Four 'Truly Great' Men's Players Join Hall of Fame

John Strohsacker

(L-R) Kevin Cassese, Ryan Powell, Dave Morrow and A.J. Haugen

Four lacrosse greats who excelled as players at the highest levels of the game were formally inducted as the newest male members of the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame Saturday evening at The Grand Lodge in Hunt Valley. 

The inductees – Kevin Cassese, A.J. Haugen, Dave Morrow and Ryan Powell – were officially welcomed as “truly great players” during the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, sponsored by RPS Bollinger Sports & Leisure and the Markel Insurance Company.

Cassese was a three-time collegiate All-American at Duke and the recipient of the Donald MacLaughlin Award as the national midfielder of the year in 2002. He earned All-ACC honors three times and was named the ACC’s Player of the Year in 2001 after leading Duke to the first of two straight league championships. 

In addition to a seven-year professional career in Major League Lacrosse, which included two all-star seasons, Cassese was a member of the 2002, 2006 and 2010 U.S. Men’s National Teams, winning the gold medal twice and also serving as captain for the 2010 squad. 

“When you get the opportunity to be around the best of the best that our sport has to offer, and I’m not just talking about players, but also support staff and coaching staff and administrators, it makes you a better person,” said Cassese, now in his 12th year as men’s head coach at Lehigh University.

Mike Pressler, who coached Cassese at Duke and was the head coach of the 2010 U.S. team, served as his presenter.

“Kevin was so athletic and so gifted, he rose to the occasion in the biggest of moments,” Pressler said. “You wanted to have the ball in his stick to decide the end of the game. He was arguably the greatest two-way midfielder that I’ve ever had the privilege to coach. He was the ultimate teammate and ultimate team guy, and his leadership ability was remarkable. Second to none among any player I’ve ever coached.” 

Haugen was a three-time first team All-American midfielder at Johns Hopkins and selected to the NCAA’s All-Tournament Team in 2000. He finished his career with 85 goals, 23 assists, and 108 points, ranking third in JHU history in career goals among midfielders. 

Haugen played on two U.S. National Teams, earning All-World honors as a member of the 1996 gold-medal winning U19 team. He was also a member of the 2006 U.S. Team that claimed silver. Haugen enjoyed a six-year professional career in Major League Lacrosse, earning all-star honors each season. He played on two championship teams, winning the title with the Long Island Lizards in 2001 and 2003. 

“I Iove the sport of lacrosse and can honestly say that I gave everything that I had to it.  And yet, this sport has given me so much more,” Haugen said. “The friendships that I made, the places I got to visit, being able to compete at the highest levels, and being able to represent this country were honestly reward enough for playing this great game.  So to be honored like this is truly incredible.”   

Brandon Testa was Haugen’s teammate in high school, college and in the MLL, and served as his presenter.

“A.J. was a heck of an athlete, and was the definition of leading by example,” Testa said. “He worked harder than everybody, but he was always there supporting everybody also. You could just tell he had something different than most people, and we would gravitate to it, because you could tell it was something special. He was relentless, but it was a positive atmosphere that he would bring. He was the guy who just wanted it more than everybody else.”

Morrow was a three-time All-American defenseman at Princeton University and a two-time winner of the William Schmeisser Award as the national defenseman of the year. He also captured the Raymond Enners Award as the national player of the year in 1993, one year after helping to lead Princeton to its first NCAA championship. 

Morrow played for Team USA in 1994 and 1998, winning the gold medal both times, and he was named to the All-World Team following the 1998 championship. As a businessman, Morrow was a co-founder of Major League Lacrosse, and founder of Warrior Sports. He is credited with developing the titanium lacrosse stick.

Despite his eventual success as a world-class player, he talked about the difficult initial transition to the college game in 1990. 

“When I showed up at Princeton, I was pretty proud of myself because, at the time, I was the best lacrosse player in Michigan, which I didn’t realize was like being the tallest stump in the swamp,” Morrow said. “There’s 44 guys on the team, and I said ‘wow, I’m the 44th guy. This isn’t fun.’ Everything moved so much faster and everybody’s lacrosse I.Q. was so much higher. I just stopped showing up for practice. Coach (Bill) Tierney ripped into me pretty good, so I said ‘okay, I’ll give lacrosse another try.’ I reflect on that a lot, because if he didn’t do that, a lot of my life would be very, very different.”

Tierney served as Morrow’s Hall of Fame presenter.

“That freshman year, it was an uphill grind and he doubted himself a little bit, but he was just a guy who was fast and strong and tenacious. Those things popped out and it didn’t take long to see that stuff,” Tierney said.  “I think once he got over the hump, there was no turning back.  Once he sets his mind on something there is no deviation. I remember thinking to myself ‘I don’t know what he is going to be successful at, but whatever it is, he’s going to be the best.’”

Powell was a four-time collegiate All-American at Syracuse University, and was the winner of both the Raymond Enners Award as the national player of the year and the Jack Turnbull Award as attackman of the year in 2000, helping to lead Syracuse to the NCAA championship. He ranks second in Syracuse history with 287 career points and fifth in career assists, with 150. 

Powell played on the U.S. Men’s World Championship Team in 2006 and 2010, winning the gold medal in 2010. Professionally, he played eight indoor seasons in the National Lacrosse League, finishing with 140 career goals and 377 points. He also played eight outdoor seasons in Major League Lacrosse, finishing with 190 career goals and 180 assists. He was a two-time MLL MVP and MVP of the 2008 MLL All-Star Game. 

Powell joins his brother Casey, a 2017 inductee, in the National Hall of Fame.

“Playing and practicing against some of the best that the game has to offer, day in and day out, made me the player that I became,” he said of his time at Syracuse. “It was also an awesome opportunity to play with Casey for a couple years at Syracuse. We had a lot of fun there. The teams I played on there were really tight, and I have friendships with a lot of those guys that still live on today.”

Kirk Ventiquattro coached all the Powell brothers at Carthage (N.Y.) High School and served as Ryan’s presenter.

“Ryan always had stardom written all over him,” Ventiquattro said. “Ryan was just so hard working and so determined to be a superstar. He might not have been as blessed with natural abilities as some other guys, but he made up for that in determination. One of his greatest attributes was that he made everybody else around him better, and Ryan was the best leader I’ve ever coached. Ryan is getting exactly what he has worked for and exactly what he deserves.”

The National Lacrosse Hall of Fame, a program of US Lacrosse, was established in 1957 to honor men and women who by their deeds as players, coaches, officials and/or contributors, and by the example of their lives, personify the great contribution of lacrosse to our way of life. Over 400 lacrosse greats are honored in the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame & Museum, which is located at US Lacrosse Headquarters in Sparks, Maryland.

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