Founded in 2001, the Long Island Lizards have slithered into the hearts of New York fans with their unique brand of professional lacrosse. Equal parts power and finesse, the 2001 Lizards steamrolled the competition as they brought the league’s first championship home to Long Island. This year, 15 seasons later, the Lizards brought fans to their feet again. As we still celebrate this year’s championship, we take a look back at the franchise’s storied history.
2001 Long Island LIzards
In the championship game, the Lizards beat the Baltimore Bayhawks, who would come to be their chief rival over the next 15 years. With the help of the world’s best lacrosse talent, including Casey Powell, Sal LoCascio, Paul Gait and Gary Gait, the Long Island Lizards scored 244 goals in their first season to finish with the league’s best record, 10-4. The Lizards defeated the Bayhawks in the championship game by a score of 15-11 to claim the first Steinfeld Cup.
The Lizards returned to the championship game in 2003 for the third time in three seasons. After a loss the previous year to the Bayhawks, the Lizards sought revenge. The 2003 MLL Championship Game was a closely fought contest that went into overtime. A quick goal by Kevin Lowe in the extra session clinched a second championship for Long Island.
Meet the New York Lizards
Before the 2013 MLL season, the Long Island Lizards rebranded to the New York Lizards, a name that would better reflect the team’s growing fan base in New York City, Westchester County, New Jersey and southern Connecticut.
The lizard, which draws inspiration from the original owner's Sobe water, has remained the team's mascot throughout their history.
2015 New York Lizards
After the off-season acquisition of Boston Cannons midfielder Paul Rabil, the New York Lizards took the professional lacrosse world by storm in 2015. The Lizards posted the league’s best regular season record in route to a championship matchup against the Rochester Rattlers. After trailing most of the game, the Lizards battled back to win by three goals. Greg “Beast” Gurenlian, Rob Pannell, Drew Adams and company hoisted the Steinfeld Cup for New York fans for the first time in 12 years.
Lizards Legends to Remember
In 15 years, the Lizards’ organization has retired the numbers of five players that have exemplified Long Island lacrosse.
#2 Greg Cattrano
Goalie Greg Cattrano played for the Lizards in 2005 and 2006 at the tail end of an accomplished lacrosse career. He tended goal in all five of MLL’s first championship games and won three titles. The Ward Melville High School graduate also played for Team USA and New York Saints of the National Lacrosse League.
#9 Tim Goettlemann
Tim Goettlemann, who played for the Lizards for 11 seasons, finished his career as the MLL all-time goal scorer. Goettlemann, a Manhasset native, propelled the Lizards to two championships in 2001 and 2003. He was a two-time recipient of the MLL New Balance Sportsman of the Year Award. He played in 132 games and scored 268 goals in his career.
#10 Jay Jalbert
Jay Jalbert, who played for the Long Island Lizards from 2003 to 2006, quickly made an impact. He scored 32 goals, scooped 105 groundballs and was named the Bud Light MVP all in his first season. Jalbert, a midfielder from Huntington, played both sides of the ball. He held team records for penalty minutes and all-time points.
#29 Pat McCabe
From the Lizards first game until 2006, Pat McCabe’s defensive skills shut down offenses across MLL. In 2003, McCabe defensive unit allowed just 155 points. In his career, he played 72 games for the Lizards and won two titles. A member of the US Lacrosse Hall of Fame, McCabe won three national championships at Syracuse.
Which New York Lizards player’s number do you think should be retired next?