December 26, 2011

Northwestern's Smith Earns LM Best Women's Player of 2011 Honors

by Clare Lochary |

Shannon Smith compiled a handful of special moments during the 2011 season.
© Jim Cowsert

The Shanimal did it all in 2011. When the young Wildcats took the field this year, stung by the 2010 NCAA championship game loss to Maryland, they needed a leader.

"I thought that I had to put everything out there every day at practice," Smith said. "I had to put everything on the line out there, to show my teammates that I'm putting everything out there, and it's OK for them to do the same."

Smith as a junior stepped up and had the highest-scoring single season (86 goals) in Northwestern history. She led the nation in both goals and goals per game (5.57). She won the Tewaaraton Award, the IWLCA Division I Attacker of the Year award, an NCAA championship and the Suzy Favor Award, which goes to the top Big 10 female athlete in all sports.

Smith's 2011 season will be best remembered for the game-winning goal she scored against North Carolina in the NCAA semifinals before a worshipful crowd of more than 8,000 fans on her native Long Island. But it was one of many big moments for the game's biggest star. When Northwestern played the Tar Heels during the regular season, Smith scored four goals in an 8-7 overtime win.

She had a hat trick, including the go-ahead goal, late in a 12-10 win over Duke. She tied her career best with a seven-goal performance in a 12-11 win over Stanford. She led the team with five goals in the ALC championship game, lifting the Wildcats to a 10-9 victory over Florida. Finally, in Northwestern's redemptive 8-7 NCAA championship game victory over Maryland, she scored four goals.

And she still has one more season of college lacrosse left to play. Fan Vote

Cortney Fortunato, Northport (N.Y.)/U.S. U19 Team

Just a sophomore, she got the game-winner on a free position in Northport's 12-11 OT victory over Pittsford in the Class A state championship. Then she led the U.S. to the FIL U19 women's world championship as the youngest player on the team with 25 goals and 34 points.

Claire Petersen, Adelphi
The two-time IWCLA Division II Attacker of the Year had 187 points and 125 assists during the 2011 season, setting NCAA records for all divisions in both categories. All those points helped to boost the Panthers to a perfect 20-0 record and their third straight NCAA title. She has since transferred to Division I Stony Brook.

Shannon Smith, Northwestern
She put the team on her shoulders after rare back-to-back losses to Florida and Northwestern in April. "I took those two losses personally," Smith said. "I wasn't going to be the one to let my teammates down."

Sarah Mollison, Maryland
The petite Australian known as "Smalls" to teammates rolled her defenders for 56 goals and 45 assists and won ACC Player of the Year honors. Said Navy coach Cindy Timchal after Mollison put up eight goals in Maryland's 19-6 win in the NCAA tournament: "It's as if she's mastered every inch of the crease."

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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