Inside Lacrosse has once again dropped the Laxies on us, where they nominate the best places, players, games and teams. The awards span the high school, college and pro ranks and cover both men’s and women’s lax (although the majority of the awards are strictly for the guys).
I’ll go through the awards and give you my personal choices as well as the picks I think will actually win. Of course I’ll undoubtedly disagree with what the public picks but being wrong is what opinion is all about, right? RIGHT? Feel free to tear my picks apart (although I warn you, I usually don’t shy away from an argument!) in the comments and offer your own. Also make sure you go to IL and check out the awards and picking contest for yourself!
IL Player of the year:
I am going with Brodie Merrill on this one. Transition player (NLL) of the year and Dman of the year (MLL) is pretty good. When you combine that with an MLL Championship AND at least a run to the Mann Cup Finals, you have an individual star AND team winner. I am not really going out on a limb with my prediction though as it will undoubtedly be Paul Rabil. Kids love him, he was the MLL MVP and really made an impact in the NLL. South of Canada, field lax rules. I like these two over Seibald, Greer, Nims or Nielsen.
D1 Player of the year:
My pick is Ned Crotty. Athletic, excellent field vision, can do it all offensively and is a real leader on the field. Duke owed a lot of its success to Crotty filling the void on O, especially when you consider that Greer and Danowski had both left. My prediction for who will win is Max Seibald. Fast, tough, skilled and the consummate leader, his game and personality really resonate with younger players and I think he could run away with this one.
D2 Player of the year:
I have a hard time seeing how anyone could pick anyone other than Cerar from Post. Dropped 86 points, including 4 goals in the second half of the Championship game. Post was loaded with talent including their FoGo and Goalie but to the scorer goes the glory. or something like that. Cerar is both my pick and my prediction.
D3 Player of the year:
Kazimer and Berkman are nasty players. Kehoe throws junk and can change a game as a LSM and Stone had the capacity to take a mediocre Middlebury team (well mediocre for them anyway) to the Semis of the Div 3 tourney but Joey Morgan was something else. He played on a deep and talented Cortland team that won the National Championship but led the team with his actions on the field. He played hard and did the right thing and made sure everyone else did too while keeping it a little loose… just loose enough to win it all. My prediction for who wins is going with Berkman. He was the biggest name in D3 lax for the past 3 years and was a multiple PoY winner either overall or for his midfield position. Between Stone, Berkman and Morgan you can’t really go wrong.
D1 Women’s Player of the year:
I don’t think anyone can pick any player other than Hannah Nielsen of Northwestern. She is a two-time Tewaaraton winner AND is part of a Northwestern dynasty that has now won FIVE National Championships consecutively. Her 6 points a game don’t hurt either. Throw in starring for 2nd best Australia at the world games and it is a really solid resume. The other nominees are all excellent players but Nielsen was clearly the best of the best. I will make her my prediction winner as well and if the users don’t pick her, then they just don’t know.
MCLA Player of the year:
Yealy is silky smooth inside and very opportunistic, Grow did it all from the midfield, Moriarty was like a brickwall in the net and Mills picked up a ton of GBs and added a lot of points as well but I don’t think anyone one of them helped their respective teams as much as Simon Fraser’s Ben Towner. The attackman scored often and did so in a lot of different ways with great hands and poise. He was a clear on the field leader and really impressed me when I saw some of his MCLA playoff games. SFU didn’t get a ton of press but Towner deserves the award as much as anyone else for his playoff heroics alone on a team that was not as respected as they maybe should have been. I predict that Yealy will win the award though because he put up ridiculous point totals even though I personally think his game has some major holes in it. I mean, has anyone even considered face-guarding the kid with a shortie? Come on, coaches!
MLL Player of the year:
I’ll keep it sweet and short: Rabil and Rabil. It all comes down to Rabil. Rabil, Rabil, Rabil, Malkovick, Rabil.
NLL Player of the year:
This is a tough one. IL has a pretty American slant to their readership and content so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Casey Powell win this award and will stick with Powell for my prediction but my choice is different; I’m going with Mark Steenhuis. He’s got crazy hair, ugly shoes and a traditional spoon that would make stick doctor cry but the guy flat out produces from his transition position. He plays tough D, mixes it up, pushes the rock and then does it again and again and again. I really hope he works on his game and tries to bring it to the MLL next summer because he is exciting to watch and tough to stop.
Lacrosse Personality of the year:
Rabil is huge and is my prediction to win the award as the kids love him, he is everywhere and he does photo shoots with those big “come hither” eyes for Maverik but my pick has to be Brett Queener. The kid is ridiculous in all variations of the word. He is a ridiculously good goalie, has a ridiculously good stick, is off-the-wall and rocks a pretty respectable moustache. He’s so weird, a lot of people think he’s Canadian. I think Queener is a sleeper pick here!
