James Sullivan, Westlake
Senior defender James Sullivan and junior goalie Matt Kilkeary return for the Warriors.

Close defender III, a rising senior at Marmonte League champion Westlake, announced his decision Tuesday to play lacrosse at Dartmouth College in the Division I Ivy League.

The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Sullivan was named second-team All-Marmonte for the Warriors last spring, anchoring a defense that allowed only 6.4 goals per game in going 16-2 and reaching the L.A. division semifinals. Wednesday, he described the whirlwind summer in which he went from lightly recruited to a D-I commitment.

“At the beginning of the summer, I was totally off Dartmouth’s radar,” Sullivan said, “but it all started coming together when I went to their prospect day.”

A member of Goon Lacrosse and the L.A. Heat locally, Sullivan also played this summer for the Long Island Sting under coach Ken Miller. Last summer, Westlake middie Jesse Cuccia played for the Sting and landed multiple D-I offers, eventually signing with North Carolina.

In June, Sullivan played in the Long Island LaxFest tournament with the L.A. Heat, and he didn’t come home for nearly two months. “I pretty much stayed out there all summer,” he said. In addition to a few tournaments with the Long Island Sting, Sullivan attended a prospect day at Dartmouth. That led to a return visit.

“When I came back a few weeks later,” he said, “I went on the tour with the admissions office, then they took me back to the athletic department, and I met with Coach [Brendan] Callahan. I called my Mom from there and just said, ‘This feels like home to me.’ ”

A top-level student with a 4-plus GPA, Sullivan said he had been in contact with a number of Division III programs but only Lafayette and Holy Cross among D-Is had expressed interest. The opportunity to attend an Ivy League school and play lacrosse was too good to pass up.

And according to his coaches, he is well suited for the Ivy environment.

“Sully is one of the hardest working players, both in the classroom and on the field,” said Mario Waibel of Goon Lacrosse and a former Westlake coach. “Dartmouth is a great fit, and we couldn’t be more proud of him. We can’t wait to see what he does at the next level.”

Westlake coach Geoff Sebold said, “James is an outstanding athlete, combining speed, strength and agility to go with a strong work ethic that carries over into the classroom. He is extremely coachable, always asking good questions to better understand the game and his position, and he is a leader on and off the field. James will be an excellent addition to the Dartmouth program.”

In addition to Waibel and Sebold, Sullivan named Scott Hochstadt of the Heat and Mike McGovern of Goon as key figures in both his development and recruitment.

Sullivan will follow teammate Conor O’Brien to the Ivy League, as O’Brien will enroll at Cornell this fall to play lacrosse. Sullivan also is the second area player in the Class of 2016 heading to the Ivy — Harvard Westlake middie and faceoff specialist Philip Thompson is committed to Princeton.

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