The number of American field lacrosse players finding success in the National Lacrosse League (NLL) has continued to grow in an important shift for the professional game in North America.
In the December 2008 issue of Inside Lacrosse Magazine, Jon Brand accurately stated that the committed U.S. lacrosse players taken in the last NLL Entry Draft “are just what the indoor game needs if it wants to reach the next level: marketable, talented and, most importantly, American.”
The 2008 NLL Entry Draft broke records: five Americans were taken in the first round and over 42% of those drafted on Sunday’s draft day were American. For comparison, in 2005, less than 20% of those selected on NLL Entry Draft day were American.
“This year’s crop of players is entering a crucial moment in history,” concluded Brand in his editorial.
“They’ve got the opportunity to be true game-changers; to turn the league on its head and show Canadian clubs, the fans and, most importantly, current NCAA players that it’s not just a few Americans who can thrive in the NLL.”
With the league’s most heavily stacked American roster one win away from the NLL Championship and three of six NLL All-Rookie spots awarded to Americans, this year’s crop of U.S. players proved that, indeed, the American field lacrosse player can succeed in today’s brand of the NLL.
The Eastern Division champion New York Titans played an extremely entertaining and competitive brand of ball this past season, featuring several former NCAA D1 All-Americans on their roster.
Syracuse stud Casey Powell continued to emerge as an NLL superstar averaging over 6.5 points per game in 2009. The Titans also enjoyed great seasons from NLL All-Stars Brendan Mundorf and Jarett Park.
Paul Rabil, Kevin Buchanan and Stephen Peyser were all named to the 2009 NLL All-Rookie Team, up from zero Americans named last year and just one, Bill McGlone, a year before that. Jordan Levine and Greg Downing received ’09 All-Rookie consideration, as well.
“The NLL is a challenge,” added Rabil. “There are times where your head may be spinning as you’re getting swarmed by other guys trying to hack your limbs off. But … If you want to pursue professional lacrosse outside of college, I think it’s a no brainer. For me it was.”
“My NLL experience, and first time playing box lacrosse, was tremendous.”
The Stealth, unfortunately, were not able to sign or move the fifth overall pick from the ’08 NLL Entry Draft, Kevin Huntley.
Matt Danowski also only cracked half of Colorado’s games, despite showing a lot of potential and outstanding stick skills. If given the floor-time, the former NCAA all-time leading scorer could obviously still be an NLL star.
“I enjoyed the game itself and still have a lot to learn,” added Matt, who recently completed his Master’s degree. He stated he’d likely play indoors again if given the right opportunity.
Danowski and Joe Walters, two of the more high-profile and accomplished field lacrosse players in this year’s rookie crop, each played ‘09 under one-year contracts and will have competition for their roster spots next season.
Stay tuned to the NLLInsider.com as we track the aforementioned and other young stars in Major League Lacrosse (MLL), plus bring you closer to the graduating NCAA stars looking to enter the 2009 NLL Entry Draft.
“There’s no way someone like Stephen Peyser drops as far as he did in the draft last year after seeing what he did this past winter,” added the NLL Insider’s Paul Tutka.
“The American Revolution mighta had some minor hiccups this year, but I think it’s still pushing its way forward.”An All-America at Simon Fraser and a decorated Jr. A player for Coquitlam, Kojima began covering lacrosse in 2003 and started working for Inside Lacrosse in 2007. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.laxfuj.com.
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