Nike/US Lacrosse Midwest Girls' Season Rewind
by Jonah Rosenblum | LaxMagazine.com
1. Loyola Academy (Ill.), 24-5
2. Sycamore (Ohio), 20-0
3. New Trier (Ill.), 22-1
4. Hinsdale Central (Ill.), 18-3
5. Medina (Ohio), 17-3
6. Mason (Ohio), 14-6
7. East Grand Rapids (Mich.), 18-2
8. The Blake School (Minn.), 17-2
9. Arrowhead (Wisc.), 18-2
10. MICDS (Mo.), 14-0
Midwest Player of the Year
Maggie Nick, Loyola (Ill.)
It's cliché to say that picking a Player of the Year is a difficult decision.
In this case, even picking Loyola Academy's Player of the Year is almost impossible.
On one hand, you have the freshman, Brennan Dwyer, who was not supposed to play varsity, leading the entire state of Illinois with 157 draw controls, not to mention two clutch goals late in Loyola's comeback win over Hinsdale Central (Ill.) in the state semifinals.
On the other hand, you have last year's Midwest Player of the Year, Maggie Nick, who did the usual, succeeding off the draw, scoring plenty of goals and providing senior leadership during an unusually up-and-down season for Loyola.
So who wins?
To coach John Dwyer, the choice is easy: Maggie Nick.
"She was our most valuable player, hands down," John Dwyer said.
"She did everything for us this year," Dwyer said.
Even with Brennan Dwyer taking the majority of draws, Nick excelled, picking up 120 off the circle.
She was among the state's leaders in goals, per usual.
And she provided leadership during a season of off-the-field tragedy, tough out-of-state losses, grueling road trips and numerous injuries.
"She's a really good role model on and off the field," Brennan Dwyer said. "She's always very helpful. She's so nice. She's willing to help with anything."
Nick may have saved her best work for last.
In the semifinal against Hinsdale Central, which Loyola Academy only led for four seconds, Nick notched several caused turnovers. The biggest came with the Ramblers trailing by two. It set up a fast-break score and keyed their comeback.
"It was the far end of the field. It was dark out. The lights were on," John Dwyer said. "There was a play behind the net. There's four minutes to go and we're down two. Somehow, Maggie Nick came up with the ball, and I don't know how."
In the final against New Trier (Ill.), she took to the ground.
"She had four or five ground balls in the state championship game that were difference makers for us winning the game," John Dwyer said.
And the fact that she scored only a single goal apiece in the semifinal and final?
"Those were arguably the best games that anyone in our program has ever played," John Dwyer said.
Spotlight On ...
The Sycamore (Ohio) Aviators dealt with a crowded lacrosse landscape in Ohio this season.
There was perennial Final Four combatant Upper Arlington (Ohio) – but not this season. There was a loaded Mason (Ohio) squad. A three-loss Medina (Ohio) team. And Worthington Kilbourne (Ohio), which won its final 11.
Somehow, Sycamore emerged out of the tangled heap perfect.
"We might not have as many kids going Division I to play, but we definitely have as much Division I talent as anybody else," coach Eddie Clark said.
The Aviators' 20-0 mark didn't come as a complete surprise. They've been waiting for this moment for a long time. Four years ago, a talented class came in that grew to include attacker Cassie McDowell, goalie Abby Wise and midfielders Kara Marth and Ashley Bonnoitt.
From there, it was just a matter of growth and capturing that early promise.
There were hints of it, particularly with their state finals appearance in 2013, which came as a bit of a "shock," according to Clark.
Along came 2014.
"We knew we'd be good," Clark said.
Bonnoitt and Marth were particularly good.
Marth is a pure athlete, who started every game she played for Sycamore lacrosse, according to Clark, and was also a four-year starter for Sycamore volleyball.
Bonnoitt is a two-way stud, "a phenomenal defender who can score goals."
"They're the typical jock athletes that you don't see as much anymore," Clark said.
With that type of talent, it wasn't even that hard. Sycamore cruised to a state title, winning each of its last 13 by at least six goals.
"The celebration after the state finals was very different than our other two state championships," Clark said. "It was kind of a relief, like we finally did what we were supposed to do."
It was a magical year, even past the final whistle, when senior goalie Abby Wise learned amidst the Aviators' championship celebration that she would be playing lacrosse next year – for home-state favorite Ohio State.
2014 Midwest Region Report Archive
- February 25 - Preseason Top 10/Player of the Year Watch List
- March 25
- April 1
- April 8
- April 15
- April 22
- April 29
- May 6
- May 13
- May 20
- May 27
- June 3
- June 10
- June 17
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