Millon lives up to MVP billing U.S. team's top scorer leads way vs. Canada for World lacrosse title

July 24, 1998|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

The ball rolls sleekly along the edge of Mark Millon's lacrosse stick in a recent Warrior Lacrosse television ad. In a flashy maneuver, Millon then dribbles the ball off the stick's bottom half.

But here's a little secret: It took Millon nine hours to complete the 30-second ad.

Now witness Millon on the field, where the U.S. national team's top attackman needs no extra takes. It's one step and he's gone, zipping past defenders for another open shot.

"He's probably one of the few guys I've seen who is quick and fast," U.S. coach Bill Tierney said. "He really puts you on your heels as he's running on you and then he can change direction, turning on a dime."

Millon will be a star in front of the cameras once again tonight as he headlines the U.S. team against Canada in the World Games title game before an anticipated sellout crowd at Homewood Field.

The 1994 World Games Most Valuable Player, Millon once again leads the United States in scoring with 16 goals and five assists, contributing at least two goals in all five U.S. games.

And despite producing less than his 1994 total of 44 points, Millon could become the first player in the 31-year history of the World Games to earn MVP twice. What Millon has failed to match in statistics, he has surpassed in intangibles.

Offsetting a combination of being just one of two returning attackmen from four years ago along with two-time Division I Player of the Year Casey Powell injured, he has paced a young unit to an average of 17.4 goals per game, accounting for 25 percent of the team's total points.

"I definitely feel like I have played more of a pivotal role this year," said Millon, 27, the second all-time goal scorer in Massachusetts history who plays club lacrosse for Mount Washington. "I still had to do my job of dodging and scoring. But at the same time, I have had to try and keep guys under control on the field and be a leader that way."

The opposing nations have attempted to control Millon with little results, throwing numerous double teams at the attackman.

"It's a little different than '94 where I kind of came out of nowhere. Now more teams are focused on trying to stop me," Millon said. "Because of that, the beating I've been taking is a little greater than '94 as well."

Yet Millon picks his times.

With the United States holding a one-goal, fourth-quarter edge in its World Games debut against Australia, Millon scored or assisted on three of his team's final four goals. A day later in the midst of a tie game against England, he powered in four second-half goals to propel the Americans.

"Mark's our leader," U.S. attackman Darren Lowe said. "He's been the glue. When we need a goal, it's not a surprise that we look to Mark.

"He's explosive with the ball and I think sometimes overlooked how explosive he is off the ball. He makes goals that look real easy, but other guys just can't do."

Millon prides himself on being a pure dodger, a player who can single-handedly exploit defenses.

The U.S. team allows Millon to spotlight these talents, calling for clear-outs to isolate Millon one-on-one with his defender. But when defenses shut off all angles entirely, watch Millon launch his 5-foot-8, 175-pound frame across the crease.

"Confidence is a huge thing in any sport. If you don't feel you're not going to get the job done, you're not going to get the job done," Millon said. "People might construe it as cockiness or whatever. I just have a lot of confidence. And when I get the ball in my stick, I feel like I can make something good happen every time."

U.S. tonight

What: World Games championship game

Opponent: Canada (4-1)

When: 8

Where: Homewood Field, Johns Hopkins

Series: U.S. leads 10-1

Canada vs. U.S. in title game: 1-2

Last meeting: U.S. won, 14-12, on Monday in a round-robin game.

Tickets: About 1,000 remain and can be purchased at the Homewood Field box office beginning at 10 a.m.

The Millon attack

A game-by-game look at U.S. attackman Mark Millon:

Day, Opponent ..... G ... A ... Pts

7/17 Australia .... 4 ... 1 ... 5

7/18 England ...... 4 ... 0 ... 4

7/19 Iroquois ..... 3 ... 0 ... 3

7/20 Canada ....... 2 ... 1 ... 3

7/22 Iroquois-x ... 3 ... 3 ... 6

Totals ............ 16 .. 5 ... 21

x -- World Games semifinal

Pub Date: 7/24/98

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