In these complex times of postponed sports, fans have been taking to social media with their favourite games and memories. The lacrosse world is no different. A quick scroll through any fan’s timeline will show pictures from player’s youth, coaching, throwback games and, yes, father/daughter TikTok dance battles. It is with all this in mind we ask your indulgence as we personally look back on some of our favourite games we’ve had the pleasure to be a part of as either reporter, writer, fan, commentator or broadcaster. It is the hope this unique look back will provide a new perspective while giving readers some form of comfort in these different times.
It is hard to pick a lacrosse memory that I witnessed as a “favourite.” There are so many times when an individual had a phenomenal game or a team defied the odds.
Max Adler’s bloody knee battle for the 2018 MLL Championship stands out. Bloody and limping off the field, he was taped up time after time and kept returning to help Denver win their championship.
Canadian goalie Brandon Miller’s near flawless Heritage Cup win and subsequent MVP accolades with his entire family cheering him on, including the cutest grandfather I have ever seen helping him hold the trophy, was up there as a top moment. Miller had gone through some challenging times before that series with the death of his brother and the NLL bouncing him around.
Brodie Merrill’s gravity-defying and against all odds goal scored from one end of the field to the other when he played for the Boston Cannons in 2016 was on replay as people from all over stood stupefied at how it happened. I think Merrill does great things and I’m never usually shocked by his play, but he shocked me that day.
Also not favourite but definitely memorable was when Chris Sanderson, in a Philadelphia Wings’ uniform, scored on himself twice in one game, seemingly back-to-back. I don’t know who was more stunned – Chris or the fans.
There is one moment, or rather one weekend, that stands out more than any other lacrosse memory in my mind that wasn’t attached to a family member.
It was a summer Powerball tournament in 2012 that was affectionately named the Beat It tournament by everyone who stood on those sidelines that weekend.
The Powerball Tournament was my favourite moment of lacrosse for this reason – a bunch of professional athletes and two equipment managers came together in a hodgepodge mix of incredible selflessness and talent to raise money for Chris Sanderson’s memorial fund and Kyle Miller’s cancer fight.
What was officially called Team Reebok Blacks Out Cancer with sponsorship from Route1 featured a powerful blend of players from lacrosse greats like Dan Dawson to recent college graduates like Will Harrington. They put aside summer and winter rivalries and volunteered their time to raise money.
Brodie Merrill had an incredible team to coach and was supported on the sidelines by all-time equipment great Mike Fox aided by John Craig. I was fortunate enough to be an ankle wrapper and water girl; my family also helped out.
Rich D’Andrea from Georgetown was spectacular in goal. He held his own, stopping shot after shot. He acted like he played field lacrosse professionally on a daily basis.
Thomas Hajek, Patrick Merrill and Shawn Nadelen formed a formidable wall to help D’Andrea. Pushing out offensive players, solid checks, and smooth teamwork made D’Andrea’s job easier.
Dawson and Zach Greer pounded the goal cage. Billy Dee Smith and Mark Steenhuis were fired up in midfield and took out every player who challenged them. I distinctly remember Smith reminding people who he was. I also remember that he came out hobbling, had his ankle taped and went right back in. He knew how important the victory was.
These men played hard for a volunteer tournament. They played as if their own lives depended on it, not just the lives of their colleagues, friends, idols or (in some cases) complete strangers. They played beautifully to win the championship and support Chris’ memorial fund and Kyle’s treatments.
After the game, Steenhuis took off his gold medal and placed it around my daughter’s neck, thanking her for her water bottle efforts. It is framed in our basement.
Sadly, less than a year later Kyle Miller passed away. The memories are still there. I have never been as proud of a group of individuals selflessly and powerfully coming together in lacrosse to help out others in need. It was an example of people reaching out in a time of need. The world needs more of this.