Veteran midfielder and perennial All-Star Stephen Berger has announced that he is retiring from competitive play. Berger spent 11 seasons in MLL, most recently as a member of the Boston Cannons.
“First of all I have to thank all my coaches and teammates for all they have done for me, allowing me to become the player that I am,” said Berger. “I would also like to thank the MLL for allowing us players to fulfill our dream of competing at the highest level against the best players in the world. I hope I have been able to prove that just because you’re selected last, it doesn’t mean that you can’t strive to perform and become the player you want to be, and hopefully I have opened the gates for more D II and D III guys to continue to play and reach their goals.”
Berger was selected out of D III school Washington College, where he set the record for most points in a season (94 a record that still stands today), by Long Island in the 5th round (No. 30 overall) of the 2004 MLL Collegiate Draft.
He began playing for the Lizards in 2005 and proceeded to make an immediate impact, going from “Mr. Irrelevant” the last selection in the draft, to helping his team reach the 2005 Championship Game appearing in 14 games (including playoffs) and recording 21 goals and five assists his first season.
“Stephen represents a lot of what is right with the MLL,” said his former coach at the Lizards, Joe Spallina. “He overcame several obstacles and blazed a trail for the many lower collegiate division players who came in after him. He really cares about the game and will leave a huge void with his retirement.”
Berger stayed with the Lizards for seven seasons helping them reach the playoffs again in 2009 and 2010. In 2011, Berger was traded to the Charlotte Hounds where he spent one season before returning to the Lizards. In 2013 New York traded Berger to the Cannons where he spent the last season and a half appearing in 18 games recording 37 goals and 17 assists.
“I have had the pleasure of knowing Stephen for quite some time and have always been impressed with the way he approaches the game,” said Cannons Head Coach John Tucker. “His energy and enthusiasm are contagious. As the last pick in the draft I feel it’s safe to say that he played with reckless abandon in his attempt to make a name for himself. After multiple All-Star selections and a brilliant 10-year career, it’s safe to say that he beat the odds. He had a wonderful season for the Cannons – perhaps his best year in the MLL – and we are extremely grateful for all of his hard work these past two years.”
Overall Berger appeared in 123 games recording 218 goals (6 2pt goals) and 77 assists. He was also named to six consecutive All-Star teams from 2007 to 2012.
Off the field, the perennial All-Star is currently the Men’s Game Director at U.S. Lacrosse, serving as the leading advocate for the men’s games, providing the lacrosse community with access to and information about US Lacrosse’s leadership and efforts in the sport’s development. He was also recently named Head Coach of the Varsity team at his high school alma mater Mount Saint Joseph, in Baltimore, Md. and will continue to grow the sport while mentoring future lacrosse talent.