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Thomas O'Connell has Bright Future for Lizards, Puerto Rico Lacrosse

September 21, 2020 - Major League Lacrosse (MLL) - New York Lizards News Release

New York Lizards short stick defensive midfielder, Thomas O'Connell, is no stranger to the top echelon of lacrosse competition. The Long Island native competed for Puerto Rico in the 2018 Federation of International Lacrosse World Championships in Netanya, Israel before his senior year in college.

O'Connell, who's mother's side of the family is Puerto Rican, helped Puerto Rico to an eighth place finish out of 46 countries.

"Both of my grandparents were born in Puerto Rico and moved to New York when they were young,"  O'Connell shared. "When I told them that there was a Puerto Rican team that I could try out for and they both got excited. One thing led to another, and I made the team. It was very exciting for my grandma and grandpa."

"When I got to the world games and saw all of these different countries coming together to play and excited to play lacrosse and having the game bringing us all together, it was really cool" said O'Connell. "I just loved that overall experience and getting to see how the sport is so much bigger than I had ever imagined and is still growing. When I was a kid, I thought it was just Long Island."

O'Connell began playing lacrosse in Mineola, New York, his hometown, while he was still in elementary school and eventually made the Junior Lizards Travel Team in seventh grade. The team was coached by Todd Esposito, who, at the time, was also an assistant coach for the New York Lizards.

"I started playing lacrosse because it had similar concepts to basketball with pick and rolls, transitions and defense," O'Connell said. "And as soon as I played one game I fell in love with lacrosse right away and gave up baseball immediately."

His decision to focus on lacrosse proved to be the right one. O'Connell went on to play for Chaminade High School, Long Island Express and ultimately the University of Maryland. While playing for the Terps, he won two Big Ten Championships, won the 2017 NCAA National Championship up in Foxboro, was a 3x Big Ten All-Academic Team selection, served as team captain and won the Dick Edell "Big Man" Award at graduation, which honors the player that best exemplifies the selfless and positive qualities of the late coach.

Less than a year after graduating from Maryland, O'Connell was selected by the Lizards in the Major League Lacrosse 2020 Supplemental Draft. He played in all five games with New York this season and had one shot and four ground balls.

As for his future with Puerto Rico in the 2022 Lacrosse World Championships, O'Connell is already looking forward to it.

"I want to play lacrosse as long as I can, especially for team Puerto Rico," said O'Connell. "My younger brother is playing basketball at Stanford now, but was originally committed to Maryland for lacrosse, and we've never had the chance to play together. So to get to represent our heritage and our grandparents while having our first opportunity to play together would be awesome. I'm definitely looking forward to those games in 2022."

Thomas O'Connell Instagram: @thomas_oc12

?Thomas O'Connell Twitter: @ThomasOC_12

New York Lizards Instagram: @nylizards

New York Lizards Twitter: @LizardsLacrosse


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