Only Oren Lyons could be named the NCAA’s Lacrosse Man of the Year 31 years after playing his last game as a Syracuse goalkeeper.
But the legend of Lyons began when he was just 15 years old playing for the Onondaga
men’s lacrosse team, scrimmaging Syracuse. SU lacrosse coach Roy Simmons took notice, and gave him the keys to the crease.
As the Syracuse keeper, Lyons accrued a career record of 24-8. None of those eight losses came in 1957 when the Onondaga reservation native anchored the Orange to a national championship, along with Jim Brown. Lyons was selected to the All-American Third Team that season and in 1958. He was inducted into the United States Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1993.
But Lyons is best known for defending much more than just the SU goal. He served as an activist for the Onondaga Nation, protecting Turtle Clan values and traditions. Lyons later addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations to open the International Year of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.
None of his work as an activist supports his claim to be high on this list, but evaluating Lyons solely as a lacrosse player is an incomplete assessment. That being said, Lyons’ role in ending SU’s 32 year national title drought makes him worthy of a high ranking.