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Celebrating The Grinders

While attackmen, middies, goalies, and even defensemen, will get lots of recognition for their contributions to their teams there is a group of players grinding it out in positions that aren’t nearly as glorious, but no team could succeed without them. The class of 2014 is full of talent in these types of positions, and these are only a few of the many skilled players whose names you might not hear on TV.

Brendan Fowler, Duke
There is no way that Brendan Fowler could not headline this list. A wrestler and linebacker, Fowler’s physicality propelled him to a 71% win percentage in the national championship game (20-28). Fowler won 64% of his faceoffs on the year, and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Tournament. In doing so, Fowler propelled himself on to the MLL Draft Board. One interesting thing about Fowler is his style. While he uses the pinch and pop on occasion, he wins a lot of his faceoffs by his strength, and ends up clearing the ball back through the defense.

Danny Feeney, Penn
Feeney, who won 54 percent of his faceoffs in 2013, and is another player who deserves recognition for his great play. Feeney’s best performance of 2013 came against Villanova, when he won 16-23 faceoffs and scored a goal. He was Penn’s leader in ground balls and dominated his Ivy League opponents. Another great example of his strength at the X is his 8-14 performance against Denver’s Chase Carraro, who is now with the Ohio Machine. Look for another big year in 2014 from this senior.

Thomas Croonquist, Villanova
1st Team All Big-East player Thomas Croonquist was largely responsible for Villanova’s win over Syracuse, where he won 22-24 faceoffs. That’s 91 percent, an extremely high success rate, which was the highest win percentage in a single game in the NCAA in 2013. Croonquist won 56% of his faceoffs and scored two goals. He also had 107 groundballs on the year, and was named a team captain for the upcoming season.

John LoCascio, Villanova
One of the Villanova players named to the USA tryout team, John LoCascio is arguably the best collegiate long-stick middie in the country. He was a third team All-American and Big East Defensive Player of the Year, with 85 groundballs and 53 caused turnovers. He was also ranked 1st in the country in caused turnovers per game, averaging 3.8 on the year. After his junior season, he is second all-time in caused turnovers in Villanova history with 87 for his career, a record he looks to break in 2014.

Jimmy Cahill/Ryan Buttenbaum, Lehigh
SSDM Cahill and FOGO Buttenbaum are two seniors coming out of reserve roles this year. Buttenbaum will be the team’s primary faceoff man, a role he began to assume towards the end of the year, where he was 1st Team All-Patriot League Tournament. Cahill was in a reserve role behind Derek Bogorowski and Noah Molnar, who have both graduates. Cahill played a key role in terms of Lehigh’s clearing game and scooping up groundballs. Both of these players will be important to Lehigh’s success in 2014.

Other Grinders to watch in 2014:
Kevin Glueckert, Albany FOGO
Luke Duprey, Duke LSM
Tyler Knarr, Georgetown LSM/FOGO
Pat Laconi, Loyola SSDM

Can YOU think of some more grinders who deserve recognition and should have big seasons in 2014?