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Player Profile of the Best: Michael Watson

University of Virginia; All-American 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997

(from a recent interview by Great Atlantic Lacrosse)

Many people feel that the trio of Tim Whitely, Michael Watson, and Doug Knight was the most dangerous attack unit ever. What it was like playing on that unit comprised of three All-Americans?
Both Tim and Doug were such good athletes that the level of play was raised immediately. We were able to feed off of each others talents and borrow certain things from each players bag of tricks to make us better all around players. Tim was the quarterback of the offense and he had the remarkable ability to get you the ball even if you weren't open. Dougy was so unorthodox the way he would literally launch himself at the goal without any regard for his body. I think we all taught each other some aspect if our game whether it was a certain skill or style of play which helped raise our level of play as a unit.

Describe you style of play.
I like to think of myself as a player who does a little bit of everything well. I try to use quickness and power to gain an advantage whether I'm riding or attacking the defense. I consider myself creative and unafraid to try new things. If I had to name a strong point it would probably be riding. Many attackman give up after the goalie makes a save, I think an aggressive ride is just as important as a good feed. I take pride in the fact that I was considered a good rider. Generating a goal off a ride can really deflate at defense and our attack unit would focus on getting some "cheap" goals.

Do you feel that you had anything to do with the new "no dive" rule? How do you think it will change the game?
I would assume that I had a little to do with it. I think it is unfortunate because the fans love seeing a player leave their feet and fly through the air. It was an added excitement to each game. Also many player were starting to perfect the dive, it was no longer a gamble but it was becoming a real offensive weapon for many teams. I know we had a lot of fun with the dive at Virginia. The only thing that it will change is that the game will be a little bit less exciting and it will make an easy call for the officials a little easier.

What is your most memorable moment in the sport of lacrosse?
It is probably a tie between winning a world championship this summer and in the 8th grade, hitting Steve Karvounis so hard causing him to unswallow right there infront of me. There are so many great memories that lacrosse has and will continue to give me but those two, although at both ends of the spectrum, will always stick out in my mind.

Describe your experience playing in the World Games in your hometown of Baltimore.
It really was an incredible feeling to be on a stage like that in front of my friends and family. The reception I received was something I will not forget and I am thankful for that. I had the chance to play with some players that I had watched when I was younger. The atmosphere was electric each night we played seeing that Homewood Field was packed with over 10,000 fans each night. I don't think I have ever been apart of such a wild game in our overtime victory against Canada. To think I had this opportunity in my own hometown, in front of family members and friends, made the experience that much more memorable.

How does the World Games experience compare to winning the ACC Championship and playing in 3 Final Fours?
It is hard for me to compare the college experience and the World Games. One was a long four year quest full of highs and lows chasing an NCAA championship. The other lasted only a few weeks and ended with a gold medal. Anytime your playing for your country it is a different experience. It was a pretty special feeling putting on the USA jersey and looking in the crowd seeing American flags waving. I had so much fun competing on both levels I just feel fortunate that I was able to experience the things I have in the sport of lacrosse.

Describe your experiences in the Final Four and what was your feeling playing in front of over 30,000 people?
I was just in awe my freshman year standing on the field in Byrd Stadium listening to all of those people. There is no way to prepare yourself for that kind of atmosphere. During the season, we play in front of 4,000 people; and that's a huge crowd. To play in front of 30,000 and have ESPN cameras all over the place is a totally different environment. Every athlete has that childhood dream to compete for the National Championship in front of a sold out crowd on live television. For lacrosse this happens one weekend in May each year and it brings the best out of each player. I had the opportunity to take part in this three times. You really can't describe the feeling of when the team bus pulls into the parking lot for the game and they're people already there partying and tailgating and the game isnąt for a few hours! This feeling motivated me each year to get back and I never once took it it for granted.

What players did you look up to when you were younger?
The first player I remember looking up to was Dennis Goldstein from North Carolina. He was a great all around attackman. He was both a great feeder and a great goal scorer as well. From the times I watched him play, he was uncoverable and would cater his game to what the defense was giving him. He did the little things well like riding and getting groundballs. When I was younger, I looked at him as the complete attackman and tried to imitate my style of play after his.

What advice would you give to younger players today?
The biggest advice I could give is to have fun with sports in general. Play as many different sports as you can because it can only make you a better all around athlete. Whenever you do play sports, give 100%. Never leave the field with the feeling that you could have given more effort.

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Doug Knight
University of Virginia
All-American 1994, 1995, 1996

Michael Watson
University of Virginia
All-American 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997

Casey Powell
Syracuse University
All-American 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998 Become a Better Lacrosse Player
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