First-Time MLL All-Stars Excited to Represent Revamped League


Brendan Kavanagh, brother of Matt Kavanagh, has emerged as a threat for the Outlaws and makes his first All-Star Game.

The landscape of Major League Lacrosse has drastically changed compared to previous seasons. This is especially true of the star power in the league.

With the MLL All-Star Game approaching, most of the usual suspects one would expect to see on the big stage are no longer with the league. The past three All-Star Game MVPs no longer play in the league, and of the 29 players who were selected to play for the MLL All-Stars in the 2018 All-Star Game (not including those that played for Team USA), only five are still MLL players (three of the 29 players on the Team USA roster are playing in MLL in 2018).

The absences of these players created new opportunities for others, however. There are a number of first-time All-Stars in 2019, and those players are making the most of their opportunities.

“Last year, when Team USA was in the World Games, and the main guys from every team were playing overseas in Israel for Team USA, that created that vacuum you see now in the league,” Boston Cannons defender and first-time all-star James Fahey said. “All the big-name players were gone. It was just guys on the practice squad, guys who didn’t necessarily have that big name, guys who didn’t necessarily get their shot. They had their shot that weekend. In those games, we still had 60 minutes of great product of lacrosse. After that game, I know a lot of guys, myself personally, we all had in our heads if this other league happens, we’re going to be good. We’re going to be fine. We know we can play. We know there’s guys around this league that can play.”

In the 2019 MLL All-Star Game, Team Ice and Team Fire are led by Lyle Thompson and Rob Pannell, respectively. Both are former Tewaaraton Trophy winners with large followings. It’s not surprising either is in the All-Star game.

Kavanagh is also a name one would expect to see in the MLL All-Star Game, except it is not former Notre Dame attackman and 2018 MLL Championship MVP Matt Kavanagh, however; in 2019, Matt’s younger brother, Brendan Kavanagh, Denver’s leading scorer, makes his first All-Star Game appearance.

“It gave me a learning experience to watch him and see what he did and implement it in my own game,” the younger Kavanagh said. “He’s a great player. He did well in college and now in the pro ranks. I’m going to try and be as successful as I can not only in this all-star game, but with the Denver Outlaws.”

In four seasons at Hofstra, Kavanagh scored 48 goals and added 27 assists in 51 career games. He was an All-CAA first-team selection as a junior in 2017. He went undrafted in the 2018 collegiate draft and was picked up by the Denver Outlaws in the supplemental draft.

Kavanagh was impressive in his MLL debut in the first game of the 2019 season, leading the Outlaws in points (two goals and two assists) in the team’s victory over the Lizards in the season opener. He has continued to be an integral part of the Outlaws offense with 14 goals and 12 assists in eight games.

“I think he’s terrific,” Outlaws head coach Tony Seaman said. “He’s been an unbelievable advantage for us this year, and he’s having a great, great season. He’s a tough little ruthless kid who goes to the goal, and he doesn’t care what name or who is guarding him or how tough this guy is supposed to be. He’s going to the goal. He’s a good shooter. He’s been terrific.”

Kavanagh said it was an honor to be selected by the fans to play in the All-Star Game.

“There’s so much talent in the league right now,” he said. “Names that weren’t household names are starting to be household names. There are a lot of great players.”

Another 2018 college graduate, Bryce Wasserman, is appearing in his first all-star game.

Wasserman was drafted with the penultimate pick in the 2018 MLL Collegiate Draft by the Denver Outlaws, becoming the first player from Monmouth to be drafted into professional lacrosse. He never made the active roster, however, and asked to be released in hopes of catching on somewhere else.

He joined the Ohio Machine, and in three games he scored eight goals and added two assists. He was expected to be a big part of the Machine organization on and off the field, but Ohio ceased operations before the season. Wasserman was picked up by his hometown Dallas Rattlers. Through eight games he has 13 goals and two assists.

Wasserman said his All-Star selection was validation of the work he has put in to get to this point.

“It always felt like being counted out,” Wasserman said. “It gives you the confidence to perform. I’m honored because I grew up watching those big names like Shawn Nadelen and Buggs Combs. To be following in their footsteps is a lot of fun for me.”

Not only is being in the game special for Wasserman, he’s also excited to be playing his first game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

“The first pro game I went to in 2009, I think it was, I got to warm up Buggs and Coach Nadelen,” he said. “It’s my first time stepping back on the field at Navy. It’s pretty fun to see that come full circle.”

Wasserman and Kavanagh are just a couple of the first-time All-Stars; Wasserman is joined by teammates Jack Curran, Jake Pulver, and Craig Chick. Other Outlaws first-timers include Mike Schlosser, Finn Sullivan, Max Adler, and Dillon Ward.

Other first-time all-stars include rookies like Atlanta’s T.J. Comizio, Alex Woodall, and Brendan Sunday and Boston’s Zach Goodrich, Justin Pugal, and Ryland Rees. There’s also box lacrosse mainstays Randy Staats and Shayne Jackson, who in previous seasons didn’t play many MLL games due to the National Lacrosse League schedule overlap.

“I think just the experience as a whole, being a part of it, interacting with players you’ve gone against, it’s a cool experience,” Kavanagh said. “I’m looking forward to playing with a bunch of talented guys.”

Add in superstars like Pannell and Thompson as well as the legendary John Grant Jr., and the All-Star Game will be a talented affair, one that budding stars like Kavanagh and Wasserman can’t wait to be a part of.

 “I’m incredibly excited to play alongside Lyle and John Grant Jr,” Wasserman said. “Those are two of the most famous names in the game. I’m looking forward to seeing the things they do in the locker room, in practice, in games, to pick up things. I get to team back up with Ben Randall. I couldn’t be more pumped to be with one of my best friends from Ohio.

“It’s exciting for me to work even harder to elevate in that next level to be in the MVP race and those things,” he added. “The job is never done.”

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