Steven DeNapoli Retires from Professional Lacrosse On Top


Steven DeNapoli played 12 seasons of professional lacrosse and won a PLL championship in 2022. He was selected to the 2018 U.S. team before an injury sidelined him.

Steven DeNapoli, a 12-year professional lacrosse veteran, is going out on top. The defensive midfielder, and captain, who helped the Waterdogs win the 2022 Premier Lacrosse League Championship announced his retirement on Thursday.

“This was a very difficult decision, but I have decided to retire from professional lacrosse,” DeNapoli wrote in a post on the Waterdogs Instagram account. “It has not only been a tremendous honor playing at the highest level, but also a privilege to represent my family, my teammates, coaches and the PLL community. Without regret, I realize I am no longer able to provide the standard of excellence that professional lacrosse demands. I have cherished every moment competing with and against the best lacrosse players in the world and I look forward to what comes next.”

DeNapoli reached the peak of the sport when he was named to the final 23-man U.S. roster for the 2018 world championship. Unfortunately, he was unable to represent the country that summer in Israel, suffering a torn ACL in a Major League Lacrosse game about a month before the world championship began.

DeNapoli wasn’t ready to give up on his lacrosse career and returned to the field late in the inaugural season of the PLL in 2019, joining Atlas LC.  

DeNapoli first contemplated retirement after that season, but Waterdogs coach Andrew Copelan reached out to him and the team selected him in the 2020 expansion draft. DeNapoli spent the last three years with the club, which defeated Chaos 11-9 to claim the league championship. DeNapoli played in seven games this season, scoring three goals, and had a caused turnover and ground ball in the championship game victory.

In an address to the team after winning the championship, DeNapoli told his teammates how he considered retirement each of the past few years.

“And I kept coming back,” DeNapoli said, “because I wanted to win it with you guys.”

DeNapoli also won an MLL championship in 2015 with the New York Lizards and was a two-time MLL All-Star. Overall, between the MLL and PLL, he played in 121 games in his pro career and had 40 goals, 28 assists and 259 ground balls.

“There’s never a moment when DeNap isn’t playing with an edge,” said his longtime teammate Kevin Unterstein when DeNapoli came initially came back to the field in 2019. “He has played at the highest level in our sport and always plays with something to prove. That is what always separated him from everyone else on the field. As a teammate, he’s a ‘foxhole guy.’ Whether you’re right or wrong, he’s always there for you.”

Before beginning his pro career, DeNapoli went from walk-on to scholarship player at Hofstra. The Long Island native was a two-year captain and helped Hofstra reach the NCAA tournament as a senior in 2011. His passion helped him overcome the odds in his lacrosse career and that’s a word that resonated with him after the championship with the Waterdogs.

"I’ll remember this team for as long as I live just because of how truly passionate we are for one another,” DeNapoli said.


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