Rochester Knighthawks defenseman Paul Dawson has seen some action in nearly every aspect of the game of lacrosse, from goaltending to driving to the other end of the turf and taking his shot on the goal. The eight-year pro, who was originally drafted into the National Lacrosse League as a goalie, made the transition to defender after his first season in the league. Paul and his brother Dan made their way to Rochester in 2012, where they won their first-ever Champion’s Cup. Paul even managed to get his name on the score sheet more than once during the Knighthawks’ 2014 season, showing that he can take part on both ends of the field.
“Everybody knows Paul was drafted as a goalie, but for him to make the transition to a defensive player and to become one of our stronger ones, to be able to do that, it’s really just a part of his growth to go out there and learn the game from a different angle,” said Assistant Captain and fellow defenseman Mike Kirk.
Dawson racked up five points during the regular season (2+3) and added two more points during the playoffs (1+1), one of which was a goal he scored in Game 2 of the National Lacrosse League Champion’s Cup series. Dawson made a bold move, pushing to the net to tack on Rochester’s ninth goal against the Calgary Roughnecks.
“It wasn’t a game-winning goal, but it was nice to get on the board,” Dawson said. “It’s always nice to score as a defenseman and being in the championship game was even cooler.”
“Paul is a great guy in our locker room and is a presence on the floor,” said Knighthawks Head Coach Mike Hasen. “He plays sound ‘D’ for us and when he sees the opportunity he puts the ball in the net for us. They come few and far between, but we’ll take them when they come. He’s well aware of what his job is and does it to perfection.”
Rochester came out on top during Game 2, outscoring the Roughnecks 16-10, forcing the 10-minute mini-game to decide the winner of the Champion’s Cup. With less than two minutes left in the mini-game, the Knighthawks trailed the Roughnecks 2-0, but the team never let that deficit get to them. A strong offensive rally resulted in the Knighthawks leading by one goal with less than a minute left. The defense then went to work to hold off the Roughnecks and lock in Rochester’s third championship win.
“It was awesome. Any time you’re a part of a history-making team it’s super special,” said Dawson. “Any time you win a championship it’s pretty cool. Winning back-to-back for me is amazing, but winning (three times in a row) makes it that much more magnified.”
“I think everybody was kind of relaxed,” said Kirk. “It was hard defense and we kind of looked like we were scrambled, but that’s what we’ve done all year. We were confident with those five guys out there and everybody does their part to take the lane out and force those shots from different angles so ‘Vno’ could make those saves for us.”
The Knighthawks have always prided themselves on their strong defensive unit, which was evident during the final seconds of the championship game. Each man did his job which resulted in another Cup being lifted at The Blue Cross Arena for the Knighthawks.
“We were just hoping for the best, hoping to get them (away from our end),” said Hasen. “They were doing a great job blocking shots. The defense has been doing well all year for us, and ‘Vno’ made one big save.”
The three-peat was a well-deserved reward for which each player fought hard, and wa a special feeling for each person involved.
“For me I was trying to just get in the shooting lane and trying to get as big as possible,” Dawson said. “I was just trying to block shots, but ‘Vno’ did most of the blocking. It was a nail-biting game, but it was pretty cool to be a part of. It was pretty wild winning it with two minutes left, but our offense made the come-back. It was just really cool to be a part of it and make history.”
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