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Former LI football stars Dalton Crossan, Connor Farrell turn to pro lacrosse

Dalton Crossan.

Dalton Crossan. Credit: Raymond Nelson

Dalton Crossan turned the page on lacrosse after graduating from Sachem North in 2012, setting out on a quest to play college football and maybe reach the NFL. Connor Farrell turned the page on lacrosse long before graduating from Sachem East in 2015, but he too heard the siren call of the gridiron and followed it.

"But just because you turn the page on something doesn’t mean you can’t go back and read it again," Crossan said. "I turned the page on lacrosse, but I never closed the book."

Crossan and Farrell again are finding lacrosse as a centerpiece in their lives. Both will play this season in the Premier Lacrosse League, now the top professional league since merging with Major League Lacrosse last year.

Farrell, 23, will be in his third season with Chrome LC as a faceoff specialist. After stints with the Indianapolis Colts, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the CFL Ottawa Redblacks, Crossan, 26, will make his professional debut as a midfielder with Chaos LC.

"There were lacrosse coaches interested in recruiting me, but I just didn’t love lacrosse in high school," said Farrell, who was a middle linebacker at LIU-Post. "Then, when I ended up playing again in college, I fell in love with the sport. I’m playing in the [PLL] and having the time of my life."

Crossan was ushered back to lacrosse last year through the pain of rehabilitation. Farrell, on the other hand, got back into it by losing a bet.

"Two of my best friends played lacrosse for Post — P.J. Usak and Frank Ranfone — and they felt the team needed a faceoff guy and wanted me to play. I wasn’t interested," the 240-pound Farrell said. "I told them if they could last more than 10 seconds wrestling me, I’d come out for the team."

On a cowskin rug in the dorm room the lacrosse players shared, Usak went more than 10 seconds. Farrell was at practice the next day.

Crossan eschewed lacrosse scholarship offers from Notre Dame and Michigan in favor of playing football for New Hampshire, where he was a running back and kick returner. Though the former Hansen Award winner was not chosen in the 2017 NFL Draft, he was offered a contract by the Colts before that night was over.

He got into one preseason game with the Colts and played well, but he tore his groin and didn’t heal fast enough to make it back off injured reserve. He signed with the Bucs in 2018 and lost the season to a hamstring injury in camp. Then he played the 2019 season with Ottawa in the CFL "because the NFL teams hadn’t seen me play in two years," he said.

He got into two preseason games before aggravating the groin injury.

"I just ended up in that cycle of injury, pain and rehab, and it was frustrating," Crossan said. "You think you’re going to make the team, and with the snap of your fingers, it goes away . . . I decided to retire from football."

Farrell was a two-sport athlete at LIU-Post. He was a starting middle linebacker and became exceptional in faceoffs on the lacrosse field. In his final season, he won 81% of them. When the Premier League held its first draft, he was one of 24 picked.

He even turned his unique talent into a cottage industry. He runs "Farrell’s Faceoff Training," helping players of ages 8-22 hone the craft.

Crossan took a position at Hotaling Insurance Services, mitigating financial risk for high-net worth individuals. But something else happened as he changed careers.

"I got away from football and my body started to feel great again," he said.

Encouraged by friends and still longing for a competitive atmosphere, Crossan said, "I decided to give lacrosse a real shot. I miss the physicality of competitive sports."

He’ll get that shot when the season begins June 4.

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