Ryan Boyle Pro Lacrosse Hall of Fame

What makes Ryan Boyle one of lacrosse’s greatest minds

By Grant DelVecchio

Aug 4, 2023

Like a shadow, success has followed Ryan Boyle on every stop in his Hall of Fame career. 

Boyle is the King Midas of the lacrosse world – he guided every team he ever played for to a championship. The only question mark related to Boyle’s Hall of Fame case was which jersey he’d decide to be commemorated in. During his 11 professional seasons, Boyle piloted two different teams to MLL championships, winning four total between his time spent with the Philadelphia Barrage (04-08) and Boston Cannons (09-14). His 292 career assists are the most in the history of the game and he remains sixth all-time with 487 points.

“What I tried to always do [in my career] was have a sense for what was needed at any given time,” Boyle said. “There's so many opportunities within a game – stretches when a game can be won or lost, and you have to understand what your team needs at that moment.” 

It’s a noble aim that he continuously hit the mark on; Boyle had an uncanny knack for delivering in those deciding moments, time and time again.

As a freshman at Princeton, the moment came in the final minute of overtime in the 2001 national championship game, when Boyle dimed a cutting B.J. Prager for the game winning score to avenge the Tigers loss to Syracuse in the title game a year prior.

Ten years later, playing through torrential rain with the Boston Cannons in the 2011 MLL semifinals against the Chesapeake Bayhawks, Boyle found Max Quinzani over a double team for the game winner with 1.2 seconds on the clock to send the Cannons to the title game. The Cannons would go on to win the team’s first-ever championship, the fourth and final of Boyle’s pro career. 

He won his first three titles as the quarterback of one of the best professional teams of all-time. From 2004-2008, the Philadelphia Barrage won three championships in five seasons. Out of the 17 combined Hall of Famers between this year’s and last year’s classes, eight won a championship with the Barrage. 

Boyle’s brilliance manifested itself in his ability to make all of his teammates better. The Barrage went 1-11 the year before they drafted Boyle. A year later, Boyle was the MLL Rookie of the Year and the Barrage were MLL champions.

“He’s the single most floor-raising, impactful player that I’ve ever been around,” Matt Striebel, Boyle’s teammate with the Barrage and at Princeton and a member of the 2022 HOF class, said in a video tribute released by the league honoring Boyle as the first member of the Class of 2023. 

Boyle’s modest physical stature belied the formidable presence he commanded with the ball in his stick. Few players have had as extensive a bag of tricks to pull from as RB, and he was able to break down defenses at will.  

“There’s a famous Bruce Lee quote: ‘Be like water,’ and I think Ryan was a lot like water when he played,” Mitch Belisle, Boyle’s Cannons teammate, said with a chuckle. 

“He’d absorb a big hit, turn into liquid and be gone. He knew how to read defenders and adapt to what they were giving him.”

Such adaptability was the result of Boyle’s extensive game knowledge, which developed mainly as a byproduct of his Baltimore upbringing. That’s what makes this weekend even more special for Boyle, Homewood Field is a stone’s throw from his childhood home. Growing up, if he wasn’t playing in a game himself or watching one from the stands at one of Hopkins, Loyola, Towson or Maryland, he was at home rewatching games he’d recorded on VHS tapes.

“Most people aren't doing whiteboard sessions with their older brother and breaking down how Princeton slides on defense in fourth, fifth, sixth grade.”

“I always enjoyed the work. I loved watching film. I just loved watching lacrosse and was very fortunate to be in a time and place where there was incredible lacrosse, there was a lot of it, and I was super interested in absorbing it and taking it all in,” Boyle recalled. 

Fortunately for the sport, Boyle now imparts his vast knowledge and passion for the game to the next generation of Hall of Famers. He’s a lead analyst for ESPN’s coverage of the PLL and college lacrosse, and is also the CEO and co-founder of Trilogy Lacrosse, a leading lacrosse training organization founded in 2005. 

As much as he was able to achieve in the game of lacrosse, Boyle looks forward to having his greatest accomplishment by his side on Saturday during the induction ceremony: His three (and a half) year old daughter, Wylie.

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