Best of Lacrosse: Best Milestone Moment Finalists
While ultimately the win is what every player and team is striving for, there are some things that happen along the way that are worthy of special recognition. These players and teams had some big moments in 2013, but which is your choice for the #bestoflax?
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Denver Outlaws (MLL Perfect Season)
With a 18-12 win over the Hamilton Nationals on August 10th, Denver did what only two other major American professional sports franchises have done, finishing a perfect regular season. The Outlaws joined the 2007 New England Patriots and 1972 Miami Dolphins by going 14-0, smashing several league records along the way. Before 2013, the win-streak record to start a season was nine (2005 Bayhawks). The season win record was 12 (2002 Bayhawks, 2001 Lizards), and the win percentage mark was set in 2006 by Denver and Philadelphia at .833. Unfortunately, the Outlaws were also like the 2007 Patriots in not winning it all after falling in the league semifinals to Charlotte, but that doesn't diminish the milestones the team set on the way.
Rob Pannell, Cornell (NCAA Scoring Record)
Cornell's star attackman entered the NCAA semifinal against Duke seven points shy of setting a new Division I career points record. It just so happened the man who held it at 353 points, Matt Danowski, was on the sideline as the Blue Devils' assistant coach. The Big Red lost the game, 16-14, but during an 8-1 second-half spurt that eventually brought Cornell within one goal in the final minute, Pannell — with three goals and two assists during the run — tied and broke the record. He finished with 354 points, one more than Danowski. Pannell set the mark in a fifth season granted after his first senior season was ended early due to a broken foot.
Onondaga CC (70th Straight Win)
There's a winning streak, and then there's something entirely different, and Onondaga Community College is on the latter right now, finishing 2013 unbeaten – an astonishing third straight undefeated season, winning its fifth straight NJCAA national championship. The 70 straight wins are a record, not only for the junior college ranks, but for all of lacrosse at the collegiate level. Jordan Saunderson and Warren Hill were named offensive and defensive MVP for the tournament, respectively, as the Lazers finished the year 17-0 and can add to their mark once their season starts up in the spring.
Lyle Thompson (1st Native Tewaaraton Finalist)
Thompson, and his brother, Miles, and cousin, Ty, took the Division I men's lacrosse world by storm this year beginning with Albany's season-opening upset of Syracuse. The Great Danes put up astronomical offensive numbers — 15.94 goals per game made Albany the highest-scoring team in Division I since Virginia's 18.21 average in 1997. Lyle Thompson, as a sophomore, led the nation in points per game with 6.65. For his efforts, Thompson became the first Native American finalist for the Native American-inspired Tewaaraton Award. He finished with 113 points, one shy of the NCAA Division I single-season record and Albany fell to Denver in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Cornell's Rob Pannell won the Tewaaraton after making the final four with the Big Red and setting the NCAA Division I career points mark.
NCAA D-I Women's Lacrosse (100 Teams)
2013 was a century celebration for Division I women's lacrosse – for the first time, 100 teams competed in the college game's top division. The 100 teams hailed from 25 different states, and competed in 13 conferences. Thanks to the growth, the NCAA tournament expanded from 16 to 26 teams, which allowed five programs to get their first NCAA tournament bids. The expanded tournament even produced a first-time champion, North Carolina. While the Tar Heels have long been a powerhouse program, the team has existed for only 18 years. That's promising for the other relative youngsters in the field.
- Clare Lochary