By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
It’s quite an accomplishment to play an NCAA Division I sport.
When a family has three siblings go on to play the same Division I sport at three separate prestigious powerhouse programs, like the Shakespeares of Walpole have, it is a particularly remarkable accomplishment.
Athletics were always a big part of the Shakespeare family, specifically hockey and lacrosse. Growing up, the three sons, Matthew, Michael and Sean, all excelled on the ice for Walpole youth lacrosse and KP/Walpole youth hockey.
The oldest son, Matthew, graduated from Walpole High School in 2006, where he lettered in lacrosse all four years, football three times, hockey twice, and track. Matt served as team captain in 2006, was a three-time Bay State Conference All-Star, and still holds the program record for points in a single game (10).
Matt went on to play lacrosse at Brown University and graduated in 2010. Shakespeare helped the Bears to a share of the Ivy League title in both 2008 and 2010. Amazingly, both Ivy League-winning teams missed out on the NCAA Tournament, despite the 2008 team going 11-3 (5-1), a season in which Shakespeare started three of 12 games, picked up five ground balls and added an assist. In 2009, Brown finished 12-4 (4-2) and third in the Ivy League. The Bears fell to Johns Hopkins, 12-11, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. As a senior in 2010, Shakespeare appeared in 10 games, starting in one as he recorded one goal and one assist. Brown finished the year 8-6 (4-2). Matt now works in institutional sales at Columbia Threadneedle Investments.
The middle Shakespeare brother, Michael, attended The Governor’s Academy, where he emerged as the No. 13 overall recruit by Inside Lacrosse for the class of 2008. Mike totaled 166 goals, 60 assists and 414 ground balls during career at Governor’s, including 57 goals (school record), 13 assists and 104 ground balls as a senior. Mike Shakespeare also holds school midfielder records for single-season points (75), single-game goals (9) and single-game points (11). Michael was a three-time All-ISL selection and was named 2008 ISL League MVP.
Michael Shakespeare went on to earn a scholarship and played for the University of Maryland. The Terrapins qualified for the NCAA Tournament in all of the four years Shakespeare played there, also winning the ACC his junior year in 2011. As a sophomore in 2010, Mike recorded five goals and recorded eight ground balls. The following year, Shakespeare was forced to deal with significant adversity, battling Lyme disease and missing the majority of offseason training and 2010 fall-ball leading into Maryland’s 2011 ACC championship season. Still, Shakespeare was able to record a goal, an assist, 18 ground balls and a career-best six caused turnovers in 2011 as Maryland won its way to the national championship game. The Terrapins fell, 9-7, to rival Virginia in Baltimore.
Maryland head coach Jon Tillman took notice of Shakespeare’s resilience and rewarded the Walpole native with more playing time during his senior season in 2012. Michael absolutely lit it up and put together a career year: 18 goals, two assists and 19 ground balls. Maryland won its way to the program’s second consecutive national championship game, this time right down the road from where Shakespeare grew up at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. Unfortunately, the Terps fell, 9-3, to Loyola (Maryland), whose offense featured two Walpole-native lacrosse purebreds in Peter Bowes and Davis Butts.
Michael now works as the assistant vice president of Colliers-International in Boston.
When Michael Shakespeare played his final collegiate game in 2012 at Gillette Stadium, his entire family, including his younger brother, Sean, were there in attendance. Sean had just finished up his freshman year at Yale. In high school, Sean was a four-time All-ISL selection as an attack-man/midfielder. Sean started five seasons for Noble and Greenough varsity lacrosse, and was twice named an Under Armor All-American. Sean finished his high school career second on Nobles’ all-time scoring list.
As a sophomore in 2013, Sean appeared in all of Yale’s 17 games, scoring five goals and recording five assists as the Elis finished 12-5 (4-2). The Bulldogs took out No. 8 Penn State, 10-7, in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to top-seeded Syracuse (7-6) in the quarterfinals.
In 2014, Shakespeare scored a career-best 11 goals and added three helpers in 14 games played. Yale finished the year 9-5 (3-3), but missed the NCAA Tournament. As a senior in 2015, Sean saw time on the man-up unit and scored eight goals to go along with three assists. Yale finished the year 11-5 (3-3). Sean’s final collegiate game was a heartbreaking 8-7 defeat to eventual national runners-up Maryland in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
Sean now works as an investment banking associate at Barclays Capital in New York City.
Between the three Shakespeare brothers, there are 10 high school all-conference selections and nearly 600 career points (goals and assists). That, by itself, is absolutely incredible - never mind the eight NCAA Tournament appearances these three made at Yale, Maryland and Brown.
It’s safe to say the brothers Shakespeare have left their mark on the lacrosse world.
For funny and incisive sports analysis as well as game highlights, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram @flano0.