February 27, 2014

Handicapping the Early Women's Tewaaraton Award Race

by Sean Burns | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

LM's Preseason Player of the Year for women's division I, Alyssa Murray has shown that she will likely be in the Tewaaraton conversation at the end of the season. (Greg Wall)

The Tewaaraton Foundation on Thursday night at a special ceremony in New York announced the 50 men's and 50 women's players named to the season-starting Tewaaraton Award watch lists. From these lists, additions will be made March 20 and April 10 and 25 men's and women's nominees will be named April 24. Five finalists will be announced May 8 and be invited to the Tewaaraton ceremony May 29 in Washington, D.C.

Here's an early look at how the women's race stands as the season really begins to heat up with March just two days away, continuing Clare Lochary's work from the fall's 30-in-30 series on the subject.

Related: Corey McLaughlin Handicaps the Men's Race

Leaders in the clubhouse

Alyssa Murray, Syracuse, Sr., A

There isn't much that the Syracuse senior and Lacrosse Magazine preseason #LaxPOY choice Murray doesn't bring to her team, which stands at 5-0 after Wednesday's close win over Boston College. A finalist for the Tewaaraton a year ago after scoring 104 points as a junior for the NCAA semifinalists, Murray has 24 points in five games so far this spring. Her biggest threat may be teammate Kayla Treanor, but we'll get to her a little further down the post.

Taylor Cummings, Maryland, So., M

The Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Year as a freshman last spring, Cummings brings blazing speed to the midfield for the Terrapins who figure to be hungry after last year's triple-overtime loss to North Carolina in the NCAA final. As Clare Lochary pointed out in the fall look at Tewaaraton candidates, her status as a do-everything midfielder could help her case against the glut of attackers that make up this year's marquee (at least thus far). Leading the Terrapins in both goals (16) and assists (7) through five games doesn't hurt her stature at this point either.

Shannon Gilroy, Florida, Jr. A

With a ton of graduation losses, Florida needed Gilroy to step up in 2014, and so far she has answered the bell with gusto, potting 24 goals and four assists in five games, a cool average of 5.6, while also leading the team with 31 draw controls, more than double her closest teammate. While Florida has dominated in its four wins (averaging just shy of 20 goals in wins over Jacksonville, High Point, James Madison and Cincinnati), Gilroy was just as effective in the 20-8 loss against North Carolina, scoring four and assisting another to play a role in all but three scores on the day.

Abbey Friend, North Carolina, Sr., A

If the graduation of Tewaaraton finalist Kara Cannizzaro wasn't going to put enough of the offensive responsibility on Friend this spring, the loss of midfielder Brittney Coppa in January to an ACL injury threw another log on that proverbial fire. So far, Friend has been more than up to the task with a team-leading 19 goals and five assists in four games, scoring on nearly 70 percent of her shots. The immediate impact of freshman linemate Sydney Holman (11 goals, 11 assists) has also helped ease the burden, but the senior has been the straw that stirs the drink for Jenny Levy's team so far.

Barb Sullivan, Notre Dame, Jr., D

For all the headlines that touted freshman Cortney Fortunato has (and probably will) generate, the Irish will most likely go as far as Sullivan can lead them in their first ACC season. So far, Sullivan is tied with Fortunato for the team lead with six draw controls in two games after setting a team record with 67 last spring. If she can combine her skills as a lockdown defender (34 caused turnovers last year) and Notre Dame makes noise in the ultra-tough ACC, Sullivan could be an invitee to the final table.

Right on the cusp

Kayla Treanor, Syracuse, So., A

The only reason she's not on the presumptive finalist rundown above is that she's got a senior teammate 'ahead' of her. Will it matter if she keeps the blazing pace she's put down thus far this spring, leading the Orange in both goals (18) and assists (14)?

Kelsey Duryea, Duke, So., G

Goalies — particularly in the women's game — have never drawn a ton of headlines, but Duryea was a second-team All-American a year ago and stopped a stellar 50.7 percent of shots she saw as a freshman. She's a hair behind that pace so far at 48.4 percent through four games for the 3-1 Blue Devils, but don't be surprised if she heats up as the temperatures do.

Covie Stanwick, Boston College, Jr. A

Yes, she's a Stanwick, and that name is as synonymous with Tewaaraton as any other, with brother Steele winning the men's 2011 award, but this is about her game, not her family. Stanwick leads the Eagles, who have started strong at 3-1 with a win over Notre Dame and a close loss against No. 3 Syracuse, with 17 points on nine goals and eight assists. Teammate Mikaela Rix (13 goals, three assists) is also right there in the running.

Marlee Paton, Loyola, Sr. A/M

Ten points (five goals, five assists) in two wins to start the season for Loyola against Virginia and Princeton is a good case to make for the Australian National Team member. But the fact that the Greyhounds scored ten goals below their season average in the game she missed on Wednesday against Johns Hopkins is a better one.

The small-college dark horse

Jackie Sileo, LIU Post, Sr. A

Every year, a handful of small college players make the cut, but thus far none have made it all the way to the finals, let alone won the whole thing. Sileo has been a monster for the Pioneers on Long Island and could set some records that will be difficult to catch. Maybe that will vault her into that final five if she keeps the pace her senior year.

Also keep an eye on...

Any of these players could easily be in the Top 10 right now and could be finalists. (Sorted in alphabetical order)

Casey Bocklet, Virginia, Jr. A
Taylor D'Amore, Johns Hopkins, Sr. A
Katie Ferris, Massachusetts, Jr. A
Lauren Kahn, Connecticut, Sr. M
Kelly Leichner, Penn State, Jr. M
Maggie McCormick, Penn State, Jr. A
Erin McMunn, Princeton, Jr. A
Mikaela Rix, Boston College, Jr. M
Taryn VanThof, Loyola, Jr. M
Taylor Virden, Duke, Sr. D

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