Playing with his older brother, Ryan Powell didn’t have to carry the load offensively and often deferred to Casey when the two played together for the Rochester Rattlers.
But when Major League Lacrosse expanded to the West Coast this summer, Ryan Powell saw it as his opportunity to flourish on his own with the San Francisco Dragons.
Not that his accomplishments were shabby.
The 2001 MLL Most Valuable Player is tied with Boston’s Connor Gil for the league lead in points with 57, despite missing two games due to his commitment to Team USA. Powell, in his sixth season, is third in career points with 291.
"I’ve really had the opportunity to control the ball here, to quarterback the offense," Powell said. "I just try to go out and play my game, get some shots on goal, and get other guys involved in the offense."
The Dragons, who have lost three of their last four games, will need Powell and everyone else to be involved in the offense in order to make the playoffs. Entering Saturday’s 1 p.m. regular-season finale, the Dragons
(6-5) need to beat the Chicago Machine (0-11), a fellow expansion team, and hope the Western Conference-leading Denver Outlaws (9-2) beat the Los Angeles Riptide (6-5). Denver has already clinched one of the four playoff berths.
Along with his brothers — Casey and the younger Mike — Powell was part of the sport’s most famous and revered family. After a celebrated high school career in West Carthage, N.Y., Powell led powerhouse Syracuse to two national championships from 1997-2000, tying Casey atop the school’s all-time scoring mark (Mike has since replaced them as the leading scorer).
"It’s great to be out here on a new squad," said Powell, who got the chance to play with both brothers for the first time competitively at the World Championships. "Coach [Brian] Silcott is a great coach and a good friend and he knows my style real well. He puts the ball in my stick and lets me play my game and it’s really opened things up for me."
Despite an almost larger-than-life status in the lacrosse world, Powell remains humble.
"I’m from a small town and lacrosse is all I’ve ever really known," he said. "I still coach about 15,000 kids each year in clinics and really try to stay involved with the sport as much as I can. I don’t think I’m some hot shot who is above the game. I’ll always give as much back as I can to lacrosse."
NOTE: The Dragons will be holding a food drive at Saturday’s game, in cooperation with the San Francisco Food Bank and the Hamilton Family Center. Anyone donating non-perishable food or toiletries can buy a general admission ticket for $10.