December 31, 2015
Lyle Thompson, showing off his patented backhand shot at the Hawaii Lacrosse Tournament in November, is Lacrosse Magazine's Best Men's Player of 2015. (Anna Scipione)
Lyle Thompson, showing off his patented backhand shot at the Hawaii Lacrosse Tournament in November, is Lacrosse Magazine's Best Men's Player of 2015. (Anna Scipione)

Best of Lacrosse 2015 Winners and Fan Picks

from staff reports | #BestOfLax

Lacrosse fans won't soon forget 2015 — a year of historic achievements, paradigm-altering upsets and Internet-breaking highlights. But which players, coaches, games and moments stood out above the rest?

You voted. We debated. Here are the winners.


Finalists (Breakdown)
Wesley Berg, Denver
Shawn Evans, Calgary Roughnecks/Canada
Greg Gurenlian, New York Lizards
Lyle Thompson, Albany/Florida Launch/Iroquois

Fans' Pick
Lyle Thompson – 1,667 votes – 51%

Perhaps the only argument against Thompson is that his 2015 season was only the second-most prolific in NCAA history, falling short of his epic 2014. Thompson's 121 points trailed only his own mark of 128 set in 2014. But considering he was dinged up at the beginning of the season and carried a new supporting cast at Albany to the NCAA quarterfinals, his 2015 performance may have been even more impressive.

LM's Pick
Lyle Thompson

No argument here. Thompson's 400 career points crushed the previous NCAA record (Rob Pannell's 354). He finished a close second in MLL Rookie of the Year voting with the Florida Launch, then was All-World for the Iroquois Nationals at the World Indoor Lacrosse Championship in September, making him All-World in consecutive indoor and outdoor international games.

Maryland's Taylor Cummings could become the first three-time Tewaaraton Award winner, male or female, in 2016. (John Strohsacker)


Finalists (Breakdown)
Taylor Cummings, Maryland
Shannon Gilroy, Florida
Selena Lasota, Northwestern/Canada
Kayla Treanor, Syracuse

Fans' Pick
Selena Lasota – 5,079 votes – 47%

Lasota's highlight-reel scoring drew broad appeal in 2015. Northwestern's final four streak ended at 10, but the Wildcats' rebuilding season could have been much worse were it not for Lasota, who followed her 69-goal freshman campaign with an MVP performance in Canada's U19 world championship upset of Team USA in Scotland.

LM's Pick
Taylor Cummings

With all due respect to the other finalists, Cummings' talent, athleticism and competitive drive have her playing in a different stratosphere. We are witnessing a once-in-a-generation talent. Cummings won her second straight Tewaaraton Award and could become the first three-time winner, male or female, in 2016. She led the Terps to their second straight NCAA title with 63 goals, 37 assists, 143 draw controls and 36 caused turnovers.

Bill Tierney delivered on the promise he made in 2009 to bring an NCAA championship to Denver, his seventh as a head coach. (Trevor Brown)


Finalists (Breakdown)
Mike Daly, Tufts
Joe Spallina, New York Lizards
Bill Tierney, Denver
John Tillman, Maryland

Fans' Pick
Mike Daly – 4,181 votes – 58%

Daly's innovative spirit and ability to empower his players and assistant coaches have turned Tufts into a Division III dynasty. His high-yield offenses have inspired imitators even at the Division I level, where former Tufts player and offensive coordinator Sean Kirwan has turned Brown into a scoring juggernaut. Daly, meanwhile, just keeps winning. The Jumbos won their third NCAA championship in six years with a 19-11 victory over Lynchburg. Tufts' coach's even keel was never more apparent than in the championship game, as the Jumbos withstood an early Lynchburg outburst and dominated the rest of the way.

LM's Pick
Bill Tierney

Tierney may have cemented his place as the greatest coach in college lacrosse history — of the NCAA era, at least — by fulfilling a promise he made in 2009 to bring a national championship to Denver. The Pioneers became the first non-East Coast team to win the NCAA title, Tierney's seventh as a head coach. Denver was preseason No. 1 and ended the year there. The Pioneers took on stiff challengers, mainly Notre Dame. A late recruiting pickup, faceoff specialist Trevor Baptiste, turned out to be arguably the team's MVP.

