Before the final week of the first PLL season comes to a close, we have the regular season awards banquet tomorrow night. Some of the awards that will be given out have some tough competition within their respective categories. Here are our predictions for who is going home with some hardware tomorrow night.
Brendan Looney Leadership Award: Kyle Harrison
Lt. Brendan Looney was a former Navy Seal, and member of the Naval Academies lacrosse team. Brendan tragically passed away on September 21st, 2010, serving during Operation Enduring Freedom. This award has been named after him due to the courage he embodied while serving our country, as well as the leadership skills he emulated throughout his life on and off the field. If you ask me, Kyle Harrison represents what this award is all about perfectly. As a veteran to the game, Kyle has been the leader of this Redwoods team since day 1. He has been a role model to a lot of the younger talent in the league, most noticeably attackman Ryder Garnsey. He makes sure to keep his team motivated no matter the games situation, and has been making huge plays the second half of the season.
Jimmy Regan Teammate Award: John Ranagan
Sgt. James Regan was an Army Ranger and also unfortunately lost his life while serving this great country. Jimmy was a midfielder for Duke University from 1999-2002, and was a product of national high school powerhouse Chaminade. Jimmy was described by Duke head coach John Danowski and Chaminade head coach Jack Moran as a natural born leader, and one who put others before himself. Through competition and service, he just wanted to make the others around him better. I feel John Ranagan is the most deserving to accept the award. We know that the Chromes season was not what they thought it would be; but if you look at who always kept his cool, always tried to keep everyone in good spirits, and always tried to put himself on the line to make sure his team would win, it was John Ranagan.
Welles Crowther Humanitarian Award: Scott Ratliff
Welles Crowther was an American equities trader, as well as a volunteer firefighter, who had played lacrosse at Boston College. Welles saved as many as 18 lives on the day of the 9/11 attacks, as he rushed in and out of the building to help anyway he could. His story is know as “The Man in the Red Bandana”, as those he saved out of the building described him as such, because he wore a red bandana with his fire fighter gear. He was someone who was a volunteer, simply because he wanted to help his community and give back to others. Scott Ratliff demonstrates this same values in his doings. Scott is the founder of The Give & Go Foundation, which helps try to grow the game of lacrosse and empower international communities through the sport. He has traveled the world teaching the sport of lacrosse in areas such as Spain, Copenhagen, Belgium, and Tokyo. Scott loves what he does because he loves giving back to others and wants to see these communities prosper, just like Welles Crowther.
Dave Huntley Sportsmanship Award: Joey Sankey
Dave Huntley was was a three time All-American at John Hopkins from 1976-1979. After his illustrious career, Dave went one to be a coach at many different levels. He was a head coach for the NLL’s Philadelphia Wings, and held assistant coaching jobs for Loyola University, the Baltimore Bayhawks, Toronto Nationals, Atlanta Balze, Calvert Hall High School, and 4 times for Team Canada in the World Games. Dave’s energy was contagious and was a great mentor towards the game. His unfortunate passing left a large portion of the lacrosse community stunned, as he had a big impact on a lot of the players in the pro ranks and at the collegiate level. Joey Sankey is who I feel is most deserving of the award. Joey is a player that anyone who killed to have on their team, not just because of his skill, but because his energy and positive attitude are infectious. We have now seen him bring that energy and attitude to two different PLL teams, and you can see from everyones reactions on the field, he is someone everyone loves having on their side of the field.
Rookie of the Year: Ryder Garnsey
This first rookie class was loaded with talent. All of the nominees had immediate impacts to their teams success. But no player sticks out more to me then Ryder Garnsey. Since coming on to the Redwoods scene, he has been a match up nightmare for most defenders. His craftiness and stick skills are some of the best in the league, and has been crucial to the Redwoods second half season success. Ryder has already racked up 31 points this season, and while his season is not over just yet, I think it goes without saying Ryder Garnsey will be a key factor for the Redwoods to hoist that Championship trophy comes Saturday.
Dave Pietramala Defensive Player of the Year: Garrett Epple
Having Johns Hopkins head coach Dave Pietramla be the face of this award is perfectly fitting for who the award will most likely be going to; Garrett Epple. He is without a doubt the best defensive player we’ve seen this year. Garrett has led almost the entire season as the leagues leader in caused turnovers with 24 and counting! Not only can he get the ball on the floor, but if he catches you with your head down, safe to say you’re gunna have a hard time getting back up. This Redwoods defense has been outstanding all year, but Epple has just been playing on a different level.