Individual game performance of the year:
Bitter put up 8 goals on 9 shots vs UMBC. Amazing, yes, but it was the regular season. Frank had 27 saves but he played for Sacred Heart and it was against Villanova. 27 is impressive but the game really has to mean something to be considered for this award. Same thing applies to Steenhuis. 4 goals and THIRTEEN assists is one heck of an NLL stat line but not when it happens in an all-star game. Same thing again applies to Langtry in the MLL all star game with his 2 point barrage of points. The winner, in my opinion, has to be Connor English of Manhasset HS who scored 9 goals against top-notch competition in Lafayette HS. Did I mention that is a Manhasset playoff goals record? or that it occurred in the state finals? winner winner, chicken dinner. My prediction is Bitter because everyone heard about it and it was on Sportscenter but English deserves it more. His game mattered a lot more and he scored an extra goal. pretty simple, non?
Game of the year:
All 5 nominated games were 1 goal affairs. The Blazers scoring 2 goals in 10 seconds at the end of the game to beat the Titans 9-8 was really good. Michigan over Chapman was a classic. Gilman over La Salle was unreal and UVa beating UMd 10-9 after SEVEN overtimes was an absolute pleasure to watch and had me watching from the edge of my seat for what seemed like (oh wait, it was!) hours but nothing compares to the Cuse Cornell National Championship game. Lead changes, big names doing all that they could to help their team win, injured players toughing it out for glory, the thrill of victory and almost more tangibly the crush of last minute defeat were all there and it made the game one of the best I have ever had the pleasure to watch. The level of play went from slow to chaotic and back again almost on a whim as an entire season of hardwork played out in front of thousands on a beautiful day. It just doesn’t get any better than that.
Upset of the year:
I will go with Cornell over Virginia on this one because UVa looked really good coming into the game after beating the Hop and Cornell just DESTROYED them. Gilman may have lost to BL but it is still BL and winning should never be a surprise there. Stevenson beating Salisbury was big but SU had lost to Gburg two weeks before so it isn’t like the Gulls were invincible. Georgetown was always overrated so while the St. Johns win was big for St. Johns, overall it wasn’t that surprising. Hartford beating UMBC was surprising since it was later in the year, Hartford was 1-10 and UMBC was ranked at 8 but it was somewhat of a trap game and those kind of upsets never really interest me… I like it when the spotlight is on. I think Cornell over UVa will take this award.
Highlight reel goal of the year:
Rabil shoots hard but it certainly isn’t the goal of the year. Neither is Schwartzman’s MLL All star goal and neither are the HS kids throwing btbs to each other. It comes down to Cuse’s Kenny Nims’ goal against Cornell and Loyola’s Shane Koppens’ goal against Hopkins. Nims’ goal was bigger in terms of winning hardware but Loyola has always played second or third fiddle to Hopkins in lacrosse and you can just see how happy an amazing goal makes all the Loyola fans so I’m going with that one although I predict that Rabil might just take home this award too. He’s like the biblical Samson of lax… someone needs to cut his hair if they want to contain him. Unless he’s also like Brock Samson… and then it doesn’t matter. He’ll kill you anyway. If you don’t know what I’m talking about you NEED to watch the Venture Brothers cartoon.
Team of the year:
I am predicting that Cuse will take this one home because a lot of people LOVE Cuse lax but to me the undisputed winner is the Northwestern Women’s Team. I mean that school dropped its team, brought it back less than 10 years ago and has been reeling off National Championships ever since. They could win team of the decade hands down and if they don’t win this one, then I have my doubts about the readers! Open and shut case to me.
Best high school team of the year:
3 teams from NY, one from Maryland and one from… FLORIDA? Right now most people are probably saying, “No way, man. My middle of the road team in (insert your home state) would CRUSH St. Andrew’s”. I have news for you: they wouldn’t. St. Andrew’s is legit, is run like a college program and is run by one of the best coaches in all of HS lax (who once put up more points in an NLL season than Gary Gait) in Jeff Goldberg. The kids are smart, tough, athletic and disciplined and they play high level lacrosse. I don’t think they are necessarily the best, but they can certainly be added to the conversation. I have no idea who will win this award and am not even offering an opinion because many of these teams don’t actually play each other but wanted to make the point that St. Andrew’s lacrosse is excellent… because I know some knucklehead is going to have a problem with their inclusion. Also, my girlfriend went there.
Coach of the year:
Hands down – Kelly Amonte-Hiller. She has won 5 straight NCs and recruits the absolute BEST players year in, year out. Desko, Cantebene, Beville and Cordingley are all great coaches but she is the tops right now without a doubt.
Clutch performance of the year
Hofstra won 11 games. Card scored the game winner in 7 of those wins. He is my 100% pick. I could see Jamieson winning it though as his National championship game performance is more widely known.
Breakthrough performance of the year:
Bitter really broke through this year and will be one of the biggest stars from the start next year. Crotty took over a team from Danowski and Greer and flourished but I think the biggest breakthough was Cody Jamieson. He comes from two places that we don’t hear a lot about: Community College and a Native American Reservation. Onondaga CC has gotten a lot of publicity since his arrival at Cuse, he is now pegges as the #1 NLL pick when decides to declare (likely at the end of next season) and he’s even getting US press coverage over the summer for his box lax skills. My choice is Jamieson but I predict Bitter will win the award because he was somewhat of an unknown to begin the season and by the end was causing commotion with pundits because he wasn’t included in the final Tewaaraton race when he clearly deserved to be.