Boston (October 5, 2019)
- Liam Byrnes
of the Atlanta Blaze has been awarded the Warrior Defensive Player of the Year Award at the 2019 MLL Honors, having taken place at Union Station in Denver, CO. on Saturday October 5.
The third-year defenseman led the MLL in caused turnovers with 30 and finished first among defenseman in groundballs with 64 in 16 games played. His exemplary defensive play has led the Blaze to their first playoff appearance in team history with an 8-8 record.
Byrnes was able to beat out the other Warrior Defensive Player of the Year finalists who were Ryland Rees of the Boston Cannons and Finn Sullivan of the Denver Outlaws. Rees finished the season with 63 groundballs, 23 groundball turnovers and 15 caused turnovers in 16 games as he helped the Cannons to their first playoff appearance since 2015. Sullivan had an impressive season as well as he finished with 27 groundballs, 12 groundball turnovers and 8 caused turnovers in 15 games played, which helped the defending champion Outlaws return to the playoffs with a 9-7 record.
With this award, Byrnes becomes the first player in Atlanta Blaze history to win the Defensive Player of the Year Award. He finished with six more caused turnovers than the next highest player in the league and ranked in the top of many of the defensive statistics in the 2019 season. Byrnes also finished the season with 21 more groundballs, two more groundball turnovers and 15 more forced turnovers than the next highest defensemen on the Blaze. The 2019 season has been a massive improvement over the 2018 season for Byrnes which he finished with 43 ground balls and 17 caused turnovers in 14 games played for the Blaze.
The 2019 Warrior Defensive Player of the Year is a product of Marquette University as he totaled 218 groundballs and 102 caused turnovers in 61 games in his impressive collegiate career. His play at Marquette was enough for Byrnes to be selected with the 21st pick in the 2016 MLL Collegiate Draft. He played with the Florida Launch before being traded to the Blaze in March of 2018 and went on to have an impressive third year with his new team.
“He has been such a big part of what we have been able to do this year,” Chris Madalon, veteran goalie for the Blaze says. “Not a lot of people like to focus on the defensive part of the game, but it’s been pretty obvious that his impact on our team has been huge all through the season, even going back to last year.”
The Chesapeake Bayhawks will play the Denver Outlaws for the MLL Championship on Sunday at 1:00 P.M. EDT/ 11:00 MDT at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park
in Commerce City, CO. The MLL Championship Game will air live on ESPN2. Tickets are currently available on majorleaguelacrosse.com
About Major League Lacrosse:
Major League Lacrosse (MLL), based in Boston, is the premier professional field lacrosse league. MLL has led lacrosse’s growth into the mainstream of competitive team sports since 2001. In the spring of 2018, MLL entered into new leadership for the first time in 14 years when it selected Alexander Brown as the Commissioner. Since that time MLL has been on an aggressive path towards sustainably developing and growing the league. The league currently features six teams: the Atlanta Blaze, the Boston Cannons, the Chesapeake Bayhawks, the Dallas Rattlers, the Denver Outlaws, and the New York Lizards. Tickets for the 2019 season and the 2019 Championship are available on majorleaguelacrosse.com
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