Welcome to Tewaaraton Watch 2021! The idea here is simple: our “esteemed” panel of LAS contributors will submit their own ballots every few weeks of the season. From there, I’ll tally up the results, then give you a breakdown of which guys our staff thinks have the best shot to take home the trophy this season.
For our first installment, we’re taking a look at things through roughly three to five games of play. Our preseason favorites are definitely still in the conversation, but some lesser-known names have taken over the rankings recently, including a guy outside of our preseason top 10 in the top five and a brand-new player at the top of the list. Let’s do this thing, starting with our No. 1 voted player, and then proceeding through our top 10 as voters.
Tewaaraton Watch 2021 – Week 3 Update
#1: Ryan Tierney, Senior, Attackman, Hofstra
Stats so far: 4 GP, 23G, 7A
Highest/lowest ranking: 1st/2nd
Our new No. 1, Ryan Tierney has been scorching hot to start 2021. The Massapequa, New York, native is averaging 7.5 points per game so far. He’s not solely responsible for Hofstra’s rise back into the top 20, but he’s easily the most important player for the Pride. With six goals on 55% shooting against Wagner in their most recent game, Tierney broke the CAA’s all-time points record, as well as becoming Hofstra’s new record-holder for career goals. He is also tied with UNC’s Chris Gray for the most points in Division I right now, with one fewer game played. Circle March 20 as a huge game for Tierney’s Tewaaraton campaign; it’s when the Pride will travel to the Dome to face Syracuse.
#2: Chris Gray, Senior, Attackman, North Carolina
Stats so far: 5 GP, 18G, 12A
Highest/lowest ranking: 1st/2nd
Chris Gray began the season as our Tewaaraton Watch 2021 consensus No. 2 favorite, and he’s done nothing to disprove that theory through five games. UNC is ranked a single point in voting behind Duke for the No. 1 ranking in the nation right now, and Gray continues to be the engine that makes the nation’s top offense work. He’s had seven points in every game so far except a quiet showing against Richmond, where he was held to just two. With that said, Gray is the only player right now in the top five for both goals (2nd) and assists (4th) nationally. If his strong play carries into ACC play, he could wind up the top of the list.
#3: Jake Carraway, Senior, Attackman, Georgetown
Stats so far: 3 GP, 16G, 7A
Highest/lowest ranking: 3rd/4th
Just a fun fact to demonstrate how dominant the Hoyas have been so far this year: Carraway’s eight-goal performance in their opening game against Villanova puts him one score ahead of the total number of goals allowed by Georgetown through three games. While the defense is certainly a major factor in the Hoyas’ rise to top five in the polls, Carraway has more than done his part, averaging 7.7 points per game so far. He ranks fourth nationally in goals, despite having only played three games. The numbers should be there, but Carraway’s chances at the Tewaaraton likely rest on his team’s performances against Denver and Loyola given its weaker overall strength of schedule.
#4: Michael Sowers, Senior, Attackman, Duke
Stats so far: 5 GP, 10G, 17A
Highest/lowest ranking: 4th/5th
The fall from our preseason No. 1 to this week’s No. 4 shouldn’t be taken as a knock against Sowers, who has been a key factor in Duke finally escaping February without a loss. Sowers has just had a slower start than is typical for him. Not exactly shocking for a guy playing in a new system. Still, Sowers has been heating up of late, putting up 6/6/8 points in his last three games. If Duke remains No. 1, or even stays close, Sowers will remain a contender in Tewaaraton Watch 2021. If he continues to average six-plus points, he’s almost certainly a lock to be a finalist and could threaten both the all-time assists record and the all-time points per game record to boot.
#5: Jared Bernhardt, Senior, Attackman, Maryland
Stats so far: 2 GP, 5G, 6A
Highest/lowest ranking: 5th/9th
Back in action for the Terps after trying his hand at football, Bernhardt has been his typically dominant self already, despite the announcers repeatedly hyping up how he’s not even in lacrosse shape yet. The senior is fresh off dropping seven points against Penn State in a 13-7 win, making him responsible for more than half of Maryland’s goals. If that type of performance is just him getting back in the flow of the game, then look out, Big Ten.
#6: Brendan Nichtern, Junior, Attackman, Army
Stats so far: 3 GP, 10G, 9A
Highest/lowest ranking: 4th/7th
Army’s upset win over Syracuse has vaulted the Black Knights into the top 10, and Nichtern deserves a good amount of credit for that. He leads Army in points, goals and assists. He dropped seven points on Syracuse in the Dome and followed that up with another seven-point performance in Army’s third game. With ‘Cuse and UVA out of the way, Army’s schedule lightens up significantly. Whether Nichtern can make enough noise in the Patriot League to become a finalist remains to be seen, but he’s off to a strong start in our Tewaaraton Watch 2021.
#7: Connor Kirst, Senior, Midfielder, Rutgers
Stats so far: 2 GP, 7G, 4A
Highest/lowest ranking: 3rd/9th
Rutgers is off to possibly its best start: 2-0 after rocking a top-10 OSU team. The Kirst brothers are a big part of that. You can debate the team MVP between them and Adam Charalambides, but Kirst has been the points leader so far for the Scarlet Knights. He had seven points against Penn State (another top-10 win, at the time), and then racked up four goals against Ohio State. His transfer to Rutgers appears even better considering how anemic the Villanova offense has looked since his departure.
#8: Asher Nolting, Senior, Attackman, High Point
Stats so far: 4 GP, 8G, 15A
Highest/lowest ranking: 6th/7th
For better or for worse, High Point once again scheduled half the dang ACC for its out-of-conference play. Thus, the Panthers are just 1-3 so far, which hurts Nolting’s Tewaaraton chances despite his fantastic play. The thicc king from Colorado ranks sixth nationally in points, racking up the second-most assists in the nation so far as the quarterback of a successful Panthers offense. HPU still has to face Duke before it goes back to playing teams more on its level, but all this ACC play could mean it comes into SoCon play ready to make serious conference noise.
#9: Tucker Dordevic, Sophomore, Midfielder, Syracuse
Stats so far: 2 GP, 7G, 1A
Highest/lowest ranking: 8th/10th
When you’re getting Powell comps as a Syracuse offensive player, things are going well for you. Arguments can be made about who is the best of Syracuse’s first-line midfield, but Dordevic is the one making the biggest impact so far. He was one of the few bright spots for the Orange in their opening loss to Army, putting up four goals and an assist against the Black Knights. He followed that up with an early hat trick against Virginia. He’s also scrapping on the ride and in ball-down situations, with three ground balls in each game so far.
#10: Owen McElroy, Senior, Goalie, Georgetown
Stats so far: 3 GP, 86% save rate, 4 goals allowed
Highest/lowest ranking: 7th/NR
I don’t care who they’ve played. The Hoyas allowing just seven goals through three games against Division I opponents is nuts. Credit goes to the whole defense, and defensive coordinator Jack Rowlett deserves love, but McElroy is the heart of the Swamp Dogs’ defense. He’s got an insane 86% save rate through three games, only allowing four goals so far in his playing time. He allowed a single goal past him in both the first and second games. McElroy was my pick for Preseason Goalie of the Year, and he’s looked the part so far.
Also receiving votes: Will Bowen (North Carolina defenseman), JT Giles-Harris (Duke defenseman), Connor Shellenberger (Virginia midfielder).