30 in 30: Who are the Way Early Tewaaraton Candidates?
|Blue Devils senior Jordan Wolf
will lead a Duke attack line that brings back fellow starters Josh
Dionne and Case Matheis.
© Kevin P. Tucker
By now — the final week of LaxMagazine.com’s “30 in 30” series — most teams have wrapped up fall practices and scrimmages. The hay, as they say, is in the barn. Coaches are breaking down tape and players are largely hitting the weight room to finish out the fall semester.
Now it’s time to focus more on the individuals, in a way too early, fall edition of Tewaaraton Watch. The season is still a little more than three months away, but a solid field is already set.
Leaders in the clubhouse
1. Lyle Thompson, Albany, Jr.
Thompson finished last year with 113 points, one shy of the NCAA Division I single-season record. He was one of five Tewaaraton finalists, and the first ever Native American finalist for the Native American-inspired award. He returns on an Albany attack line with older brother, Miles, and cousin, Ty. The trio combined for 254 points last season, more than the total for 40 other Division I men’s teams. It’s unwise to predict a slow down as the Thompsons appeared to pick up right where they left off this fall. Plus, there will be a sense of urgency and desire to dive deeper into the NCAA tournament than Albany did last year with a first-round loss to Denver. This is the last season for the Thompsons to play together for the Great Danes.
2. Tom Schreiber, Princeton, Sr.
Schreiber is the only other Tewaaraton Award finalist from 2013 returning for another collegiate season. The dynamic midfielder had 28 goals and 32 assists a season ago, but the Tigers didn’t make the NCAA tournament. This year they should contend for the Ivy League title, and more, with a solid offensive core around Schreiber and a defense that now has some continuity, although still looking for an answer in goal. It's fun to watch Schreiber’s uncanny feeding ability form the midfield, a byproduct of excellent field vision.
3. Jordan Wolf, Duke, Sr.
He was perhaps overlooked a tad because of the gargantuan point totals put up by Thompson, Cornell’s Rob Pannell and St. John’s attackman Kieran McArdle (see below) a year ago, but Wolf is one of the premier attackman in the game for the defending national champion. He finished with 57 goals and 28 assists, leading the Blue Devils in both categories, and showed a complete game last championship weekend, pumping in eight goals and three assists in two games. His running buddies on attack, Josh Dionne and Case Matheis, both return. Wolf has regularly darted around and past All-American defensemen throughout his career.
4. Kieran McArdle, St. John’s,
Had St. John’s made the NCAA tournament a season ago, McArdle very well could have been a Tewaaraton finalist. He finished second in the nation in points per game with 6.54, only behind Thompson’s 6.65 average. He’s a feeder and scorer, with 36 goals and 49 assists last year. McArdle’s sidekick, attackman Kevin Cernuto (32 goals, 16 assists in 2013), is also back for a senior season. The Red Storm may have an easier path to the NCAA tournament with Notre Dame and Syracuse out of the way in the Big East, having moved to the ACC, but still Denver looms large in its first year in the conference. If McArdle can grab more national attention, he’ll be in the Tewaaraton conversation come May.
5. Wesley Berg, Denver, Jr.
In some ways, Wesley Berg has already arrived. He had 12 goals through the first two rounds of last year’s NCAA tournament to pull within range of the Division I tournament record of 17 set by Loyola’s Eric Lusby in 2012. But Berg was shut out in a 9-8 semifinal loss to Syracuse. That was only game the second game all year Berg didn’t finish with at least one point. He finished with 72 of those last season, including nine during a memorable eight-goal outburst in a 19-14 first-round tournament win over the Thompsons and Albany. Berg, a Canadian, will be the centerpiece of the Pioneers offense and Denver figures to be in the running for another deep NCAA run.
Easily within striking distance
6. Joey Sankey, North Carolina, Jr.
North Carolina coach Joe Breschi said this fall that Sankey is developing as the Tar Heels’ leader on offense. Whoever leads that group — a la Marcus Holman in the past — will be at the forefront of the national consciousness, and rightfully so. Sankey is a jitterbug attackman.
7. Mark Cockerton, Virginia, Sr.
Cockerton’s super-productive campaign a season ago — 49 goals and seven assists — was overshadowed by the fact that Virginia missed the NCAA tournament. Cockerton’s 3.50 goals per game barely trailed Cornell’s Steve Mock (3.53) for the nation’s best average. The Cavaliers have a load of talent all over the field and other Tewaaraton candidates from the team could emerge, but Cockerton is a good one to start with.
8. Matt Kavanagh, Notre Dame, So.
The defense has been credited for most of the Fighting Irish’s success in recent years, but Notre Dame has a special offensive talent currently in Kavanagh, a crafty and tough-as-nails attackman. He, along with the Irish’s 10-man ride, brought Notre Dame back from the brink of NCAA tournament extinction in the first round against Detroit Mercy last season. Kavanagh had four goals in the 9-7 win, and a team-high 48 points for the season. He was first-team All-Big East.
9. Austin Kaut, Penn State, Sr.
History suggests non-offensive players have a tough time in the Tewaaraton race, as this list generally reflects, but Kaut should have as good a case as any. He’s a returning first-team All-American for an NCAA tournament team and the nation’s second-best defense, statistically, last year. All starters and key components on that unit return.
10. Niko Amato, Maryland, Sr.
Amato arrived in College Park a student of former Terps and Team USA great, Hall of Famer goalie Brian Dougherty, and Amato earned a starting role as a freshman. Hard to believe he’s now a senior. With Maryland potentially relying on many freshmen on offense, the Terps will look to their defense, back-boned by Amato, for strength early in the season. It’s not out of the question that Amato comes up with some huge performances in big ACC matchups and reminds observers that he’s the guy who played in two national championship games the first two years of his collegiate career.
Also keep an eye on…
Right on the bubble of the top 10:
11. Justin Ward, Loyola, Sr.
12. Wells Stanwick, Johns Hopkins, Jr. A
13. Brandon Mangan, Yale, Sr. A
14. Joe Fletcher, Loyola, Sr. D
15. Brendan Fowler, Duke, Sr. FO
16. Joe LoCascio, Villanova, Sr. LSM
17. Derek Maltz, Syracuse, Sr. A
18. Jesse King, Ohio State, Jr. M
19. Kevin Massa, Bryant, Jr. FO
20. Miles Thompson, Albany, Sr. A
Who's your early Tewaaraton favorite for
2014? Did we miss any candidates? Leave a comment below or on our
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