April 30, 2013

Sheehan: Ferris' Gutsy Moment; Tewaaraton Watch

by Sheehan Stanwick Burch | LaxMagazine.com

A-10 Offensive Player of the Year Katie Ferris received an IV before Sunday's conference championship game against Duquesne, and gutted out a performance that opened up opportunities for teammates.
© UMass Athletics

This weekend we saw the first six teams punch their ticket to the 2013 NCAA Division I women's tournament.

Maryland (ACC), UMass (Atlantic 10), Jacksonville (Atlantic Sun), High Point (Big South), Monmouth (NEC) and Navy (Patriot) all secured their spot in the field of 26. No big surprises on many of these outcomes, which is good news for all those bubble teams that are in need of some help from others.

I was on the call for the A-10 championship on Sunday, which was held on the campus of UMass. Duquesne battled in the first half and went into the halftime at a in a virtual stalemate with UMass, trailing 5-4. UMass opened up the final stanza with a six-goal run and dominated possession to keep the Dukes at bay, and UMass won its fifth straight Atlantic 10 title with a final score of 14-7.

The A-10 Offensive Player of the Year, UMass's Katie Ferris did not play much in the semifinal win over Temple as she was "feeling under the weather" and coach Angela McMahon thought it would be best to rest her.

As we were watching the teams warm up on Sunday, however, we were informed that Ferris was over at the university's health services getting an IV and if she made it back in time she would play. Sure enough, Ferris was back before the game started and inserted herself in the starting lineup. Although she was not a major factor, she did occupy one of Duquesne's top defenders, Aubrey Green, who face-guarded Ferris. Other UMass players shined. Sam Rush finished with six goals and one assist in the title game, and was named the tournament's most outstanding player. Cori Murray finished Sunday with four goals and two assists.

The remaining seven conference championships will be decided this weekend with AQ's being awarded in the America East, ALC, Big East, CAA, Ivy League, MAAC and MPSF.

Tewaaraton Watch

This past Friday the 25 nominees for the Tewaaraton Award were announced. Do I agree with every pick? No. However, I do think the final candidate is on this list. The Tewaaraton should be awarded to a player based on a full season of work. With conference and NCAA tournaments still on the horizon, the winner will ultimately emerge, as we watch some of the best in women's lacrosse put their teams on their back and seemingly will their teams deep into the NCAA tournament.

My final five:

Katie Schwarzmann, Maryland, Sr. M
The reigning Tewaaraton Award winner, and the two-time ACC player of the year, looks to be the front-runner for the trophy in 2013. Schwarzmann showed her dominance this weekend in the ACC tournament, with three goals, five assists, six ground balls, four draw controls and two caused turnovers in two games. Her ability to be a complete end-to-end, do-it-all player separates her from the rest of the pack. She has 51 goals (second on Maryland behind Alex Aust), 23 assists (second behind Aust), 33 ground balls (most on the team), 37 draw controls (second on the team behind Taylor Cummings) and 16 caused turnovers this year (tied with Aust and Cummings for team lead).

Alex Aust, Maryland, Sr. A
Aust has had another stellar year for the Terps, leading the charge for the nation's top-ranked team with 108 points on 60 goals and 48 assists. Aust is an excellent feeder and is shooting a stellar 60 percent.

Becca Block, Syracuse, Sr. D
Block anchors the Syracuse defense and is a legitimate one-woman clear. Her speed is shocking, as is her knack for caused turnovers. She leads the Orange in draw, ground ball and caused turnover categories. With only seven points on the season, I fear she may not make the final cut because her offensive output doesn't compare to other potential finalists. Only time will tell. They say defense wins championships. So, maybe it can also win the Tewaaraton. Rachael Becker DeCecco, who won back-to-back NCAA titles at Princeton, became the first and only defender, man or woman, to win college lacrosse's most prestigious award in 2003.

Kitty Cullen, Florida, Sr. A
Mark my words that Florida will have at least one member in the final five at the end of this season. To be honest, I am not positive who that player will be. At this point the nod goes to Kitty Cullen. She leads the team with 40 goals and 16 assists. Florida's senior class was the first recruiting class and it has been well documented that they came to Gainesville to win a national championship. The Gators have a strong senior class and many have the ability to lead the way, but Cullen seems to be the head of the class.

Alyssa Murray, Syracuse, Jr. A
Murray has recently responded to adversity and taken more of a leadership role for the Orange since Syracuse senior Michelle Tumolo went down with an ACL injury two weeks ago. In the four games since that injury, Murray has racked up 23 points and emerged as the leader of Syracuse's attack. She has 83 points on the season and this weekend will be put on a huge stage during the Big East tournament, as the Orange look to continue their Big East dominance.

The next five:

Brittany Dashiell, Florida, Sr. M
Erin Fitzgerald, Northwestern, Sr. M/A
Shannon Gilroy, Florida, So. M
Kara Cannizzaro, North Carolina, Sr. M
Demmianne Cook, Stony Brook, Sr. M

CBS Sports Network women's lacrosse analyst and 2001 Tewaaraton Award finalist Sheehan Stanwick Burch provides a column for LaxMagazine.com every Tuesday throughout the Division I women's college season. Follow Sheehan on Twitter @StanwickBurch. She will call the Big East women's championship game on Sunday for CBS.

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