Bryan Neufeld’s choice of lacrosse over hockey as a teen in Niagara-on-the-Lake turned out to be a wise decision.
Neufeld, inducted into New York state’s Siena College Athletic Hall of Fame Saturday, was described at the ceremony as “the offensive catalyst for the winningest class in program history,” leading the Saints to a 48-21 overall record.
He helped guide the Saints to several championships and tournament appearances during his four years playing lacrosse, and was named the 2011-12 male Athlete of the Year.
Neufeld studied finance while at university, where he was recruited to play lacrosse after a successful stint in NOTL with the Thunderhawks.
A graduate of Virgil Public School and Niagara District Secondary School, he returned to Niagara to marry Catherine Rougoor, who he met at high school.
Neufeld played minor hockey and lacrosse growing up in NOTL, and triple A in Niagara Falls. But when he realized he had gone as far as he could on the ice, he chose to focus on lacrosse, and played for the Jr. B Thunderhawks. That helped him on his path to the U.S. university, he said.
The sport he chose was one he came to love.
“I liked the fast-paced nature of the game, the contact, and the high-scoring.”
He still does, coaching both field and box minor lacrosse in NOTL, where his family and friends are, where he comes to play pick-up hockey, and where he hopes to relocate as soon as he and his wife can find an affordable house.
“That’s our goal. We’re always looking for a way to get back.”
And it’s where his heart is.
“I still try to give back to the community, and to the game. NOTL Lacrosse did a lot for me, and I want to be involved in the minor league as much as I can.”
His drive to succeed in sports, he says, carried over to his career, and in his life choices.
The sport also taught him “values you can’t learn in a classroom — meeting others, dealing with other kids, learning what success feels like and what failure feels like.”
He believes every child should have the opportunity to play sports, he added.
“You learn things you don’t learn anywhere else.”
Neufeld was the recipient of many athletic awards and named to several N.Y. all-star teams.
He was a North-South Senior All-Star Game participant, he was the 2009 Rookie of the Year and is the only four-time First Team All-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) selection in program history. Named to the MAAC’s 35th Anniversary Spring Sports First Team, which covers three states, he is the conference’s all-time leading scorer and ranks second on Siena’s charts with 240 career points.
Neufeld led all Division I players nationally from the Class of 2012 with 156 career goals, which also stands as the second most in Siena history. He ranked in the top 10 nationally in scoring during both his junior and senior seasons, and led all Division I freshmen in goals scored (38) while ranking third in scoring (51) during his rookie campaign in 2009.