Brodie Merrill Long Stick Midfielder of the Year: Michael Ehrhardt
Just when you think Michael Ehrhardt can’t out do himself, he does just that. He’s been creating havoc all over the field this season, as well as putting up 13 points. His size and strength make him a problem to most midfielders, and his help in the transition game is one of the things that makes this Whipsnakes team so great. He will have his hands full this weekend, but if this season is an indication of what to expect, he should be just fine.
(Sidenote: kinda awkward Brodie Merrill wasn’t nominated for his own award right? Yikes.)
George Bioardi Hard Hat Award: Mark Glicini
George Bioardi was a member of the Cornell lacrosse program, and was a great defensive threat on the field. The Hard Hat Award will be given out to the best defensive midfielder in the league. I have a hunch it will be Mark Glicini. Mark maybe wasn’t the biggest name coming into the first PLL season, but if you’re a fan of this sport, I guarantee you know his name now. He has been one of the bigger personalities in this league, but his game is even bigger. He is a tough as nails middie, who will do anything to get the ball going the other way; even step in front of every shot before the goalie does.
Oren Lyons Goalie of the Year: Blaze Riordan
Oren Lyons is a Native American Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan of the Seneca Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy. He was once a goalie for the Syracuse Orange, now Lyons is a recognized advocate of indigenous rights. I think all of these goalies are worthy of accepting this award, but I think Blaze Riordan is going to be the winner. Stats don’t lie folks, and Riordan leads the league in save percentage, with 55.8%. He has made some highlight reel saves, and never seems to have an off day.
Paul Cantabene Face-off Man of the Year: Trevor Baptiste
Like I said, stats don’t lie. Trevor Baptiste is the obvious choice here. He has been dominant all season long, and has shown that is all about “ that speed boy”. He leads the league in face-off percentage with 62.8%, and proved to us no matter who is on the other side of the X, odds are he’s taking that ball down the field.
Gait Brothers Midfielder of the Year: Tom Schreiber
If you’re a fan of lacrosse, you know who the Gait brothers are. Paul and Gary Gait are lacrosse royalty, as they were some of the flashiest and most talented players to ever take the field. These qualities resemble what Tom Schreiber is doing to the game right now. Tom is now considered one of the best lacrosse players in the world, and those who watch him play will not argue. He had 39 points this season, and always seemed to get the ball in the back of the net, or in the stick of someone else. Unfortunately suffering a season ending shoulder injury during the playoffs, I have no doubt Tom will come back better then ever next season.
Eamon McEneaney Attackman of the Year: Connor Fields
Eamon McEneaney is another heroic figure in the lacrosse community. He was an All-American at Cornell University, who risked his life during the 9/11 attacks. His talent was unmatched, and had eyes on the back of his head, as a big part of his game was to dish out assists. Connor Fields has been lighting up score boards all season, so I think he should accept this award. He put up 37 points this season, and playing some of the most crafty lacrosse we’ve ever seen. His big time plays have given him on Sportscenter’s Top 10 plays quite a few times this summer, and plays with a style that is hard to replicate.
Dick Edell Coach of the Year: Andy Towers
Dick Edell was a legendary lacrosse coach. He served as the head coach for the University of Maryland, United States Military Academy, and UMBC lacrosse teams. Edell was inducted into the US Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2004, where he holds the second-most NCAA tournament appearances of any head coach. Coach Edell is held to a high standard, and Andy Towers is a coach who deserves some of the same respect. His coaching style is high energy, high paced, and physical blue collar lacrosse. He is lacrosses version of Stone Cold Steve Austin, and is certainly a fan favorite. Maybe if he takes the award home we’ll see him slam some beers together and get the crowd fired up.
Jim Brown Most Valuable Player: Matt Rambo
Jim Brown is a world class athlete. He was mesmerizing on the football field, but was just as talented on the lacrosse field. He is now viewed as a game changer to the sport, just as Matt Rambo is. Rambo has been playing some of the best lacrosse of his life this season. He has put up 43 points this season, and has been the league points and assets leader for a majority of the season. This league is loaded with talent al over the field, and no matter which metric you look at, Rambo seems to be the one who stays out as a top dog.