Daily Archives: February 13, 2009

Chapman University Lacrosse Senior Middie Mike Clayton Is Lacrosse Magazine’s Preseason Player Of The Year


mikeclayton_chapman_lacrosseMike Clayton, Chapman (Calif.) University’s sublime, if unheralded, midfielder is not only the engine of the best team in the MCLA, but he also is the association’s premier two-way player.

Clayton, a senior, finished with 44 goals and 14 assists last year, which are heady numbers for a middie on a loaded squad. What pushes him over the top is his full-field dedication.

http://www.laxmagazine.com/college_men/club/2008-09/news/02-11-2009

There were 74 All-Americans, from first-team through honorable mention, in the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association (MCLA) Division I last spring. Our preseason player of the year wasn’t one of them.

You can almost hear a chorus from the MCLA now: Lacrosse Magazine is out of touch with our league. But you’ll see.

Mike Clayton, Chapman (Calif.) University’s sublime, if unheralded, midfielder is not only the engine of the best team in the MCLA, but he also is the association’s premier two-way player.

“He’s our best kid,” confirmed Chapman coach Mike Wood. “Kyle Harrison will run with us once in a while, and he even said, ‘Hey, Clayton, you can play in the MLL.'”

So if this guy is so good, why wasn’t he an All-American? Short answer: a player must be a first team all-conference guy to qualify for MCLA honors and Clayton – due to coaching myopia or conference politics – was placed on the All-Western Collegiate Lacrosse League’s second team. Anyone who was in Dallas for the MCLA semifinals and finals last year, where Chapman lost in the title game to Michigan, understood that Clayton was the most versatile player in Texas Stadium.

Clayton, a senior, finished with 44 goals and 14 assists last year, which are heady numbers for a middie on a loaded squad. What pushes him over the top is his full-field dedication.

“He’s the best defender we’ve got as a shorty, no question about that,” said Wood, who guided the Panthers to a 19-2 mark in 2008. “And he can run all day, hard and fast. On offense, he’s a change-of-gear guy. He’ll glide, glide, glide, and then he’ll go by you. Our young guys, man, he scares the crap out of them.”

“I wouldn’t consider myself that great on offense, my style is all about the hustle play,” said Clayton, who was born in New Zealand and has dual citizenship. “The midfielder’s job isn’t to score a lot of goals; it’s about being a part of the offense and the defense. Also, I can’t stand being on one side of the field and watching other guys play.”

It’s the multi-dimension to Clayton’s game that’s sometimes overshadowed by teammate Marcus Wooden. Wooden is a beast on the offensive end (73g, 34a) and is perhaps the best riding attackman in the MCLA, but many of his numbers are directly attributable to Clayton’s abilities. Drawing early slides and occasional double-teams, Clayton opens up space for Wooden on the back of the crease, where he is deadly.

As far as Clayton is concerned, Wooden, or anyone else in the MCLA, can have this honor. As always, it’s not how you start the season, it’s what’s at the end. And if there are those out there that don’t agree with Clayton’s selection as LM’s Preseason Player of the Year, that’s just fine with the head coach, as well.

“The less they knew about him,” said Wood, “the better off I am.”