NAPLES, Fla. - Michael Nathan is a great defenseman, and everyone knows it. He’s so good at it that last season he became the first defender to be named the Naples Daily News Boys Lacrosse Player of the Year.
Nathan is good enough that opposing teams stayed away from him this season, similar to how quarterbacks don’t throw the ball at a defense’s best cornerback. So the Barron Collier senior had to find other ways to contribute.
He found plenty. Nathan did it all for the Cougars this season, from faceoffs to goals to assists, and of course more lockdown defense. In doing so, Nathan became the first two-time Daily News Boys Lacrosse Player of the Year in the six-year history of the award.
“It was a lot of weight on my shoulders, but that’s what I like,” Nathan said. “As a defenseman, you have an impact on the field, but not as much as an offensive player. This year I got to have a bigger impact than if I just played defense.”
Nathan got the Cougars going on faceoffs. When he won possession, he often started his team’s offensive charge.
And coaches let him shoot a little, too. Nathan scored 12 goals this season. A four-year starter for Barron Collier, he had just two goals total his first three years.
The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Nathan also had 80 ground balls and 64 caused turnovers this season.
As a captain, Nathan also was the emotional leader for the Cougars. He served as a coach at times, too, guiding teammates through warm-ups and practices. He also was the leader for Barron Collier’s zone defense that gave up 5.4 goals per game. Nathan keyed on the opposing team’s best player, regardless of position.
The Cougars allowed just nine goals in their first four playoff games before losing 12-10 to St. Thomas Aquinas in the quarterfinals of the single-class state tournament.
“I had to step up,” Nathan said. “I needed to do whatever Coach (Trent Carter) asked me to do. I’ve worked hard since I started playing lacrosse in order to have all the weight on my shoulders and succeed with that.”
Nathan probably could have found a Division I college team. Instead, he wanted to find the strongest academic school where he could still play lacrosse. He’s headed to Colby College, a Division II school in Waterville, Maine.
A top 50 student in his class with a 4.8 weighted grade-point average, Nathan plans to study economics and work in finance upon graduation.