There is no comparison in Syracuse history to the Powell brothers. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find many families across any collegiate athletic programs that equal what Casey, Ryan and Mike accomplished at SU. It wasn’t just the rarity of three brothers all playing for the same school. It was the dominance, excellence, and legacy each left behind.
Casey Powell was the first to the Hill, and immediately became one of the greatest lacrosse players ever. He won the ’95 National Title, was named the country’s Most Outstanding Player twice, and carried the legend of the Gaits by wearing #22. Ryan came next, also delivering a championship in ’00, and was named the National Player of the Year.
All along the way there were whispers around Central New York. “Watch out, the youngest is going to the best.” The insane expectations on Mike were placed on him at the earliest age. Growing up about an hour north of Syracuse in West Carthage the exploits of Mikey were the stuff of lore. He set the New York State high school records for most points in a season with 194 in ’00, most points in a game with 15 points, and most assists in a season with 120 in ’99. He was one of the most anticipated recruits in school history, for any sport.
Mike Powell did not disappoint. Like LeBron James being called the “Chosen One” and living up to even the highest expectations, Mike delivered. He wore #22 just like his brothers. He paid immediate dividends on the field. As a freshman he tallied an insane 70 points, became the first player in Syracuse history to be named a First Team All-American as a freshman. He won the Jack Turnbull Award as the nation’s top attackman, and was a finalist for the inaugural Tewaaraton. He was just getting started.
As a freshman he helped lead SU to the national title game against Princeton, even scoring with 16 seconds left to force OT. His sophomore season was somehow better, leading SU to the promised land. The Orange won the national championship behind his four goals and three assists in the game. He was named the NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player and won his first Tewaaraton Trophy.
In all four years of Mike Powell’s career, the Orange made the Final Four (something that used to be taken for granted on the Hill). By his senior season, he did it again. The Orange won a second championship with him as the focal point, as he racked up scored 89 points (47 goals, 42 assists). It set the school record for all-time leading scorer, surpassing (you guessed it) his two older brothers. Powell was again selected as a First Team All-American, won his second Tewaaraton Trophy, and his first Enners Trophy as the most outstanding player in men’s lax. He had done it all.
Mikey took outrageous expectations and somehow surpassed them, with two Tewaartons (lacrosse’s Heisman) and two national championships. There will never be another family like the Powells, and there will never be another Mikey Powell.