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June 15, 2010

Coyne’s All-Americans: MCLA Division I

by Jac Coyne | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff | Coyne Archive | Twitter

Elliot Grow was Lacrosse Magazine's Preseason Player of the Year in MCLA Division I. Will he receive the same honor from Jac Coyne?

If I was an MCLA coach, I think I’d rather be on the tournament selection committee than the All-America committee. While the tournament can cause serious angst, there are only a couple of tough calls.

The All-America committee has about 20.

Because the MCLA is geographically disparate, it’s very difficult to get a grasp on how the players stack up, especially from those teams that don’t make it to Denver. Figuring out how to stack conferences is also troublesome, as well.

With that said, the All-American selectors did wimp out a little bit.

First off, 70 players picked out of 102 total teams? That’s even slightly higher than the 105 All-Americans selected out of 166 teams by NCAA Division III – the MCLA has selected 2.7 percent of its players, as opposed to 2.5 by MD3.

And then there is the first and second teams, which consists of four attackman, four middies (plus an additional LSM, FOGO and SSDM), four close defenders and, oddly enough, just one goalie. Also, what’s up with the 20-player third team? It’s even bigger than the honorable mention squad.

Again, it’s a difficult job, and I suppose this is how the committee best felt it should handle the situation. As with the NCAA MD3 selections, sometimes it’s just easier to cast a wider net and cover all the possibilities than “man up” and pick the cream of the crop.

Fortunately, I’m here for you.

One team. Twelve players. That's it.

Coyne’s All-America Team – MCLA Division I 

Attack
Trevor Yealy, Jr., Michigan
The numbers would be good enough for most people – 65 goals, including three in the title game – but what makes Yealy an even more impressive is his patience. He can be shut off for long stretches of a time, but it rarely affects his work rate in front of the cage and doesn’t lessen his persistence on Michigan’s infamous 10-man ride, in which he is a vital cog. Is he a player-of-the-year caliber? Not quite yet, but he’s getting really close.

Ben Towner, Sr., Simon Fraser
We all know that the Clan upgraded its schedule this year, but that didn’t stop Towner from putting up his usual big numbers (47g, 23a). If there was one improbable team in the semifinals, it was Simon Fraser and the reason it was there was due to Towner. Yes, he scored the overtime marker against Colorado State in the quarterfinals, but it was his efforts during the course of the season – even in the dark days – that gave the Clansmen a chance. Throw in his performance throughout his career, and this is an easy pick.

Connor Martin, Sr., Chapman
As I’ve written before, Martin has led a relatively charmed life with the players who he has lined up with over the past three years, but this year he proved he could be the go-to player and still deliver when he needed to. He could burn strong defensive teams like Colorado or Santa Barbara for five goals and then turn around and have a three assist afternoon when shut-off against Florida State. It's this versatility, added to his innate knack for scoring, that puts him on the first team.

Midfield
Ryan Westfall, Jr., Arizona State
Whether he’s gliding in on transition and loading up his huge right-handed shot or whether he’s slipping in between impossibly small gaps in the defense to feed a teammate, Westfall has developed into one of the most feared players in the game. Throw in his ability to play defense at a reasonably high level and he’s one of the premier players in the league.

Dan Pitzl, Sr., Minnesota-Duluth
He and the Bulldogs may have been better served by having him on attack, but it didn’t matter. Pitzl was still a fearsome threat out of the midfield with a massive shot and a keen passing eye. Despite being the focus of opponent’s defensive game-planning, Pitzl always delivered, whether it was via scoring or by setting up his teammates – he had a team-leading 26 assists along with 32 markers.

Eliott Grow, Sr., Brigham Young
Grow was Lacrosse Magazine’s Preseason Player of the year, and he didn’t disappoint. He scored 40 goals and dished out 32 helpers while also playing on the wing on face-offs and taking a regular shift as a defensive middie for the Cougars. Versatility is key when formulating an All-America team and Grow has more than just about everyone else.