Kerstin Kimel led Duke to its first final four since 2011 while underdoing treatment for breast cancer. (Michelle Hutchins)


Finalists (Breakdown)
Kerstin Kimel, Duke
Kelly Lickert-Orr, Cortland
Pat McCabe, Adelphi
Cathy Reese, Maryland

Fans' Pick
Kelly Lickert-Orr – 5,325 votes – 48%

Cortland, a perennial Division III final four contender, was expected to take a step backward after coach Kathy Taylor left for Division II Le Moyne and took star attacker Erica Geremia with her. Au contraire. Enter Lickert-Orr, who came from little-known Keuka and led the Red Dragons to their first NCAA championship.

LM's Pick
Kerstin Kimel

Kimel announced in February she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer, and that was the last she spoke of it. Never missing a game, she led Duke to the NCAA semifinals for the first time since 2011, surpassing the 250-win mark for her career. Kimel has been the Blue Devils' head coach since the team's 1996 inception. Duke's No. 3 seed was its highest since 2007. The Blue Devils finished 16-5.

Albany goalie Blaze Riorden's coast-to-coast goal in an NCAA tournament win over Cornell gained rapid national attention. (Rich Barnes)


Finalists (Breakdown)
Lacrosse Comes Home
Blaze Riorden Goes Viral
The Courage Game
Jack Enright Walks Again

Fans' Pick
Jack Enright Walks Again – 1,376 votes – 51%

Enright inspired the lacrosse community with his courageous fight back from a paralyzing collision that occured during a high school lacrosse game in South Carolina. Players and teams from all corners of the lacrosse universe supported Enright's cause. Enright struck a kinship with stars like Casey Powell and teams like NCAA Division II men's champion Limestone, culminating in his walking across a stage to receive his honorary championship ring in September.

LM's Pick
Blaze Riorden Goes Viral

An ESPY finalist for Play of the Year, the Albany goalie's end-to-end rumble to score against Cornell in the NCAA tournament went against Odell Beckham Jr.'s one-handed catch in an ESPN bracket. Riorden landed on the SportsCenter Top 10 the night of Albany's first-round win over the Big Red and blew up on social media. It won't be forgotten for a long, long time.

Lightly recruited, Denver's Trevor Baptiste burst onto the scene as a freshman, leading the nation in faceoff percentage and the Pioneers to an NCAA title. (Kevin P. Tucker)


Finalists (Breakdown)
Trevor Baptiste, Denver
Kyle Bernlohr, Maryland
Matt Landis, Notre Dame
Dylan Molly, Brown

Fans' Pick
Trevor Baptiste – 845 votes – 49%

A lightly-recruited New Jersey product who was originally headed to Division III Franklin & Marshall turned out to be probably Denver's team MVP. Baptiste led the nation in faceoff percentage and allowed the Pioneers to win a handful of close games in the middle of the year, then powered them through the NCAA tournament to the program's first national title. 

LM's Pick
Trevor Baptiste

We concur. Baptiste "The Beast" and the similar emergence of Syracuse faceoff man Ben Williams — both disciples of MLL MVP Gren Gurenlian — were among the most notable stories of the 2015 college lacrosse season.

Selena Lasota set a Northwestern freshman record with 69 goals, followed by an MVP performance in Canada's upset of Team USA in the U19 world championship. (Courtesy of Northwestern).


Finalists (Breakdown)

Lucy Dikeou, Stanford
Selena Lasota, Northwestern/Canada
Sarah Mannelly, Boston College
Michaela Michael, USC

Fans' Pick
Lucy Dikeou – 21,759 votes – 52%

Dikeou bubbled up as a Tewaaraton nominee as a sophomore, but legitimately put herself in the conversation as a junior. She led Stanford in goals (48), points (63), groundballs (34), draw controls (64), caused turnovers (24) and free-position goals (13). Dikeou followed that up by qualifying for the U.S. national team at a tryout camp after the college season.

LM's Pick
Selena Lasota 

Lasota had some hype coming out of British Columbia, where she grew up playing box lacrosse. But no one could have foreseen the year she had, turning heads with 69 goals as a freshman at Northwestern and then with an MVP performance in Canada's upset of Team USA in the FIL U19 Women's World Championship.

