Chesapeake Bayhawks defenseman Michael Evans was at home Sunday helping celebrate his parents’ 33rd wedding anniversary and preparing for the Major League Lacrosse playoffs, according to his Twitter account.
But as he gets ready to head to Championship Weekend presented by Smartlink, August 24-25, Evans has an honor of his own to celebrate. He is the 2013 Examiner Defenseman of the Year in MLL, it was announced Monday.
No stranger to accolades, the Davidsonville, Maryland native was a first-team All-American and won the Schmeisser Award as NCAA Division I Defenseman of the Year at Johns Hopkins in 2009, and helped the Blue Jays to a national championship in 2007. He is a four-time MLL All-Star and two-time champion in his five seasons with the Bayhawks.
“It’s always a tremendous honor to be considered an All-Star in a league with so many great players,” Evans said.
Not only will Evans lead what is considered to be the league’s best defensive unit as the Bayhawks take on the third-seeded Hamilton Nationals in Saturday’s semifinal, he will be one of the Team USA prospects at training camp the following weekend at Goucher College in Baltimore.
“To put on the country’s colors and represent the United States in international competition is the all-time goal of any athlete,” Evans said. “It’s a great accomplishment just to be selected to try out because the U.S. has so many talented players.”
Acclaimed as a “shutdown” defenseman, Evans typically has the assignment of covering an opponent’s top scorer. Those man-to-man matchups managed only a scant 10 goals against Evans this season. Five times he held his man without a goal – including three of MLL’s top 20 scorers (New York’s Rob Pannell, Denver’s Brendan Mundorf, and Ohio’s Steele Stanwick). Evans anchors a Bayhawk defensive corps that surrendered the second-fewest goals in the league this season (149).
Known for a relentless, punishing, physical playing style, the 6’0”, 220-pound Evans and his fellow long-poles inspired a nickname from Cottle – “The Pain Train”. His toughness is without question. He once even played the fourth quarter of a high school football game with a broken leg.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to be blessed with pretty quick feet,” Evans said, “and I try to use my strength and physicality in the game.”
In four of his first five regular-seasons with Chesapeake, Evans has played in 10 or more games, and Saturday’s semifinal will be his sixth postseason contest.
Evans edged out the Denver Outlaws’ Lee Zink (Maryland) who was MLL’s 2012 selection for its own Defensive Player of the Year Award. Hamilton Nationals long-stick midfielder and defender Brodie Merrill came in third. Other contenders this year included Evans’ former Blue Jay teammate Matt Bocklet (Denver/Johns Hopkins), Jesse Bernhardt (Chesapeake/Maryland), Tucker Durkin (Hamilton/Johns Hopkins), short-stick Matt Abbott (Chesapeake), Joe Cinosky (Charlotte/Maryland) Barney Ehrmann (Chesapeake), and Mike Manley (Rochester).
Unlike the League recognition which is strictly by vote of MLL’s eight coaches and eight general managers, the Examiner award is determined by a breakdown of statistical analysis combined with the player’s impact on his team’s success.