Legends of the Game

In the thirty-ninth edition of “Legends of the Game” we look at the career of Mike French.

From Mike’s Wikipedia page…

Michael “Mike” G. French (born May 13, 1953) was a three-time All-American lacrosse player at Cornell University from 1974 to 1976, teaming with fellow lacrosse Hall of Fame members Eamon McEneaney, Dan Mackesey, Bill Marino, Tom Marino, Bob Hendrickson, Chris Kane, and Richie Moran to lead the Cornell Big Red to the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Championship in 1976. French was co-owner, along with Russ Cline and Chris Fritz, as well as Executive Vice-President of the NLL’s Philadelphia Wings.

Cornell Big Red:

French is ranked in the top 20 all-time in NCAA Division I scoring with 296 career points, 4th in career points-per-game behind fellow Canadian Stan Cockerton, and 7th in career goals. French’s top season was 1976 when he scored 65 goals and handed out 40 assists for 105 total points in 16 games. French and McEneaney led Cornell to one of the great seasons in college lacrosse history in 1976, with an unbeaten record and a 16-13 overtime victory over Frank Urso and the University of Maryland in the NCAA Championship game. This was the first NCAA lacrosse championship to receive national exposure. With the game being decided in overtime and French scoring seven goals, Frank Gifford doing the play-by-play called the finals the most exciting sporting event he had ever seen. During French’s career at Cornell, the Big Red went to three straight NCAA tournaments, shutting out Washington and Lee 14-0 in one tournament game, and won 43 games while losing only 4.  He was named the USILA player of the year in 1976.

National Lacrosse League:

French played for the Eagle Pro Box Lacrosse League Philadelphia Wings in 1987, leading the league in goals during its inaugural season. He was named the team’s general manager in 1988, guiding the Wings to a 33-17 regular season mark and a 7-2 record in the postseason, with three championships over seven seasons. French also coached the Wings for one season in 1994, guiding them to a 6 and 2 record as well as the MILL title. He had been with the Wings since their inception in 1987 and joined the team’s ownership group prior to the start of the 1998 season.

French is currently part of the ownership group of the New England Black Wolves which took over the retired Wings franchise.

Canadian Lacrosse:

Mike began playing box lacrosse in Niagara-on-the-Lake and St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, and did not play field lacrosse until his freshman season at Cornell. French captained the Canadian National Team to the 1978 World Lacrosse Championships upset over a heavily favored U.S. National Team. The World championships have been dominated by the American team every year except 1978 and 1998. In the 1978 title game, the Canadian team rebounded from a 28-4 loss to the Americans in an early round game to beat them 17-16 in overtime for the World title.

Post playing career:

Inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1991, 
Inducted in the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2001
Inducted in the NLL Hall of Fame in 2007

French is one of only a few members of both the Canadian and US Lacrosse Halls of Fame.

Youtube video courtesy of Hugh Del Villar, found on his YouTube channel of the same name.  Mr. Del Villar gave a tremendous synopsis of the game in the following description…

1976 NCAA Championship Game…

For the first time in NCAA tournament history, two undefeated teams, No. 1 Maryland and No. 2 Cornell, would meet in the championship game. The game did not disappoint as Cornell down 7-2 at halftime, outscored Maryland 6-2 in the third period to pull within one goal entering the final period. The Terps opened the fourth period with a goal to go up 10-8, but the next four tallies belonged to the Cornell who led 12-10 with three minutes to play. Maryland, however, would get back-to-back goals, including a buzzer-beater, to knot the game and send the contest into overtime. After an initial tally by the Terps’ Terry Kimball, the Cornell would score four unanswered goals to claim the crown with a 16-13 victory. Mike French tied the then-NCAA tournament single-game scoring record, finishing the day with seven goals and four assists.

References:

•  Lacrosse: Technique and Tradition. By Bob Scott. Published by JHU Press, 2006. pg. 19. ISBN 0-8018-8371-7.

• ^“Lacrosse: a History of the Game by Peter Bailey Lund”eLacrosse.com. Archived from the original on 1999-10-08.

• ^“Michael G. French HoF Page”US Lacrosse – National Hall of Fame web site. Archived from the original on 2009-08-15.

• ^“Mike French Induction Page”Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame web site. Retrieved 2007-02-20.

• ^“NLL Inducts Second Class to Hall of Fame”NLL.com. February 16, 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-18.

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