June 23, 2011

Coyne's All-Americans: MCLA Division I

by Jac Coyne | LaxMagazine.com | Coyne Archive | Twitter

Do you have to make the MCLA tournament to earn a spot on Jac Coyne's 12-man All-American team? Usually, but if you put together a season like Central Florida's David Drehoff, you'll get the nod.
© Larry James

The MCLA hands out 97 Division I All-America plaques – including 18 on the first team alone and five attackmen on the second team. Seems a bit much, don't you think?

The America I believe in means only the finest players are recognized for their accomplishments during the year, meaning there can be just one squad.

As such, for the second year, I've put together my own All-America team.

It consists of 12 players – I've allowed for the addition of a faceoff middie and LSM in a nod to the specialization of the game – who I think have earned the distinction

The Coyne MCLA Division I All-America Team

Attack – David Drehoff, Senior – Central Florida
Sometimes deciphering who is an All-American is easy: if your opponent knows what you are going to do, is only concentrating on you, and still can't stop you, it's a good bet you'll find your way onto this page. That's why Drehoff is here. Drehoff had five double-digit point games, 15 games with at least four goals and 12 games with at least three assists. More importantly, with Drehoff leading the way, the Knights earned a bid to the SELC tourney for the first time and finished 12-2.

Attack – Ted Ferrin, Junior – Brigham Young
From the start of the season, when he amassed 30 points in the first four games of the season, Ferrin has been a terror. That continued throughout the spring and against some of the top teams in the country – Michigan (3g, 1a), Michigan State (3, 1), Colorado (3, 2), Chapman (3, 2), Colorado State (2, 3). The domination continued at the national tournament, with Ferrin scoring four goals in the national championship game to cinch it for the Cougars.

Attack – Trevor Yealy, Senior – Michigan
Yealy managed to score about half as often (49 goals) as he did in his first three seasons when he amassed 232, but the 2011 campaign could arguably be the Pittsburgh native's finest. He was able to shed the label of being a system guy by operating off the crease more and being a ground ball hose on the faceoff wing. Despite the addition of a couple of new attackmen and the maturation of others, it was always Yealy at the point of the Wolverines offense.

Midfield – Andrew Harding, Junior – Brigham Young
One could easily argue that it was the Cougars' midfield unit that propelled Brigham Young to the national championship and Harding was the leader of that group. He had an excellent year in the scoring column, finishing with 32 goals and 17 assists, but he always seemed to produce in BYU's big games. Against Chapman (4g, 1a), Colorado State (4g), Simon Fraser (3g), Duluth (1, 1) and Colorado (1, 1), Harding was there, and he should be back in 2012, meaning the Cougars will be formidable at midfield once again.

Midfield – Johnny McKnight, Junior – Texas
The knock on Texas all year was the schedule was weak, with Florida State being the only notable win. It's a legit beef, and the Longhorns paid for it with their seed in Denver. Still, the 'Horns finished with just the one loss to Chapman, thanks to the play of McKnight, who caused all sorts of problems in the midfield with his both his athletic and shooting ability. It started against the Seminoles, when he dropped six, and continued for much of the season (he finished with 25 goals and eight assists).

Midfield – Ryan Westfall, Senior – Arizona State
Relative to the past few years, this season has been a weak year for midfielders in the MCLA. With that said, Westfall maybe the best one the association has ever seen. The numbers were down a little bit – he had 65 points this year as opposed to 86 points in both 2010 and 2008 – but Westfall may have been at his finest as he helped transform the Sun Devils from a dangerous offensive team into a defensive juggernaut. He was not only the best offensive and transition midfielder in the MCLA, but this year he was also the best short-stick d-mid. The whole package.

F/O – Scott Gelston, Senior – Colorado State
The Rams' schedule is always at the top when it comes to strength, but that didn't bother Gelston, who posted a 68.8 (172-for-250) save percentage against those teams, helping Colorado State finish with a 15-3 record and a berth in the national semifinals. Often times, a FOGO is only as good as his wing players, and that was certainly true with Gelston, but he did plenty of the dirty work, leading the Rams in ground balls, as well.

