Major League Lacrosse, the premier professional outdoor lacrosse league, has named former Maryland All-American Lee Zink of the Denver Outlaws, the 2013 Defensive Player of the Year, as voted by MLL coaches and general managers.
"It's such an honor to be named Defensive Player of the Year," said Zink. "This has been a really special season with a great team. I think everything has really come together to lead to the success we've had on the field so far. I'm really excited for this weekend to try to win a championship."
Zink, who won the Schmeisser Memorial Cup as the nation’s top defenseman as a senior at Maryland in 2004, earned all 16 possible first place votes, becoming the only player to win an end of the year award by a unanimous decision this season. Brodie Merrill of the Hamilton Nationals and Mike Evans of the Chesapeake Bayhawks trailed with five second place votes each and four and two third place votes respectively.
"It's pretty unbelievable," Zink continued when told about the unanimous vote. "A special thanks to all the coaches and GMs. It's a great honor."
"There are not enough superlatives to describe Zink," said Outlaws head coach Jim Stagnitta. "He's discreet, unassuming, not flashy, but when you look at the numbers his matchups put up against him you know he's able to neutralize the best players in the world. He's a consummate professional who juggles work, graduate school and lacrosse and I've never been around a defender who does what he does."
Zink picked up the award for the second time in as many seasons, becoming the second player to ever garnish Defensive Player of the Year in consecutive seasons. The Denver defenseman remains only the sixth player to win the award in MLL's 13-year history. A 10-year MLL veteran, Zink led the Outlaws to a perfect 14-0 record, the first undefeated regular season in League history, and Denver's second consecutive regular season title. Zink started in all 14 games on the back line, recording 21 groundballs, including a season-high four groundballs on two occasions.
"Lee Zink has done an incredible job this season," said MLL Commissioner David Gross. "He has consistently shut down his mark, helping the Outlaws to their undefeated season and was well deserving of being voted on unanimously."
Zink was chosen as the fifth overall pick in the 2004 draft. Since his professional debut, Zink has cemented himself as one of the best shut down defenders in the League. Twice this season he has been awarded Defensive Player of the Week after shutting down the opposing team's leading scorer. The captain anchored a strong defensive unit which led the League in fewest goals against per game; fewest shots per game, as well as the best penalty kill record.
Zink, along with fellow Outlaw teammates and former Maryland players Jeremy Sieverts and Drew Snider, will continue his play this Saturday at Championship Weekend, presented by Smartlink, as Denver looks to complete a perfect season.