Prototype LSM Kyle Sweeney Joining National Lacrosse Hall of Fame
Hall of Fame player Ryan Boyle had an up-close view of Kyle Sweeney’s career. They started as college opponents in the early 2000s, but later became teammates as professional players and on the U.S. National Team.
From those shared experiences, Boyle has forged a strong opinion about Sweeney’s impact on the game.
“When you look at the modern long-stick midfield position, he is the prototype,” Boyle said. “He set the standard.”
Boyle’s description of his friend may be completely accurate when you consider the overall skill set that Sweeney brought to the field.
Not only was Sweeney a shut-down defender, but he was also a magnet for ground balls, a weapon on the wing during faceoffs and a fleet-footed defender with great stick skills who would push the transition.
“He would go behind the goal offensively,” Boyle said. “What LSM do you see behind the cage? But not only would you see it, but as a teammate, you would throw him the ball and consider that to be a good decision.”
Boyle viewed Sweeney as more than just a decoy on the offensive end. He was, in fact, a legitimate scoring option well before other poles developed that part of their game.
“He could score from angles and see scoring opportunities that, frankly, no one else had the ability to execute,” Boyle said. “That really set him apart and made him one of one.”
It was not uncommon to look at the box score after a game and notice that Sweeney had actually outscored his offensive matchup, a true rarity for defensive players.
“When I was playing, it wasn’t as common for long poles to carry the ball down, be involved in the offense, to score or have assists,” Sweeney said. “The general sentiment was basically get the ball and get the heck off the field.”
Sweeney was a three-time All-American at Georgetown while also being named twice as the ECAC’s Defensive Player of the Year. After graduating from Georgetown in 2003 as the Hoyas’ all-time leader in ground balls, Sweeney enjoyed a long and successful professional career, playing in both Major League Lacrosse and the National Lacrosse League, while garnering All-Star honors 10 times. He won four MLL championships over the course of 15 years.
Sweeney also played on the 2006 and 2010 U.S. Men’s National Teams, capturing gold in 2010 while being named to the All-World team. He will be officially inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame this Saturday, January 6, as one of eight members of the Class of 2023.
Boyle noted that Sweeney’s great game knowledge, combined with his physical skills, set him apart from other defenders.
“You start with his IQ and then match that with his speed and footwork, and that’s why opponents just couldn’t get any leverage or separation against him,” Boyle said. “And when you combine all that with his stick work, and how he could attack with either hand, he was kind of otherworldly.”