LSM – Justin Katchis, Senior – Boston College
Katchis was the best defensive player on Boston College and in the PCLL – a team and league that is defense-centric to begin with – so his inclusion here is no surprise. He was also a solid positional pole who could flip the field in a heartbeat, and was even a shooting threat once in a while. What makes Katchis a slam-dunk is his proficiency on faceoffs. Using a pole, Katchis could control a game, and he single-handedly kept the Michigan game close for three-quarters by winning 16-of-20 draws.

Defense – Harry Freid, Senior - Michigan
The Michigan offense faltered in the clutch, but the Wolverine defense was stout all season, including in the national semifinal loss when UM only allowed seven goals. Freid was the anchor of that unit, so he gets the spotlight. While prone to bursts of emotion on the field, his bite was as big as his bark as Freid was a physical presence on the backline. Much of the success the Wolverines have had over the past four years on both ends of the field has been formulaic, but Freid always stood out among a typically faceless defensive unit.

Defense – Jack Mata, Senior – Florida State
The Seminoles' style, and the SELC philosophy in general, does not typically make for fertile fields when it comes to high-end defensive players, but Mata started to change that perception last year and delivered this spring. He was excellent in FSU's upset win over Michigan State in the tournament first round and proved to be asset all year long as the 'Noles navigated their way to a 19-2 record.

Defense – Andrew Salcido, Senior – Chapman
As expected, the Panthers changed from a high-flying offensive team into a grinding, defense-led squad and Salcido was the anchor. Playing one of the stiffest schedules in the country, Chapman allowed double-digits in just five games, and three of those were against national semifinalists. Thanks to Salcido, the Panthers managed a stifling D despite a goalie corps consisting of two frosh and a sophomore.

Goalie – Dylan Westfall, Junior – Arizona State
The third of the Westfall clan came into his own this spring, and not coincidentally, the Sun Devils defense emerged as one of the best in the country. While still prone to outbursts when things aren't going well, Westfall is a game-changing goalie when he is running hot. This was never more evident than in the national semifinals when it was the youngest Westfall who was clearly the MVP in ASU's stunning triumph over Michigan. Westfall finished with a 64.7 save percentage (the MCLA's website formula for goals against average is incorrect, so that stat is not available).

Player of the Year

Trevor Yealy, Senior – Michigan
During Michigan's loss in the national semifinals, there was a play that not only showed what kind of lacrosse player Yealy was, but also how much he diversified his game over his four years in Ann Arbor. It was in the second half, and a bad turnover had just sprung an Arizona State midfielder on a transition opportunity. Yealy, playing attack, took off on a dead sprint at the Sun Devil player, finally catching him just at the top of the box at the other end of the field and threw a wrap-check that de-sticked the ASU player. Yealy snatched the ground ball, sprinted back down to the other end and calmly reset the Wolverine offense. It was a blend of speed, athletic ability, grittiness, lacrosse IQ and leadership in the confines of one play – all traits that gives Yealy the nod for Player of the Year honors.

Coach of the Year

Matt Schneck – Brigham Young
There is a laundry list of solid Coach of the Year candidates – ASU's Chris Malone, Buffalo's Ryan Crawford, Texas' Brian Myers, Michigan State's Dwayne Hicks, etc. – and I'm not prone to defaulting to the national championship coach, but there's no getting past Schneck's accomplishments this spring. Just two years after replacing an MCLA legend, the former BYU football player restructured the entire program and led it all the way to the mountaintop. He dared to institute 6 a.m. practices and other protocols that were light years away from how the program used to be run, and it paid off. Considering what Schneck has coming back next year, there's no way he'll be in the spot in 2012, but he's earned it this spring.

comments powered by Disqus

More Headlines