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Byrnes, Woodall Take Home Gold at 2019 MLL Honors

January 1, 2020 - Major League Lacrosse (MLL) - Atlanta Blaze News Release

On October 5th, Major League Lacrosse held the 2019 MLL Honors Award show to recognize players for their outstanding performances this 2019 as a part of the Championship weekend festivities. After enjoying their best season to date, six Blaze finalists represented Atlanta in six of the eight award categories. By the end of the night, two Blaze players heard their names called for awards. 

In his second season with the Blaze, defenseman Liam Byrnes was named the Warrior Defensive Player of the Year. Byrnes led the league with 30 caused turnovers and finished first among defenders with 64 ground balls collected this season. Byrnes had previously been named Warrior Defensive Player of the Week for his excellent performances in both Weeks 5 and 14. His work for Atlanta helped to push them to their first-ever playoff appearance in 2019.

Byrnes was traded from the Florida Launch to Atlanta in exchange for the 11th and 24th picks of the 2018 MLL Collegiate Draft. He immediately made his presence felt, collecting 43 ground balls and causing 17 turnovers on his way to making the 2018 All-Star game. After setting a new MLL record with 30 caused turnovers, Byrnes becomes the first player in Blaze franchise history to win the Defensive Player of the Year award.

In his first year out of Towson, Alex Woodall also becomes the first Blaze player in franchise history to take home the Cascade Rookie of the Year award. After being selected by Atlanta in the MLL Rookie Selection on April 26th, 2019, Woodall signed with the Blaze on May 15th, 2019. He has been a mainstay for the Blaze at faceoff, finishing the season with a 50% faceoff percentage while taking all but three faceoffs for Atlanta.

Woodall led the league with 140 ground balls and set a Blaze single-game record with 20 ground balls on August 3rd. Woodall already holds the Lifetime Blaze record for faceoffs won (232) and single-season ground balls record (140) in his first full season in the MLL. He was also selected to participate in the 2019 All-Star game.

A co-captain his senior year at Towson, Alex won an astounding 74.2% of his faceoffs, second nationally and in school history. He became the program's all-time faceoff wins leader against Hofstra on March 30th, 2019. He finished his collegiate career with 583 faceoff wins and was a First Team All-CAA selection. Woodall was drafted first overall in the 2019 MLL Collegiate Draft on March 9th.

Both of these players served as integral factors for the Blaze, helping Atlanta improve in all phases of the game. The results were visible- Atlanta finished with an 8-8 record and clinched their first-ever playoff berth in Blaze history. Atlanta's season ended in the semifinals in an overtime thriller to the 2019 MLL Champion Chesapeake Bayhawks. With the franchise trending upwards, the Blaze hopes to improve even more on a record-breaking 2019 season.

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