Monday, December 21, 2020

Thanks For The Memories, MLL

Back in 1960, Princeton defeated Cornell 6-5 on the final day of the season to win the Ivy League men's lacrosse championship. 

The deciding goal was scored by Cookie Krongard, then a junior. It was his only goal of the game, or, more accurately, the only goal of his career.

Then again, he did make 20 saves in that Cornell game. Cookie was the team's goalie.

In fact, he was a three-year starter for the Tigers, from 1959-61. He was a two-time first-team All-Ivy League selection and a 1961 first-team All-American. 

Princeton went 14-0-1 in Ivy League games in his three years. In 1985, he was inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame, a few years after his older brother Buzzy had been.

That, however, was hardly the end of his lacrosse career. 

To this day Cookie can be found jumping into the cage at an alumni game. And, back in 2008, when he was 67 years old, he tried out for Major League Lacrosse.


In fact TigerBlog stumbled on a quote from Rob Scherr, who played at Johns Hopkins and was the starting goalie at the time for the New Jersey Pride, the team for which Cookie auditioned.

“I was very surprised in how he stepped in there and took the shots. He was getting knocks all over the place and stayed in. A lot of people don’t have the guts to even get in there at the level we do. But a 67-year-old guy coming in, that’s pretty interesting and pretty spectacular.”

Cookie's attempt to play in Major League Lacrosse at the age of 67 is one of the better stories of Princeton's history with the league. 

The news came last week that MLL is to be no more, after its 20 year run as a groundbreaking outdoor professional lacrosse league. MLL has technically merged with the Premiere Lacrosse League, which came on the scene two years ago, creating two outdoor leagues.

From the start it seemed like two leagues was one too many. And, once the PLL took almost all of the best players and with its NBC contract and corporate sponsorship, it seemed like a real uphill battle for MLL.

With the merger, the Boston Cannons will become the eighth PLL team and will become the Cannons LC. The current Cannons roster won't make up the new one, which instead will be set the same way that the Waterdogs were last year, as an expansion team. 

TigerBlog, for one, will miss MLL. He's enjoyed following the league all these years, which isn't that surprising.

Princeton had a very strong impact on the old league. TB made a list of about 20 players who competed in MLL, and he's pretty sure he's missing a few.

The very first MLL player was a Princeton alum, Ryan Mollett, who was the first pick of the first MLL draft back in 2001. Jesse Hubbard at one point was the league's all-time leader in goals scored; Ryan Boyle at one point was the league's all-time leader in assists and points.

Kevin Lowe scored an overtime goal in an MLL championship game for the Long Island Lizards, making him the only player ever to score an OT goal in both an NCAA final and an MLL final. Boyle and Matt Striebel won three championships together with the Philadelphia Barrage, and Boyle added another with the Cannons.

Tom Schreiber was a league MVP and champion, with the Ohio Machine. Zach Currier also won a championship with the Denver Outlaws. Josh Sims won two championships with the Chesapeake Bayhawks.

Chris Aslanian, last year's volunteer assistant coach, was an MLL Rookie of the Year. 

That's all off the top of his head. He must be forgetting others.

When the news came, TB felt badly for all of the players who would have been playing professionally but now won't, not to mention all of the others who worked and coached in the league. 

The PLL is a cutting edge professional league, polished in every way. MLL wasn't quite as polished, but it was a lot of fun.

It was more than that, though. It was also important. It was a hugely important first step for professional outdoor lacrosse in this country.

It leaves behind a very solid legacy.

And it also leaves behind a lot of great memories for the Princeton players who were such a huge part of Major League Lacrosse during its 20 years.

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