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Michael Ehrhardt celebrates with U.S. teammate Kieran McArdle after the 2023 World Lacrosse Men's Championship final in San Diego.

Former World Championship MVP Michael Ehrhardt Retires from Pro Lacrosse

April 2, 2024
Matt DaSilva
Matt Furman

Michael Ehrhardt, whose MVP performance at the 2018 World Lacrosse Men’s Championship propelled him to a new level of stardom in the sport, announced Tuesday morning on social media that he’s retiring after 10 years as a professional player.

Ehrhardt, 32, got married in October. He and his wife, Maureen, are expecting a child later this year.

He’s also achieved everything he set out to do in lacrosse, including leading the United States to its second consecutive gold medal as one of the team’s captains last summer in San Diego.

“I went into the last world championship knowing this was the last thing I wanted to do. It’s the thing I had circled,” Ehrhardt said in an interview with USA Lacrosse Magazine. “I was lucky enough to get a couple of professional championships and two world championships now. It’s all I could have ever asked for.  I still feel I have the ability to compete at a high level. It’s just, life goes on. I wish I could do it forever. But I felt like it was my time.”

A two-time All-American at Maryland, Ehrhardt began his professional career in Major League Lacrosse, playing five seasons with the Charlotte Hounds. In addition to his defensive prowess, he began to establish himself as an offensive threat in the transition game. Ehrhardt registered 30 points in his final two seasons with the Hounds.

At the behest of then-Hounds and USA assistant coach Tony Resch, Ehrhardt tried out for the national team and made it as one of three long-stick midfielders who traveled to Israel in 2018. He shed 20 pounds to prepare for two weeks of competition in the Middle East, drawing the attention of the lacrosse world when he dislodged the stick from Lyle Thompson’s hands in the world championship opener against the Haudenosaunee Nation.

Ehrhardt was a menace for the next 10 days on faceoff wings and on the defensive half of the field, securing 26 ground balls, scoring a pair of goals in a win over Australia and neutralizing every matchup he encountered.

After the U.S. defeated Canada in the final on a last-second goal, World Lacrosse named Ehrhardt the tournament’s MVP, making him just the second defensive player ever to earn the award.

That was just the beginning of Ehrhardt’s ascent. He signed with the Premier Lacrosse League, led the Whipsnakes to consecutive PLL championships and won five straight PLL LSM of the Year Awards. No one else has won the award, which is named after Brodie Merrill, who also retired at the end of last season.

How much longer could Ehrhardt have played? That question and the PLL’s decision to assign host cities to its eight teams — with the Whipsnakes going to Maryland — convinced him to wait until the new year to decide on retirement. Ehrhardt’s contract expired at the end of 2023. He also has a demanding full-time job as the vice president of a commercial title insurance company in New York.

“I always told myself I’d love to go out on my own terms,” said Ehrhardt, who has dealt with hand, groin and hamstring injuries over the last five years. “As sad as it is to walk away from the game, this really is the right time.”

Michael Ehrhardt in action at the 2023 World Lacrosse Men's Championship
After winning world championship MVP honors in 2018, Ehrhardt was one of the captains for the U.S. team at the 2023 World Lacrosse Men's Championship in San Diego.
Ric Tapia

Ehrhardt played 99 games as a pro and finished his career with 43 goals, 21 assists, 346 ground balls and 88 caused turnovers.

With Merrill and two-time U.S. team member Kyle Hartzell also retiring, it feels like the end of a golden era for long-stick midfielders.

Merrill’s predecessor at the position at Georgetown, two-time U.S. team member Kyle Sweeney, was inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame earlier this year — joining Hopkins great Steve Mitchell as the only LSMs so enshrined.

Merrill, Ehrhardt, Hartzell and Joel White (retired after the 2021 season) could soon join them there.

Seven-time pro all-star Scott Ratliff with his iron man streak of 122 consecutive games that ended only when he retired after the 2022 campaign also merits consideration.

CJ Costabile, 34, renewed his contract for another year with the Carolina Chaos. He’s best known for his heroics in the 2010 NCAA championship game, when he won the overtime faceoff and scored five seconds later to lift the Blue Devils to their first national title with a 6-5 win over Notre Dame.

“Each one of those guys has their own piece of history with the position,” said Ehrhardt, who moved from close defense to long-stick midfield as a senior at Maryland and successor to three-time U.S. team member Jesse Bernhardt at the position. “They all made a name for themselves and helped propel the position. I respect the hell out of all of them.”

Ehrhardt knows he will feel wistful when PLL training camp opens in June. Or when the Breakfast Club — a group of pro players who work in New York City and train together on a turf field in lower Manhattan in a tradition established by another LSM legend, Mitch Belisle — convenes without him.

“I’m going to have some pretty bad FOMO. Some of my closest friends and teammates are still playing,” Ehrhardt said. “But I have some important things going on at home. I’m at peace with my decision.”

Ehrhardt hinted he might retire last year. The Maryland Whipsnakes responded by acquiring long-stick midfielder Matt Rees and draft capital from the Boston Cannons in an offseason trade for defenseman Bryce Young and midfielder Connor Kirst. They also have Colin Squires and Elijah Gash on the roster.

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