October 18, 2011

Fan Polls: Best Men's Player, Coach and Performance of 2011

by Corey McLaughlin | LaxMagazine.com | Best of 2011 Vote: Women's Player, Coach, Performance | Game, Upset, Breakthrough

Lacrosse Magazine's annual "Best of Lacrosse" edition is set to hit US Lacrosse members' mailboxes in December. We've narrowed our categories down to four finalists each. LM is conducting a fan poll to help shape the debate from here.

Who was the best men's lacrosse player, coach and performer of 2011?

These polls will be pulled Thursday, Oct. 27 at 2 p.m. Eastern. Results will be published in the December issue of LM, alongside our picks.
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BEST MEN'S PLAYER

Voting has closed. Thanks for your participation and check out December's Lacrosse Magazine for the results.

Brodie Merrill, Hamilton Nationals/Edmonton Rush
Somehow we take it for granted that one of the best players of all-time is playing in front us in his prime. Merrill won an unprecedented sixth-straight MLL Defensive Player of the Year award in August for his season with the Hamilton Nationals. In the NLL, he was a second-team All-Pro for the Edmonton Rush. Merrill was traded to Philadelphia this offseason in a blockbuster six-player deal in which the Wings also gave up three-first round draft picks to get him.

Rob Pannell, Cornell
In addition to being named the USILA Player of the Year, Pannell also repeated as the Jack Turnbull Award winner as the Division I national attackman of the year. And he put up some impressive numbers. He led the nation in points per game (5.24), while ranking second overall in assists per game (2.76), and 10th overall in goals per game (2.47). And, oh yeah, he was nominated for an ESPY in the category of Best Male College Athlete, and will carry the nation's longest active point streak (52 games) into the spring.

Paul Rabil, Boston Cannons/Washington Stealth
Rabil added an MLL title to his overflowing resume, becoming one of the few players to have won pro outdoor, pro indoor, NCAA and world championships as a player. He finished second in the MLL in scoring with 49 points (he was originally first, but a stat-keeping error was found) and was part of an NLL finalist with the Stealth.

Steele Stanwick, Virginia
"The ball goes through his hands every possession, and nobody minds," Virginia coach Dom Starsia said two days before Virginia capped an unlikely national championship run by beating Maryland. Stanwick was the unquestioned leader of the Cavaliers offense down the stretch. He accounted for 19.9 percent of the team's offense and finished with 32 goals and 38 assists, and worked well Virginia's array of midfielders. He edged Rob Pannell for the Tewaaraton, somewhat of an incredible feat considering Stanwick was off the radar for the award midseason with Virginia floundering and Stanwick banged up with foot and calf injuries.


BEST MEN'S COACH

Voting has closed. Thanks for your participation and check out December's Lacrosse Magazine for the results.

Bill Daye, Boston Cannons
Daye, a Cannons original as a goalie in 2001, led the franchise to its first MLL championship in August after failed attempts in nine previous playoff years for Boston. The Cannons won the MLL regular season title, beat the Chesapeake Bayhawks in Hurricane Irena in the semifinals and edged the Hamilton Nationals, 10-9, in the championship game the next days. About five weeks after the season, Daye decided to step down as head coach to spend more time with his family, he said.

Dave Pym, Calgary Roughnecks
It's one thing to coach guys through a losing streak, but what about if you don't know if your game is going to be played that weekend because of the financial state of the team. Pym had to lead the Calgary Roughnecks through those circumstances in 2011. Former owner Brad Banister admitted to trouble paying players and the team was only able to make a road trip to Philadelphia because of an anonymous private donation. Through it all, Calgary won the NLL West Division regular season title, and reached the Western Division finals. The Roughnecks' Jeff Shattler was named league MVP and Curtis Dickson was rookie of the year.

Dom Starsia, Virginia
There was a coaching job to be done on the field — injuries forced UVa into a zone defense, and the dismissal of the Bratton twins put more possession time in Steele Stanwick's stick. There was coaching to be done off the field, too. The Brattons dismissal could have sent the team in one of two directions, and there were the lingering thoughts about the upcoming trial of former men's player George Huguely. At one point the Cavaliers were 8-5 and looking like the bottom team in the ACC, but they finished strong and won Virginia's fourth national championship.

Bill Tierney, Denver
If, before the season, somebody said Denver would be in the final four, you likely would have taken that bet. Bill Tierney may have, too. But my midseason, after a strong start and a win over Duke, Tierney realized the potential of the 2011 Pioneers. By late in the season, Tierney said Denver was a no doubt final four contender. Many thought he could elevate the program to that level eventually, but few thought it would happen this quickly, in Tierney's second year in Colorado. Denver went 15-3, hosted the first NCAA tournament game west of the Mississippi and beat Villanova in it, ousted Johns Hopkins in the quarterfinals before running into eventual champ Virginia in Baltimore at the final four.

Voting has closed. Thanks for your participation and check out December's Lacrosse Magazine for the results.


BEST MEN'S PERFORMANCE

Grant Catalino, Rochester Rattlers
The MLL rookie from Maryland became the fifth player in league history to score a league-record nine goals in a game in a 19-16 win over the Hamilton Nationals. Catalino outdueled fellow rookie and eventual MLL rookie of the year Jeremy Boltus, who scored a team-record seven goals for Hamilton in a losing effort.

Austin Kaut, Penn State
Kaut, a true freshman, made 25 saves for the Nittany Lions in an 8-7 upset win over No. 10 UMass in Jeff Trambroni's first season as coach with Penn State.

Steele Stanwick, Virginia
Stanwick's catapulted into the Tewaaraton Award race with a three-goal, five-assist game in seventh-seeded Virginia's 13-12 win over Bucknell in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Stanwick assisted on Matt White's overtime winner, tying a career best with eight points.

Bob Watson, Toronto Rock
In the last game of his pro lacrosse career, the Toronto Rock goaltender earned MVP honors after stopping 46 shots in the Rock's 8-7 win over the Washington for the NLL's Champion's Cup. Watson rode off into the sunset and retired. He was the lone inductee into the NLL's 2011 Hall of Fame class.


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