December 26, 2011

Stanwick is LM's Best Men's Player of 2011

by Corey McLaughlin | | Twitter

After leading the Cavaliers to an unlikely championship, Steele Stanwick edged Rob Pannell for Tewaaraton Award, and earned LM's title as Best Men's Player of 2011.
© Greg Shemitz

Stanwick or Pannell? Pannell or Stanwick? Talk to coaches, and they would tell you it's a no-lose debate; they would love to have either one. But which one would they want first? Ah, a much harder question to answer.

Rob Pannell has unquestionable talent, produced the most impressive numbers in 2011, and was a game planning nightmare for opponents. The bulldog attackman led the nation in points per game (5.24), half a goal more per game than anyone else, and led Cornell to the No. 2 overall seed for the NCAA tournament. For his efforts, the USILA named him its Player of the Year.

But as Pannell even told Lacrosse Magazine in May, "I think Steele has the trophy that everyone wants," meaning the national championship one. (Stanwick also ended up with the Tewaaraton Award.)

The silky smooth Stanwick played an enormous role in Virginia's unlikely championship run, which included a head-to-head win over Pannell's Big Red in the NCAA quarterfinals. In general, the offensive focus shifted to Stanwick's area behind the cage after the dismissals of Rhamel and Shamel Bratton.

"The ball goes through his hands every possession, and nobody minds," Cavaliers coach Dom Starsia said.

Stanwick accounted for nearly 20 percent of Virginia's offense, and he scored 21 points in the NCAA tournament. He finished with 32 goals and 38 assists. He did it all after missing five weeks of practice midseason because a calf injury.

Stanwick also nursed a sprained foot, injured in March, until the final day of the season. He would never take credit for the Cavaliers' success, deferring instead to the team concept, and he downplayed his injuries. But he gets his due here as LM's Best Men's Player of 2011.

Besides, Stanwick and Pannell can battle it out again this spring as seniors. Fan Vote

Steele Stanwick, Virginia

Paul Rabil, Cannons/Stealth

Rob Pannell, Cornell

Brodie Merrill, Nationals/Rush

A version of this article appears in the December issue of Lacrosse Magazine as part of LM"s "Best of Lacrosse 2011" package. Don't get the mag? Join US Lacrosse and its 350,000-plus members today to start your monthly subscription.

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