This past weekend, college lacrosse held its annual Final Four with the men facing off in Foxborough, MA and the women in Stony Brook, NY. Last week, Liam Banks was asked to reflect on his championship weekend experiences for Carl Danbury of the Atlanta Blaze.
Atlanta Blaze Connections Reflect on NCAA Lacrosse Championship Experiences
For Liam Banks, championship weekend has largely been a family affair. He has missed only one since 1986, traveling to the destination each year with his family no matter where it was held. As a player, he took part in four semifinal games and three championship games, and in 2000, Banks was named Most Outstanding Player after scoring six goals in the championship game against Princeton, a 13-7 Orange victory.
Syracuse’s loss to Virginia in the 1999 championship game provided the incentive for Banks’ championship season. “That was a real driver for me throughout the course of the next year to make myself a better player, to not have that feeling again of losing, and to learn from it,” Banks said. “The first loss to UVA was one that changed me as a person and a player. We came back a year later and won it.”
The additional motivation was provided by teammate Ryan Powell, who just yesterday was named a member of the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame’s Class of 2018.
“He was a big brother to me and a best friend at the same time. He taught me how to work and to go the extra yard,” Banks said. “2000 was his senior year and we lost the year before, so in particular, I knew he didn’t have another shot to do it. I wanted him to be able to leave with a national championship ring.”
For Banks, however, the 2000 championship was more meaningful because of others who had made sacrifices for him through the years.
“I won a championship for my team and my school, but if you peel the onion back further, I won that championship for my mother, my father, my five brothers, my two sisters, my aunts, my uncles, and all the people that supported me financially, emotionally, and physically throughout the years, those who had shown up at all my games,” Banks said. “That was the proudest moment for me is that the people who supported me saw me succeed at the highest level of NCAA lacrosse. To share that day with them was extremely gratifying.”
Banks and the Orange lost to Princeton in overtime in the 2001 championship game and as a senior, Syracuse was eliminated by Johns Hopkins.
In 2004, the Banks family celebrated again, this time with sister Caitlin winning the NCAA Women’s lacrosse championship with the University of Virginia. She was named to the All-Tournament Team, too, after beating Princeton, 10-4, and avenged an overtime loss to the Tigers in the final game the previous season.