Coyne's All-Americans: MCLA Division I
|Buffalo only had one loss during
the regular season and earned the No. 5 seed in the tourney,
thanks to the play of Alex Hultgren (above). Despite operating out
of the midfield, Hultgren was the Bulls biggest playmaker with 25
goals and 17 assists, assuring his spot on Jac Coyne's All-America
© Cecil Copeland
With an "Absurdity Percentage" – the number of teams in a division divided by the number of All-Americans they sponsor – of 83.8, I thought MCLA Division II was going to walk away with the prize this spring.
Oh, ye of little faith.
With orange slices undoubtedly dancing in their heads, the MCLA Division I coaches handed out 103 All-American plaques among the 94 teams they had this year, moving us completely out of the fractional sphere. We're through the looking glass and into whole numbers now, folks, with an unprecedented Absurdity Percentage of 110.
In my perpetual quest to stop the licentious All-American arms race that has emerged in the past decade among the divisions that I cover, I've been putting together the Coyne All-America team. My squad consists of just 12 players – the standard 10 plus an LSM and FOGO – along with a player and coach of the year.
Without further ado:
Coyne's MCLA Division I All-Americans
Attack – Ted Ferrin, Senior – Brigham
Sometimes the math does the weeding out process. Ferrin led the nation in goals (81), assists (51) and points (132), averaging a stunning 6.0 points per outing (good for second in the country). Throw in the fact that he did it against one of the toughest schedules in the association while being a marked man after leading the Cougars to a national title in 2011, and Ferrin made this pick easy.
Attack – Scott Heberer, Senior – Cal
The Mustangs had plenty of offensive talent stockpiled for their run to the No. 1 seed in the tournament and their 21-2 record, but Heberer was the glue that held the whole thing together. The numbers were there – 42 goals and 37 assists for a team-best 79 points – but just the threat of what he could do opened the door for the likes of Matt Graupmann, Olivier Schmied and Brian Kovary. Although Poly managed to survive a couple of games this year without Heberer, the Mustangs wouldn't have come close to their heights without him.
Attack – Tyler Novotny, Junior –
He had a decent year in 2011 after transitioning from NCAA Division I St. John's with 36 goals and 10 assists, but Novotny turned it up a notch this spring. He finished with 67 markers and 17 dimes, and more importantly, he guided the Panthers to a 12-3 mark and their first-ever trip to the MCLA national tournament. The most important game for Pitt on its way to the tourney was the upset of Buffalo – the Bulls only had one loss during the regular season – and Novotny dropped a sixer along with an assist.
Midfield – Alex Hultgren, Senior –
The Bulls were a three-headed offensive monster (with Kurt Stavdal and Tom Sudek), and Hultgren provided the most complete package out of the midfield. He was second in goals with 25 (behind Stavdal) and tied for the lead in assists (with Sudek) at 17. Buffalo would have been severely hamstrung with any of these three off the roster, but there's no way the Bulls would have come close to their 14-2 season or PCLL sweep without Hultgren.
Midfield – C.J. Jacobs, Junior – UC Santa
The credit for much of the Gauchos' national resurgence will go to the prodigal return of coach Mike Allan, and that's not unreasonable, but a lot of it has to do with the maturation of Jacobs. His numbers don't blow your mind (21g, 8a), but if you put Jacobs' accomplishments in the context of the methodical Santa Barbara offense (which produced a 13-4 record), he's second in goals and third in assists out of the midfield. He also hit those marks while consistently getting a pole.
Midfield – Spencer Robertson, Senior –
The Ducks weren't dripping with talent like they have been in year's past, but the evolution of Robertson was a vital reason Oregon was able to roll to the PNCLL auto bid. Primarily a scorer out of the midfield last year (37g, 9a), Robertson expanded his game. He still kept his nose for the net (team-leading 40 goals), but also became a gifted playmaker (team-high 32 helpers). Without the improvement in his game, the Ducks are nowhere near what they were in 2012.
Faceoff Specialist – Charlie Pantiakos, Freshman
Although they flamed out in the SELC tournament, this year was a big one for the Tigers as they not only put together a national schedule, but had the talent to beat the likes of Florida State, Colorado and New Hampshire. Pantiakos was the quiet key to that. At 6-foot-6 and 205 pounds, Pantiakos isn't built like your prototypical FOGO, but the numbers – 200-for-265; 75.5% - don't lie. Pantiakos also chipped in with a pair of goals and three assists in 16 games.