Face-off Specialist
Dave Reinhard, Sr., Michigan
No one was sure if Reinhard could replace Brekan Kohlitz at the face-off position for Michigan last year. As it turns out, Kohlitz only managed one national championship and Reinhard graduated with two. It was this year that Reinhard showed his importance as the Wolverines didn’t have the accompanying pieces to cruise to the title. They needed a dominant guy, and Reinhard won every single important draw during the year, with his last face-off win being his most important.

Long Stick Midfielder
Britt Cone, Sr., Brigham Young
He seems like he’s been around forever, and that’s mostly because he’s been playing at a high level ever since he arrived in Provo. A weapon on face-offs, an asset in transition and a shut down pole on defense, Cone’s play was critical in the Cougars making in the quarterfinals.

Defense
Andrew Stein, Sr., Colorado State
The Rams allowed double-digit goals just twice during the regular season – to Arizona State in a win and Michigan in a loss – and Stein was a big reason why. Tasked with covering some of the best players in the country, the senior played stout. Throwing home run checks and being a big take-away guy may earn you notoriety, but it’s the consistently solid guys like Stein who win games.

Justin Krider, Sr., Arizona State
The extra year wasn’t wanted, but Arizona State’s forced hiatus paid dividends for Krider, who emerged as the leader of the Sun Devils defense. ASU is known for its offense, but its defense played a huge role in the march to the title game, with Krider’s fundamentally sound approach being the foundation.

Mark Pohlman, Sr., Boston College
The MCLA’s general tendency to marginalize East Coast conferences like the PCLL and SELC means players like Pohlman are overlooked. He shouldn’t have been. Not only was he a ground ball machine, but Pohlman provided the Eagles a constant defensive presence despite a goaltending merry-go-round.

Goalie
Nick Johnston, Jr., Oregon
Although he wasn’t able to save the last shot of the Ducks’ season – through no fault of his own – Johnston was a major factor in Oregon’s ability to capture the PNCLL title and punch its ticket to Denver. He made 18 saves in an overtime loss to Michigan, 12 stops in the upset victory over Chapman, and another 23 saves in the conference championship win over Simon Fraser. The junior finished with a save percentage of 62.3 against a solid schedule.

Player of the Year – Britt Cone, Brigham Young
As it turns out, Lacrosse Magazine picked the wrong member of the BYU team. While Elliot Grow certainly deserves all the accolades he earns, Cone was the best player in the country this season. It’s difficult to wrap your head around an LSM performing at a level worthy of this award – we’ve become trained to look at the high-scoring attackman or the big-number middie. However, using a motor that never stopped and a skill set that would likely allow him to play at any position on the field at the highest level, Cone capped off his outstanding career with his best year.

Rookie of the Year – Brad Macnee, Colorado
It was mercurial season for Colorado, but the one constant for the Buffaloes much of the year was the play of their freshman goalie. Macnee’s best performance obviously came in CU’s upset victory over Michigan – snapping the Wolverines’ three-year winning streak – when he made 17 saves to preserve the victory in the face blistering pressure in the fourth quarter. He also played well in the tournament, stoning an overtime bid by Oregon and then quickly triggering the transition that ultimately led to the game-winning goal. What Colorado needs next year is stability, and with a premium goalie in Macnee between the pipes, the Buffs have already taken a big step.

Coach of the Year – Chris Malone, Arizona State
When the Sun Devil program was suspended just before the beginning of the 2009 season, Malone could have easily pulled up stakes, tipped his cap to the desert, and been on the first flight back to the East Coast. With his credentials – two-time All-American at Maryland, coaching roots in both the NCAA D-1 and Baltimore high school scene – he would have found another job. Instead of taking the easy route, he saw this thing through. Malone helped reshape the culture of lacrosse at Arizona State and continues to attract top tier talent to Tempe. Even with MCLA coaches falling off the grid at an alarming rate, Malone stared down adversity and guided his team to the brink of a national championship. For this, he is the coach of the year.


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