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Drew Michalek

MARIETTA -- Lacrosse attackers do not like playing against Walton defender Drew Michalek.

That is because he does not let them score.

Centennial’s Ryan Siracusa and Lambert’s Gerard Kane, two of the strongest attackers in the state, combined for just two goals when Walton played their respective teams in the Class 6A/7A state semifinals and championship.

Thanks largely to Michalek and the Raiders' defensive unit, Walton won 8-7 over defending state champion Lambert on May 18 at Kennesaw State’s Fifth Third Bank Stadium, clinching the program its second state championship.

For his stalwart defensive play this season, Michalek is the 2019 Marietta Daily Journal/Cobb County Boys Lacrosse Player of the Year.

“It’s awesome, in one word,” Michalek said of winning a state championship. “It’s my senior year, and we get to win state.”

During the regular season, Michalek shut down Milton’s leader Jack Gallagher, as well as Pope’s Matt Oswald in a critical Area 4-6A/7A victory.

How did Michalek do it?

Walton coach Griffin Spotz said his footwork is top-notch and has the ability to control the opponents’ hips. Michalek hardly loses 1-on-1 matchups and can anticipate what route opposing attackers will take in driving to the goal.

Michalek has played lacrosse since he was a fifth-grader and has always been a defensive player. His primary objective has always been to keep opposing teams from scoring.

“I like hitting people, I guess,” Micahlek said in describing his style of play. “I don’t like to let people attack me. I tend to go after them a little bit. I don’t know -- I just like to play defense and do the best that I can.”

With Michalek on the roster, Spotz said he could leave him on the field against several strong opposing players, trusting that he could keep them contained.

Spotz also noted that teams that face experienced opponents like Lambert without a player of Michalek’s caliber would likely have to play a “defensive slide,” which creates a lot of defensive rotation and leave a few gaps on the back side for the Longhorns to exploit.

Lambert’s offense had the quickness to attack the gaps, but Michalek managed to keep the Longhorns better players in check during 1-on-1 matchups.

“We are truly blessed to have him on the team -- I’ll say that,” Spotz said. “We’re going to miss not having Drew in the future. Being able to have him on the team for the last four years was a pretty special thing for me as a coach.”

A defensive back for Walton, Michalek will be moving on to play football at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, but he has not ruled playing lacrosse for the Division III college as well.

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