Welcome to the start of something special: Position U. In this six-part series, your favorite college lacrosse lover, Ryan Conwell, will break down the NCAA DI men’s programs that can consider themselves the best at producing a given position in recent history. First, let’s get into who produces the best lacrosse attackmen, a.k.a. Attack U.
When trying to determine which schools have a reputation for producing the best players at a certain position, there are a number of factors that need to be considered. It’s easy enough to just create a list off the top of your head, but in an effort to try and be as objective as possible, I of course lean on my old friend: math! I needed to find a way to consistently note which players could be considered better than others while also doing so in a manner that could be calculated in some way.
The result was making a formula that took into account All-America votes (via USILA), postseason awards, and also success at the pro level. For that last piece, I considered draft picks and rounds, but depending on the year, too many players get drafted and never play, or play a limited amount of time. So instead, I looked at All-Star rosters across the PLL and MLL to give an additional nudge.
The next question was how far back to look. Since we’re dealing with college, going beyond four years was a given. One great recruiting class does not mean your school is all of a sudden the best at producing defenders. We need a long enough trend to make a real pattern emerge. So, I went to 10 years, but the year 2020 kind of stuck out. Because, well, *you know why.* To make up for 2020’s lack of postseason awards and All-Star Games, I added 2011 to the mix as well. More is better, right?
The benefit of going all the way back to 2011 for Pro All-Star Games is it gave some of those wily vets a chance to impact the rankings of their schools as well. That way, there’s a small nod to the true history of a program in addition to the heavily weighted recent past. So mashing all these numbers together produced a list of the top programs to produce players at each position.
To start things off, we go to our masters of the X, the crease crankers, the high scorers: the attackmen. So, which program has produced the best lacrosse attackmen in the past decade and gets to lay a claim as “Attack U?”
Attack U: Who Has Produced the Best Lacrosse Attackmen?
At three, we go to the Research Triangle for Duke. In the given time span, the Blue Devils have done a bit of everything: individual awards, team awards, All-Star Games, and national championships. And all of their team success has hinged on a steady flow of great attackmen.
Between the college and pro awards, the players who have helped elevate this group the most are Jordan Wolf, Justin Guterding, Ned Crotty, and Matt Danowski.
Coming in at second is the team most would have picked based as Attack U on the names alone if forced to guess. That’s right, it’s Albany.
The amount of hardware Lyle and Miles Thompson collected by themselves was practically enough to put Albany in the top five, but getting up past the other major schools in contention needs a lot more than just one family.
Behind the Thompsons, you still have a long line of significant attackmen, like Tehoka Nanticoke, Seth Oakes, Connor Fields, and Joe Resetaritis. Especially considering the recruiting power of the teams around the Danes, this is quite a group of players who have made a huge impact on the game.
1: North Carolina
Even though it only has a single national championship to show for it, UNC has been churning out attackman consistently for years. Of course, it helps when a player like Chris Cloutier has the tournament of a lifetime and helps win a NCAA title, but Cloutier was just the tip of the ice berg when it comes to Tar Heel attackman in this time frame.
While there were no Tewaaraton winners, they did collect more than their fair share of hardware as a group. Who are some of the players who helped elevate UNC to the top? Here’s a short list: Chris Cloutier, Chris Gray, Billy Bitter, Joey Sankey, Marcus Holman, Davey Emala, and Jimmy Bitter.
What’s most notable about this group is how many times they were turning in seasons worthy of Second Team All-America compared to more headline years, and still having a ton of players lock up All-Star positions as well. So congrats to the Heels: you’ve produced the best lacrosse attackmen these last 10 years, and you’re our official Attack U of the decade!
Didn’t see who you thought you would up there? Here’s how the next bunch finished in our Attack U standings, in order:
10: Penn State
Position U Series
You can find the rest of the Position U series here, which will include Attack U, Defense U, Faceoff U, Midfielder U, LSM U, and Goalie U, with a new one coming each week into early November.