Ryan Brown's third career eight-goal performance came in a big spot for Johns Hopkins, against rival Maryland. (Brian Schneider)


Finalists (Breakdown)
Ryan Brown, Johns Hopkins (vs. Maryland)
Connor Cook, Army (vs. Bucknell)
David Planning, Ohio State (vs. Duke)
Blaze Riorden, Albany (vs. Cornell)

Fans' Pick
Connor Cook – 1,770 votes – 56%

Cook's inspiring performance — scoring a career-high seven points just seven days after the death of his father in a win over nationally ranked Bucknell — resonated with voters. He had a hat trick in the first 20 minutes.

LM's Pick
Ryan Brown

Johns Hopkins' season was starting to turn around by the time a rainy Saturday night arrived April 25 in College Park. But Brown's eight goals, including consecutive scores to start a six-goal fourth-quarter, fueled the Blue Jays' 15-12 win over archrival Maryland. It gave them the top seed in the Big Ten tournament and mojo heading into the postseason, which saw Johns Hopkins return to the NCAA final four for the first time since 2008.

Loyola's Kara Burke tied the NCAA tournament single-game record with eight goals in a second-round upset of fifth-seeded Boston College. (John Risley)


Finalists (Breakdown)
Kara Burke, Loyola (vs. Boston College)
Katherine Finkelston, UConn (vs. Florida)
Kayla Treanor, Syracuse (ACC Tournament)
Megan Whittle, Maryland (vs. North Carolina)

Fans' Pick
Katherine Finkelston – 3,042 votes – 52%

You don't often see UConn in such company, but Finkelston help put the Huskies there, putting them on her back with a five-goal, two-assist performance in an 11-10 upset of then-No. 8 Florida — the team that was supposed to run roughshod all over the Big East. UConn trailed 8-1 before Finkelston scored three goals in 77 seconds to spark the comeback.

LM's Pick
Kara Burke

Those who wrote off Loyola after a 1-4 start or figured the Greyhounds had simply feasted on the Patriot League to get to the NCAA tournament got served when Burke dropped eight goals on fifth-seeded Boston College in the second round. Burke's performance, coming just two days after she scored six against Bryant, tied the NCAA tournament single-game record set in 2002 by North Carolina's Kellie Thompson and matched in 2003 by Virginia's Lauren Aumiller.

Notre Dame's Nick Ossello celebrates after scoring with nine seconds left to send the Irish's "all-West" NCAA semifinal against Denver to overtime. (Greg Wall)


Finalists (Breakdown)
New York vs. Boston (MLL semifinal)
Ohio State vs. Maryland (Big Ten women's semifinal)
Notre Dame vs. Denver (NCAA Division I men's semifinal)
Johns Hopkins vs. Syracuse (NCAA Division I men's quarterfinal)

Fans' Pick
Ohio State vs. Maryland – 1,193 votes – 48%

Fair enough. It certainly was the upset of the year in college women's lacrosse, as the Buckeyes stunned Taylor Cummings and the previously unbeaten (and seemingly unbeatable) Terps in the Big Ten tournament with an 11-10 victory. Goalie Tori DeScenza loomed large in Ohio State's win, which snapped Maryland's 27-game winning streak. DeScenza made seven of her 11 saves in the first half. The Buckeyes limited Cummings to just one assist and neutralized her on draws. 

LM's Pick
Notre Dame vs. Denver

Give the Irish credit. They have a flair for the dramatic. Notre Dame, whose NCAA quarterfinal showdown with Albany earned Best Game honors in 2014, staged an incredible comeback (see Perkovic, Sergio) to send this "all-West" semifinal to overtime. The Irish rallied from four goals down with 3:38 left to force overtime on a Nick Ossello goal with nine seconds remaining in regulation. Perkovic scored three goals during the run. Denver answered in overtime, with NCAA championship MVP Wes Berg scoring the game-winner. Some say Denver and Notre Dame should have been on opposite sides of the bracket, that this should have been the NCAA championship game. They started the season 1-2 in the rankings, bore the brunt of those expectations and lived up to the hype. Two days after eliminating the Irish, the Pioneers defeated Maryland to become the first non-East Coast champ in NCAA Division I men's lacrosse history.

comments powered by Disqus

More Headlines