Waterdogs LC captain Steve DeNapoli announces retirement

By Sarah Griffin

Jan 19, 2023

After 12 years of professional lacrosse, Waterdogs short-stick defensive midfielder and captain Steve DeNapoli has announced his retirement. 

Drafted in the fifth round of the 2011 MLL Draft by the Chesapeake Bayhawks, DeNapoli spent a majority of his professional career with the New York Lizards from 2014 to 2018. An All-Star in 2013 and 2014, his dominant defensive play helped lead the Lizards to the 2015 MLL Championship. He played in all 14 games for the Lizards that year, with 38 groundballs, 6 goals, and a career-high 7 assists.

The Long Island native joined Atlas LC in the PLL’s inaugural season. After one season with the Bulls, he was picked up by Waterdogs head coach Andy Copelan in the 2020 Expansion Draft. The team named the veteran SSDM captain of the new club.

I love DeNap,” said Copelan. “He's a fearless competitor, an unbelievable teammate, and has an old school toughness to him.  He's a leader without trying to be a leader; it just comes natural.”

A gritty leader who embodies the hard-nosed mentality required of SSDMs, DeNapoli was the heartbeat of the Waterdogs. His play between the arcs helped the Waterdogs become the club that Copelan envisioned building in January 2020. Of course, after three seasons, his final game was without a doubt the most special. 

"DeNapoli's known for his relentless and gritty play," said Rachael DeCecco, Director of Lacrosse Product for the PLL. "He fought back from an early season injury and helped lead his team to its first-ever PLL Championship. It's a fitting ending for the leader and engine of the Waterdogs."

“To watch him overcome the injuries he's had and cap off his playing career by captaining the Waterdogs to a championship is one of the most rewarding things I've seen as a coach,” Copelan remarked.

DeNapoli released the following statement:

This was a very difficult decision, but I have decided to retire from professional lacrosse. 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.

Reflecting on the past (12) years has reminded me of the many people I owe sincere gratitude to. My family for supporting me at every turn, teammates that I have formed lifelong bonds with, coaches that provided me with endless opportunities, the staff at the PLL for being true professionals and to all the fans for the unwavering support.

Never in my wildest dreams would I think I would get to play at this level and for this long. I am forever grateful for the memories, relationships and the opportunity to compete. Thank you to everyone who has been part of this journey.

(Water)Dog til I die…

 - Steve DeNapoli

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