The Virginia men's lacrosse team has advanced to its fourth straight Final Four weekend behind the all-around solid game of junior attackman Steele Stanwick. Joining Virginia are Denver, Maryland and Duke, but there's one thing noticeably absent here - Stanwick is the only Tewaaraton Trophy finalist that is still competing this weekend for a national championship.
The Tewaaraton Trophy is awarded to the nation's top college lacrosse player. Three of the other finalists - John Galloway (Syracuse), Rob Pannell (Cornell) and Joel White (Syracuse) - were eliminated last weekend, while Jeremy Boltus (Army) did not make the tournament.
Of course, reaching the Final Four does not a Tewaaraton Trophy winner make. But Stanwick's numbers are nothing short of outstanding, with 29 goals and 35 assists for 64 points on the season. Remember also that Stanwick did not play in the regular season game against Duke, and was limited during practice in the weeks to follow.
As Patrick Stevens points out, the Baltimore, Md. native already has 15 points (six goals, nine assists) so far in the tournament, just seven points off former Cavalier Matt Ward's Virginia record for points in the tournament. Ward had four games to rack up points, whereas Stanwick thus far has only had two.
Syracuse's well-roundedness at the end of the day may hurt Galloway and White's chances of the receiving the award. A longstick midfielder, White was also named a 2010 finalist and is the school's career leader in points (28) and goals (18) as a defensive player. Galloway is just the second goalie ever to be named a finalist and is the NCAA's career leader in wins (58). Galloway held Virginia to a then-season low 10 goals when the two teams met earlier this year as the No. 1 teams in the country.
Army's Boltus put together 69 points on the season, averaging 4.67 points per game. At the end of the day, though, color me shocked if Boltus could pick up the hardware without a postseason appearance by his team, a feat that has never been accomplished.
The frontrunner for the award is Cornell's Rob Pannell, who averages 5.24 points per game with 42 goals and 47 assists for 89 points on the season. Pannell also has one game winner (Stanwick has two) and 34 groundballs (Stanwick has 41) to his name.
Head-to-head, the Cavaliers came out victorious over Cornell twice this season: 11-9 on March 12 at the Face Off Classic, and last weekend 13-9 in the NCAA Quarterfinals. Pannell was held to below his season average points both times (4 and 3, respectively).
Looking at the entire season's body of work, Pannell probably comes out on top as the leading candidate for the trophy. But Stanwick has at least one more game to best the Big Red attackman.
Virginia and Syracuse are the only two schools to have had two Tewaaraton Trophy winners. Ward won the award in 2007 en route to an undefeated season and a national championship, while midfielder Chris Rotelli won it in 2003 en route to a national championship.
The 11th annual Tewaaraton Award will be presented on June 2, 2011.