By Lena Welch | 8/9/13 3:30 PM
The Nationals have been a hot-and-cold franchise ever since their introduction to the League in 2009. This year, Hamilton jumped out to a club-best 5-0 start and has tied the most wins in organization history with nine.
One player who has been there the whole time for the Nationals is Joe Walters. He was a part of their 2009 Championship team and the 2008 Rochester Championship team, earning the Championship Game MVP. Now, Walters is leading Hamilton to its third playoff berth in five years.
Walters has grown over his MLL career, from the dynamo at the University of Maryland to the veteran force behind the Hamilton offense. As a Hamilton captain, Walters solidifies the offense that has asserted itself as one of the best in the League.
This year, Walters is the generator for the Nationals. His 24 assists are not only the most for Hamilton, but they also lead the League. The Nationals’ offense runs through Walters. He can set up a teammate or create his own shot just as easily. While Hamilton leads the League with assists on 63.5 percent of its goals, Walters has only been assisted on four of his 20 goals this season, proving that he is the driving force behind the powerful offense.
Success is not new to Walters; he owns almost every offensive team record for the Nationals. He is the leader in all-time points, goals and assists, and is tied for the most two-point goals for the franchise.
“I think my game’s changed over the years,” Walters said in a recent Google + Hangout. “If you look back in ’08 and ’09 when we won those championships with the Rattlers and the Nationals, I dodged. I was trying to get to the net more, and now my game’s kind of evolved where I’m really trying to feed off to my teammates. We have so many great players off-ball, that my goal is just to try to be unselfish and find those guys for a layup.”
In fact, Walters’s teammates have been a big factor in his success this season. Hamilton began 2-0 without Walters on the field, allowing players like Kevin Crowley and Kevin Cunningham to see where they fit in and step into their roles for the Nationals. Since Walters’s return, he has capitalized on the improvements of his teammates.
Additionally, his consistency has been overshadowed by Crowley’s 28-game point streak, but Walters is in a 26-game point streak of his own. Although this hasn’t been a career year for Walters, he hasn’t needed it. As a real team player, he has been there to make sure that his team is successful without concern for his own numbers.
Be sure to follow Walters and the Nationals as they head to Championship Weekend presented by Smartlink. Find more information and get your tickets to this fantastic event by visiting Major League Lacrosse’s Championship Weekend page.