Home Lacrosse News 2018 LaxRecords Player of the Year: Nicky Solomon

2018 LaxRecords Player of the Year: Nicky Solomon

by Mike Loveday
Nicky Solmon earned 2018 LaxRecords Player of the Year. Photo by Mike Loveday
Nicky Solmon earned 2018 LaxRecords Player of the Year. Photo by Mike Loveday

Nicky Solomon is searching for a lacrosse ball. That is something that was never a challenge for him in high school. But as he walks around the University of North Carolina campus the week before he plays in the Under All-America game, he is on the phone and looking for something to get him out of his dorm room.

The former Centennial (Ga.) star finds a spot in Kenan Memorial Stadium and reflects upon a high school career that wrapped up with him as the nation’s second all-time leading scorer, Georgia’s all-time scoring and assist leader in addition to a slew of other honors, including LaxRecords’ 2018 Player of the Year.

Solomon has searched for his own path even before he set foot on the field at Centennial. Head Coach Bryan Wallace helped set up visits to Ohio State, UNC and Syracuse before Solomon’s freshman year. After Ohio State, they visited UNC, and it was after that Solomon made his choice.

“That’s just Nicky. He knows what he wants,” Wallace said.

Like more than a few players in the 2018 class, they knew where they were playing in college before they set foot on a high school lacrosse field.

“I was hoping the hype was as good as he was going to be,” Wallace said. “The fact that he committed before he ever played a game for us in high school worried me.”

But Solomon quickly put the worries to rest.

He scored 133 points as a freshman, dishing out 74 assists in the process. That freshman season was the only one he played with his older brother Nate, who finished that 2015 season as Georgia’s all-time leading scorer.

“I love playing with Nate because at the time, he would get the better pole and I would get the second pole, and then they would switch,” Solomon said. “And then we would just dominate the matchups because they would switch their best pole every other goal. It was just fun creating opportunities.”

“He came in with zero pressure,” Wallace said. “By the time he finished up, I think there was some internal competition. But he never wanted anything more than he worked for and he worked his tail off. He enjoys the opportunity to play high school lacrosse and play at a high level.”

Nicky Solomon from Centennial was MVP of the 2018 Under Armour All-American senior game. Photo by Mike Loveday
Nicky Solomon from Centennial was MVP of the Under Armour All-American senior game. Photo by Mike Loveday

Leadership

He proved there would be no sophomore slump after scoring 159 points with 85 assists. His point total increased every season, until he finished his career with 651 career points, placing him 2nd all-time behind only Zed Williams’ 729.

“I had to take on more of the leadership role and more of a quarterback [after his freshman season],” Solomon said. “I would say I had to mature and be the go-to guy.”

“Early on he wasn’t a great leader, but by the time he grew up and became a senior, he was a great leader,” Wallace said.

Fun

How does a kid from Georgia become one of the greatest offensive players in boys’ lacrosse history, passing all of the Powells, Ben Reeves, Michael Sowers, among others?

Fun.

Solomon grew up playing soccer but switched to lacrosse early-on. That switch proved fruitful as he developed.

“My high school career is probably the most fun four years I’ve had playing a sport,” Solomon said. “I loved playing with all my good friends and people that care about the game.”

“It’s fun when you win. We tried to be put the fun back in fundamentals,” Wallace said. “It’s a very fun group of guys. Everybody brought something to the table. Nicky was having a lot of fun because he just loves playing the game of lacrosse.”

That love of the game that made it fun helped Solomon become Georgia’s all-time leading scorer - taking over the title from Nathan Solomon. He is 2nd all-time for career assists. The list of most points in a game for Georgia is a good nutshell for how Solomon’s career went - posting 18 games of at least 10 points.

Solomon is quick to credit his teammates for helping him reach those totals.

Nicky Solmon celebrates his 600th career point with Centennial (Ga.) head coach Bryan Wallace.
Nicky Solmon celebrates his 600th career point
with Centennial (Ga.) head coach Bryan Wallace.

I Was Open!

Solomon was part of a trio of players that includes Colin Hall (324) and Ryan Siracusa (314) that finished 2018 with at least 300 career points. That appears to be the first time in history that three players with that many points have been on the same roster at the same time.

“We worked so well together. I’ve been playing with Colin since I was probably 8-years old. He just knows where to be and where to go,” Solomon said. “It’s just how our offense usually works. I would dodge, I was double-teamed, and both of them would be open. And that’s how it kept going for a couple years.”

With so many prolific scorers, was there any ego between the three players?

“Every goal, Colin Hall would come over to me - he goes, ‘seriously, I was open.’ We were always joking around. Ryan would be, ‘wow, you really had to do that to them?’ We sounded like the funniest kids. We had fun on the field and off the field.”

“They had a really great connection and an innate sense of what’s going on. There’s a comfort level between those guys,” Wallace said. “They entrusted each other and wanted to make each other better.”

Nicky Solomon earned MVP honors at the 2018 Under Armour All-America game. Photo by: Mike Loveday
Nicky Solomon earned MVP honors at the 2018 Under Armour All-America game. Photo by: Mike Loveday

What An Ending

The icing on Solomon's career was playing in the Under Armour All-America game at Johns Hopkins. That game marks the last time a player gets to play in what is considered a high school game - albeit with the best 44 players in the nation.

With the spotlight on, Solomon shined. He scored four goals to help the South to a 22-15 win over the North and earned MVP honors.

“He’s a relentless worker. He prides himself on being really good at things.,” Wallace said. “Whatever he was going to do, he was going to win. He understands what it takes to be an elite-level player or a student-athlete. He’s really humble and really hungry.”

The Kicker

Editor's Note: I had much more that I could have included in the story, but I have to cut myself off somewhere. This bit of bonus content did not have a home in the main story, but I thought it's worth sharing.

It is fitting that Solomon is sitting in the football stadium in Chapel Hill. He is on campus before the start of fall classes to take part in football practice.

As fortune has it, growing up kicking a soccer ball helped when Solomon decided to be Centennial’s kicker during his senior year of high school.

While it was something he decided to do on a whim to kill the boredom of fall, Solomon excelled.

He played in 12 games and converted 57-of-58 extra points and kicked 12 field goals. His longest field goal on the season was a 48-yarder.

Before he knew it, Solomon had five offers to play football. But UNC was always the choice. And as happens, UNC was watching.

“My UNC lacrosse coach thought it would be cool for me to play two sports in college,” Solomon said. “I was emailing with the UNC coach, and he said he had me a spot on the team already because he saw my highlights.”

Solomon has a preferred walk-on role with the Atlantic Coast Conference program. There are four place-kickers listed on the Tarheel’s roster with two of them seniors.

At least to one coach, the whim of football could yield a windfall.

“We talked about it before he went out for the team,” Wallace said. “I was a little bit nervous, but we went out, and his first kick was a 60-yarder. After a few more I realized he was legit - that he could do it. If he goes out there and does what he does - let’s put it this way - I wouldn’t be surprised to see him kicking in the NFL and playing for 12 years.”

2018 All-LaxRecords Teams

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