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By Paul Ohanian
US Lacrosse and Major League Lacrosse have named Chesapeake Bayhawks midfielder Matt Abbott as the winner of the Sportsmanship Player of the Year Award, and the Rochester Rattlers as the winner of the league's Team Sportsmanship Award. Both selections were based on voting conducted among the league's game officials.
The team sportsmanship award is being presented for the first time in 2014 and is part of a joint partnership between Major League Lacrosse and US Lacrosse to promote good sportsmanship in lacrosse. Three monthly sportsmanship winners—Rochester (May), Florida Launch (June) and Boston Cannons (July)—were also selected by the league's officials this season.
"Growing the game has a lot of responsibility tied to it, and as professional lacrosse players and ambassadors for lacrosse, there is an even larger responsibility in being a great role model for younger players," said Stephen Berger, men's game director at US Lacrosse. "On behalf of US Lacrosse, I'd like to congratulate Matt Abbott as the winner of the sportsmanship award and for 'competing with class' and 'honoring the game' both on and off the field."
Abbott put up eight goals and eight assists this season, and was named to the 2014 U.S. Men’s National Team, where he won the silver medal at the FIL World Championship in July. The six-year veteran is known for his positive behavior on and off the field. On the field, Abbott is regarded as one of the world’s best all-around players, and known for being able to adjust his style of play to match any game situation. When not in season with the Bayhawks, Abbott stays involved in the sport, keeping up his conditioning and working as a part-time assistant coach at Colgate.
"This is a huge surprise, but I am incredibly humbled and honored to receive this award," said Abbott. "This game has given me plenty of opportunities and I always try to play the game a certain way. I have a lot of respect for the game and always try to play it the right way. I am grateful to US Lacrosse and the MLL for honoring me."
Abbott's year-round involvement in the sport and his willingness to play multiple roles for his team were certainly reason for the award.
"US Lacrosse would like to congratulate the Rochester Rattlers for their exemplary sportsmanship throughout the 2014 season and for this selection from the league’s game officials," Berger said. "We had three worthy recipients of the monthly team sportsmanship award, and we are encouraged that selecting just one team for this inaugural award was a difficult selection for the officials to make. That speaks to the high level of sportsmanship that many of the teams exhibited throughout the season."
The Rochester Rattlers, winners of one of the monthly awards earlier this season, have displayed tremendous sportsmanship in their journey to the MLL championship game, something the coaches and players all take pride in.
"This is a very important award for us. Competing with class is something I picked up early on in my coaching career and is something we stress with our players every week," said Tim Soudan, Rattlers head coach. "We have a great group of guys who go above and beyond to make sure that they carry our values on and off the field. We always preach about being a family and I am very proud of this group and honored we received this award."
Catch the Rochester Rattlers in action this Saturday as they take on the Denver Outlaws in the 2014 MLL Championship Game at Fifth Third Bank Stadium in Atlanta. Tickets for the Championship Game can be purchased here.
US Lacrosse and Major League Lacrosse encourage all lacrosse participants take the pledge to compete with class and honor the game. To read more about this sportsmanship initiative, please visit uslacrosse.org/competewithclass.
Read more about the US Lacrosse “Compete with Class, Honor the Game” sportsmanship initiative, including ways you can help. You can also share examples of good sportsmanship on Twitter using hashtag #CompeteWithClass.
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US Lacrosse has named 105 players that have been selected to try out for the 2016-17 U.S. Women’s National Team. Tryouts will be held from Aug. 5-7 at the national team training center at US Lacrosse headquarters in Sparks, Md.