Long-stick Middie – Matt Walrath, Senior –
Walrath, who has spent the last three years dominating between the lines for the Panthers after transferring from NCAA Division III Stevens (N.J.), was closer to being Lacrosse Magazine's Preseason Player of the Year than you'd probably guess (ASU Dylan Westfall was given the honor). From the moment he showed up in Orange County – including the national semifinals in 2010 when he brought the Denver crowd to its feet with the rare LSM trifecta of goal-faceoff-win-goal in the span of about 10 seconds – he has owned the position. He put a cap on it with 12-goal, three-assist campaign along with a mind-numbing 158 ground balls.
|Without Ian Anderson (above)
patrolling the backline for Arizona State, there's no way the Sun
Devils would have survived the early season when the offense was
trying to find its groove. With Anderson holding down the defense,
ASU advanced all the way to the national semifinals.
© Cecil Copeland
Defense – Ian Anderson, Senior – Arizona
The defense just needs to hold on until the offense matures. That was the mindset for the Sun Devils this spring, and thanks to Anderson, they were able to do just that. Leading a unit that held opponents under double-digits for the first seven games of the season, Anderson gave his team some breathing room to set up their eventual run to the semifinals. The Devils have had an epic three-year run since 2010 and Anderson has been as big a reason as anyone for that success.
Defense – Wes Binder, Senior – Michigan
The rugged Spartan pole gets better every season, and this year was certainly his finest as he led Michigan State to cusp of one of the biggest upsets in tournament history before losing to top seed Cal Poly in the quarterfinals, 10-9. Binder does well getting the ball off the turf (team-leading 52 ground balls), but can also use his length (6-foot-2, 195 pounds) to give the top attackman in the country very little room to breathe.
Defense – Hayden Porter, Junior – Colorado
How do you quantify what a defenseman is able to accomplish? With Porter, it's pretty easy: 3.75. That's the amount of goals the Rams gave up on average in the four tournament games in Greenville even though their last two contests came against prolific offenses from BYU and Cal Poly. All of the CSU poles are solid, but Porter is undoubtedly the top dog (and he finished second in ground balls with 46), and could shut down any type of offensive player the MCLA has to offer.
Goalie – Brad Macnee, Junior – Colorado
This spot has been the unquestioned dominion of Arizona State's Dylan Westfall, but Macnee has moved to the fore this season. The Buffs record doesn't look so hot – they finished at 7-8 – but they were only that good because of Macnee's ability to thwart even the most prolific offenses. In six of CU's eight losses, he held the opponent to under 10 goals, and his numbers for the season (62.4 save percentage; 11.2 saves per game) stack up with anyone in the country. Macnee's efforts in the biggest games – 12 saves in a 5-4 win over ASU and 18 stops in the 11-9 triumph against BYU (the game that got the Buffs in the MCLA tourney) make him the pick here.
Player of the Year – Ted Ferrin, Brigham Young
If your memory is long enough, the rise of Ted Ferrin isn't really a surprise. Back in 2007, when Ferrin was a pre-mission rookie, he dropped a four-spot in the national title game against Oregon, helping the Cougars win their third national championship. Ferrin's second national championship last spring (when he scored three more in the finals) simply confirmed that the two years atrophying in Croatia on his "Mormon vacation" couldn't slow him down.
Missing out on a third national championship certainly stings, especially with the tools he had around him, but the numbers he posted this spring against that level of competition will go down in program – and MCLA – history.
Coach of the Year – Marc Lea, Cal Poly
The Mustangs' 21-2 record, No. 1 seed in the tournament and appearance in the MCLA championship game was a pretty fun ride. Those accomplishments were enough for Lea to take home the well-deserved MCLA-sponsored coach of the year kudos. He did one other thing that makes him my pick, as well.
He snapped a historical trend.
Cal Poly looks like a beast now, but the Mustangs have been lightweights. They've had decent seasons, won the WCLL a couple of times, and even had seven previous appearances in the MCLA tourney. Poly's record in those visits: 1-7. Other than their 13-8 win over Florida State in '06, the Mustangs have nearly played as many consolation contests as live tilts at nationals. All that changed this year with a run to the brink of the national championship, thanks to Lea.
Was it the coaching? The recruiting? Program culture? Scheduling? All of the above is the correct answer, and all are linked to Lea. He'll be tasked again next year to fill some significant holes in the Mustangs line-up, but everything's different now. Poly is no longer a lightweight, and they have a championship-caliber coach.