#LMRanks Best Bets: Year-End Individual Awards (WD1)
|Delayed a year by injury from taking over the Wildcats' offense, Kara Mupo could be a force for Northwestern this year. (Cecil Copeland)|
Lacrosse is a team game, but individual year-end awards are an annual part of the season.Lacrosse Magazine projects who will take top NCAA Division I women's honors come May, including rookie of the year and breakout player, which aren't handed out officially.
Alyssa Murray, Syracuse
People want to point to Kayla Treanor's explosive freshman season, but she might not nearly have piled up such impressive stats without Murray running the show on attack. Syracuse's dynamic offense runs through the Tewaaraton Award finalist.
Attacker of the Year
Alyssa Murray, Syracuse
How will the point-behind attacker adjust to the new NCAA rules allowing defenders in the crease? She can make opponents pay as a dodger (64 goals) or feeder (40 assists), and coach Gary Gait knows a thing or two about exploiting overaggressive 1-on-1 defenders.
Midfielder of the Year
Taylor Cummings, Maryland
Meet the new Katie Schwarzmann, only Cummings also can take over a game as a draw specialist. Since 2000, just three players have earned IWLCA first-team All-American honors as freshmen. Two of them — Cummings and Treanor — will make a serious push for the Tewaaraton Award this year.
Defender of the Year
Sloane Serpe, North Carolina
The Tar Heels' pantheon of elite defenders includes three players—Amber Falcone, Jenn Russell and Kristen Carr—who recently won a World Cup gold medal with the U.S. national team. North Carolina has had a top-10 scoring defense the last four years. Expect that trend to continue with Serpe.
Kelly Award (Most Outstanding Goalie)
Kelsey Duryea, Duke
Duryea was the first goalie in Duke history to make All-American as a freshman. The Blue Devils inserted at halftime in their fifth game, against Maryland, and she never looked back. This, after missing her first fall ball with a lingering high school injury. "Our No. 1 goal is to keep her healthy," coach Kerstin Kimel said.
Rookie of the Year
Cortney Fortunato, Notre Dame
Coveted since she burst onto the scene in eighth grade, Fortunato, who has experience with both the U.S. U19 and senior national teams, was already playing at an elite level in the fall. "She's a game-changer," Irish coach Christine Halfpenny said. "She's really changed the way we train, because of her skill level. When you have that skill level, that creativity, you see the game differently."
Kara Mupo, Northwestern
Mupo was the one of the nation's top recruits coming out of Rocky Point (N.Y.). She had 55 goals in her first two seasons as a complementary scorer and was expected to take over the Wildcats' offense in 2013 before a season-ending injury in their third game. If healthy, she could put up eye-popping numbers on an otherwise inexperienced offense.
Lacrosse Magazine will continue its 2014 college lacrosse preview throughout January and into February, with team-by-team breakdowns of the top teams in NCAA Division I, II and III men's and women's lacrosse. Follow the countdown at LaxMagazine.com/LMRanks and on twitter at #LMRanks.