Thrilling Indian country, professional lacrosse fans and his own Onondaga Nation, Lyle Thompson was named the 2017 National Lacrosse League Most Valuable Player on June 28. After a season in which he scored 116 points, Thompson is the first Georgia Swarm player to earn the title.
“It’s an honor to be here playing in this league. It’s given me a lot of opportunities to help me grow as a person.” Thompson said in a Swarm release. “I’ve been grateful enough to come down here, step right in and play and be a part with people that have helped me become not just a great player but a better person… I’ve never been apart of a team like this one. Every single guy has helped in a different way, and we’re all fighting to achieve the same goal.”
In the championship game against Saskatchewan, Lyle’s brother Miles set up the winning goal during the sudden death overtime match with an underhanded, one-armed pass. The goal clinched the win 15-14 and the Champions Cup for the Georgia Swarm.
Other nominees for the 2017 MVP were Mark Matthews (Saskatchewan) and Corey Small (Vancouver).
“What I thought really differentiated him from other players in the league—winning the scoring title obviously takes a whole lot of talent, but the things he did when he didn’t have the ball, the battling for loose balls, the pressing up the floor, the going back to play defense, those are the things that were not only a big part of our success but woven into the fabric of what Lyle Thompson is.” Swarm Coach Ed Comeau said.
“He’s a complete player. He’s not an offensive player, he’s not a defensive player, he’s not a transition player. Lyle is a complete player, and I’m glad that others around the league saw what we saw.”
Lyle’s athleticism yielded 126 loose balls, 15 turnovers, and 21-44 in face-offs this season, helping to give the Georgia Swarm its 13-5 record, and the number one seed in the divisional playoffs against Rochester Knighthawks.
The 24-year-old averaged 2.5 goals and 3.9 assists per game and completed the regular season with a .194 shooting percentage. Lyle also brought in 37 power play points, three shorthand goals, and had four games of 10 or more points.
“I’m thankful for the opportunity [Swarm Owner and General Manager] John Arlotta has given me,” Thompson said in the release, “the coaching staff who’ve helped me build my confidence, putting the ball in my stick, not putting me down or anything like that… My teammates who’ve helped me on and off the field, we’ve built chemistry this year…Last, but not least, my brothers who push me everyday to become a better player, a better person.”
Lyle and his brothers Jeremy, Jerome and Miles, have made headlines throughout their lacrosse careers. Lyle and Miles are recipients of The Tewaaraton Award; the brothers are Nike-sponsored, play internationally for the Iroquois Nationals, own a successful lacrosse organization Thompson Brothers Lacrosse, and have set a Guinness World Record for most siblings to play in a professional lacrosse game during the 2017 Swarm season opener.