and everything else and I ended up playing.”
Though his mobility clearly was limited, his desire knew no bounds. Molloy scored two goals but Maryland spoiled the story line with a 15-14 overtime victory. He would not have been able to play had the Bears reached the championship game.
“I would’ve wanted to try, but my doctor said he’d never seen a foot balloon up like that after the game,” said Molloy, who trudged into the postgame interview room with his right leg supported by a scooter. “It stunk losing. But the experience of being in the Final Four and taking it all in -- the big crowd [in Philadelphia] and the great atmosphere — when I didn’t think I’d be out there was awesome.”
He had surgery three days after the Maryland game and two days after that used the same scooter to get around the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., where he won the Tewaaraton Award as the nation’s best college lacrosse player. Molloy, a ruggedly built 6-0, 220 pound attack, scored 116 points (62 goals, 54 assists), the fourth-highest total in NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse history. One of the nation’s most unstoppable finishers, Molloy says he’s fully recovered. He displayed the Tewaaraton to students, coaches and administrators during a visit to St. Anthony’s in January.
“Dylan’s best attribute is his toughness — mentally and physically. He won’t be denied. He’s a warrior,” said Brown’s first-year coach Mike Daly, who came from Tufts University. Daly knows Molloy well. He recruited him at Tufts, where he coached his older brother, Ryan.
“We felt he was a very good player but I don’t think anyone saw this coming,” Daly said. “When you’ve got your best player as your hardest worker and your toughest guy, it’s certainly a good situation for a coach. We took it easy on him in the fall, so there are no excuses for him to be anything but his absolute best.”
Molloy expects to thrive under Daly’s fast-paced style that brought Tufts three Division III NCAA titles and is every bit as rapid-fire as the one Lars Tiffany, now at Virginia, used last season when Brown led the nation in scoring (16.3 goals per game).
He said winning another Tewaaraton isn’t what drives him in his senior year. “I don’t even think about that,” Molloy said. His destination is Foxboro, Massachusetts, site of this year’s Final Four.
“That’s the plan. I definitely will try to be more creative to deal with the extra [defensive] attention I’ll be getting,” Molloy said. “Goal or assist, I don’t care. As long as we score. I’m healed. I’m great. I’m ready to go.”
NEWSDAY’S NATIONAL TOP 10
L.I. PLAYERS TO WATCH
Nick Aponte, Penn State (West Islip), A, Sr.
Got hot late last season and finished with 30 goals, 19 assists.
Colin Burke, Fairfield (Cold Spring Harbor), A, So.
Led CAA in scoring as a freshman with 46 goals, 17 assists.
Jack Concannon, Hofstra (Lindenhurst/St. Anthony’s), G, Jr.
Third-team preseason All-American had 8.56 goals-against average.
Jake Froccaro, Villanova (Port Washington), M, Sr.
Transfer from Princeton had hot start and finished with 40 goals, 15 assists.
Justin Guterding, Duke (Garden City), A, Jr.
Very accurate lefthanded shooter scored 43 goals with 28 assists.
Dylan Molloy, Brown (Setauket/St. Anthony’s), A, Sr.
Won Tewaaraton Award as junior and led NCAA in scoring with 62 goals, 54 assists.
Tim Muller, Maryland (Garden City/Chaminade), D, Sr.
One of nation’s top defenders. Had 42 groundballs, 24 forced turnovers.
Jeff Reh, Stony Brook, (Miller Place), M, Sr.
One of nation’s top defensive middies likely will play more offense.
Will Sands, Bucknell (Locust Valley, Friends), A, Jr.
Three-year starter can dodge (36 goals) and feed (28 assists).
Brian Sherlock, Loyola (NIssequogue/St. Anthony’s), M, Sr.
Superb, fiery two-way player had 24 goals, 13 assists for Final Four team.