October 16, 2013

Best Of Lacrosse - Breakthrough Player of the Year Finalists

by Sean Burns | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

Stepping up to the next level is something that happens at some point in every great player's career, often several times. There's the moment one becomes a great high school player after acclimiating to that level. Same with college, same with professionals - key moments lurk around the corner for anyone who is bold enough to snatch up the opportunity, and these five finalists did that this year and more.

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Best Individual Breakthrough Finalists

Kara Cannizarro, North Carolina

A second-team IWLCA All-America selection as a junior, Cannizaro was certainly not an unknown going into the season, but she blew up and helped lead the Tar Heels to their first-ever NCAA title, leading the team in goals, assists, points, game-winning goals, ground balls and caused turnovers. The monster year earned the Cazenovia, N.Y. native first-team All-America status from the IWLCA and the Honda Award, though she lost the Tewaaraton to Maryland's Katie Schwarzmann. She was also a finalist for the ESPY Award for women's college athlete of the year.

Eric Law, Denver University/Denver Outlaws

A deadly finisher, Law helped lead Denver to the NCAA semifinals, scoring the game-winner in the quarterfinals against North Carolina. He finished his Pioneers career ranked third in points in the school's Division I record book, despite playing his first collegiate year at Salisbury. After graduation, Law fit right in with the prolific Outlaws squad, finishing third among MLL rookies with 24 goals and setting a team record with a .632 shooting percentage. In the playoff loss to Charlotte, Law scored nine goals, including six of the first seven for Denver.

JoJo Marasco, Syracuse University/New York Lizards

Wearing the fabled No. 22 for Syracuse, Marasco had been a very good player for his first three years, netting 89 points and earning third-team All-American honors as a sophomore after a 23 goal, 18 assist year. This spring, however, Marasco broke out, breaking Paul Gait's single-season assist record for a Orange midfielder with 41 and earning Big East Midfielder of the Year honors and a trip to Washington D.C. as a Tewaaraton finalist. He had a solid finish to his summer with the New York Lizards, and was a last-minute add to the US Men's National Team tryout roster, making it through to the current training roster with hopes for playing in Denver next summer.

Drew Snider, Denver Outlaws

The 'Seattle Slinger' came into his own in his second MLL season, scoring 31 times with 46 points – both of which put him in the league's top 10 – and earning the league's Most Improved Player award this summer. His numbers were an improvement of 21 goals and 31 points from his rookie campaign in 2012 after helping lead Maryland to the NCAA finals.

Dillon Ward, Bellarmine

Fans of the Canadian Junior A league are no strangers to Ward's talent – he won Minto Cup titles with the Orangeville Northmen in 2009, '09 and '12 and was named the Robert Melville Memorial Award as Jr. A Outstanding Goalie in '08, '09 and '11. But he hadn't made a splash in the field game until this spring, leading Division I with a .662 saves percentage and finishing sixth in GAA (7.68) to earn ECAC Goalie of the Year honors and third-team All American honors for Bellarmine. Drafted by Ohio, Ward was traded to Hamilton where he served as Brett Queener's primary backup for the second half of the season and earned a tryout shot with Team Canada for next year's FIL World Championships.

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