Coyne's All-Americans: NCAA Division II
|It was once again a stacked year
for faceoff men in Division II, but Adelphi's Greg Puskuldjian
(left) was the pick this year for Jac Coyne's All-American
© Brian Ballweg
As far as handing out All-American accolades, Division II is one of the more economical outfits. They only have two teams and a tight honorable mention section and, all told, there are only 36 players in the country who earn the USILA's imprimatur in D-II. Pretty reasonable, actually.
Still, there can be only 12 players who have shown they are the cream of the crop. This year was probably the most difficult selection process of the bunch, with several very good players not making the final list despite outstanding credentials. But no one said this was going to be easy.
Here's my Division II All-American team:
Attack — Riley Loewen, Sr., Limestone
The symbiotic relationships with Shayne Jackson last year lent itself to a spectacular season, but Loewen proved that he didn't need a sidekick, although he certainly had plenty of talent around him. Loewen's production was up 32 percent from last year after a 90-point (54 goals, 36 assists) campaign in 2013.
Attack — Luke Miller, Soph., NYIT
Miller had a solid rookie campaign last spring with 45 points, but he nearly doubled that output with 44 goals and 42 assists, leading the Bears to the postseason. He converted more than 45 percent of his shots and in the four games against NCAA tourney qualifiers, he averaged better than a hat trick along with 1.5 assists per outing. Miller also quietly finished third in ground balls with 46.
Attack — Brian Scheetz, Sr.,
The engine of the Lakers' undefeated regular season, Scheetz was an assist machine, dishing out 46 dimes to go along with his 27 markers. The program's all-time leader in points (which he accomplished as a junior), Scheetz averaged a goal and three assists during Mercyhurst's push to the national championship game.
Midfield — James Delaney, Sr., Seton
After earning midfielder of the year honors in 2012, teams were paying extra attention to Delaney, but he still delivered for the tourney-bound Griffins. He finished with 29 goals and 21 assists, including three game-winning markers. He eclipsed the five-point mark in three different games and buried a hat trick against Limestone in the quarterfinals.
Midfield — Reagan Harding, Soph., Lake
The Storm made the leap this year, qualifying for the NCAA tourney, and Harding was a big reason why. He scored 31 goals along with eight assists, and in the pivotal game against Seton Hill in the ECAC semifinals, he buried three goals and added an assist in the upset victory. He had three game-winners, and even moonlighted at the dot, winning 15 of his 24 draws (63 percent).
Midfield — Tor Reinholdt, Sr.,
In a lot of cases, offensive production dictates a middie's value. When you can combine points — Reinholdt finished third on the Saints with 22 goals and 29 assists — with some of the grittier aspects of the position, like defense and wing play, it makes for an easy choice. Reinholdt brought the whole package (and he had two goals and two assists in the national semifinal against Mercyhurst) to the field this year.
Faceoff — Greg Puskuldjian, Jr.,
It was once again a stacked field of faceoff specialists in Division II this year, but Puskuldjian set himself apart with a 67.2 win percentage (154-for-229). In the Panthers' two tournament games, he ran at a 63.6 percent clip. Puskuldjian, who was spelled by the equally superb Rashad Cureton (68.8 winning percentage) during the season, finished with a team-leading 100 ground balls and three goals.
Long-Stick Midfield — Kevin Kennedy, Sr.,
It's a whole new world for long-stick midfielders with the new rules, and Kennedy filled the role the best this spring. Not only did he handle his business on the defensive end of the field, along with gobbling up the fourth-most ground balls on the team (41), but he was a dynamic threat on the offensive end. He was ninth on the team in scoring with 10 goals, including a game winner, along with five assists.
Defense — Alex Cameron-Carter, Sr., Le
It was another outstanding campaign for Cameron-Carter, who finished with 38 ground balls and 19 caused turnovers. Anchoring a backline that allowed less than six goals per contest, Cameron-Carter was at his best in the postseason, where he helped shut down some of the top offensive players in the country, including Mercyhurst's Brian Scheetz (one goal in the title game).
Defense — Danny McDermott, Jr., NYIT
One of four players to start every game for the Bears, McDermott was arguably the most important player on the field for NYIT. He finished second in ground balls (69) and posted 41 caused turnovers — well over double that of any other player on his team. McDermott added a goal and two assists this spring.
Defense — Andrew Wagner, Jr.,
The rock on which the Lakers' defense was built, Wagner was his usual steady self this spring. He chipped in with 25 ground balls and 11 caused turnovers, but his value was in neutralizing the opposition's top offensive player with solid positioning and opportunistic checks. He had just two minutes of penalties in 19 games.
Goalie — Jeff White, Sr., Le Moyne
White's backstory — making zero saves in last year's semifinals only to find redemption in this year's title match with Most Outstanding Player honors — is compelling, but he earned his spot here with his season-long excellence. He posted a 61.2 save percentage along with a stingy 5.57 goals against average, leading to a school-record 18 wins.
Rookie of the Year
Matty Beccaris, LIU Post
The rest of Division II should be frightened that LIU Post re-emerged on the national stage this past spring as the Pioneers graduate just seven seniors. The run to an 11-3 mark and a tourney berth was sparked by an influx of young talent, highlighted by Beccaris, who led Post in goals (35), assists (15) and points (50) in his first season. Beccaris' penchant for delivering against the premier teams highlighted his achievements. He excelled against Adelphi (four goals), NYIT (five goals, two assists), Mercyhurst (two goals, three assists) and Le Moyne (one goal, one assist), and he'll be one of the key reasons the Pioneers will be a contender in 2014.
Coach of the Year
Greg Stocks, Lake Erie
A fourth-year team located in Painesville, Ohio, doesn't seem like fertile ground for a coach of the year candidate. But when an individual can ignore the callowness of his program and the geographic challenges of the institution to get his team to the dance, he's going to be a front-runner for the award. The fourth spot in the South was a mystery until Lake Erie turned a 16-8 regular season loss to Seton Hill into a 12-10 triumph in the ECAC semifinals. It was a master stroke by Stocks, who used the 12-man senior class — his first recruiting class at Lake Erie — to do much of the heavy lifting, and proved that the Storm could play with anybody in the country. At the beginning of the season, that was very much in question, but Stocks infused his players with the confidence to succeed. That's coach of the year material.
Player of the Year
Riley Loewen, Limestone
Since his sophomore season, Loewen has been one of the best players in the country, but this year was the culmination of his evolution. He was not only the Saints top gun (54 goals), but was also one of the top marksmen (shooting percentage of 47.0) and the top playmaker (36 assists). He was a nightmare on the extra-man (10 EMO markers) and finished third on the team in ground balls helped by a hard riding game. Falling a goal short in each of the last two seasons was a tough way to end the seasons, but it did nothing to impact Loewen's legacy as one of the best the division has ever produced.