Looking Back At 2007

Some of the best players and moments in college lacrosse this season


May 30, 2007

By Josh Herwitt

CSTV.com

 

JOSH HERWITT
Josh is CSTV.com's men's basketball editor and writes a weekly national column.
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With Johns Hopkins claiming its ninth national championship on Memorial Day earlier this week, the college lacrosse season officially came to an end as the Blue Jays claimed an astonishing 12-11 win over top-seeded Duke in a thrilling title game that saw two teams fight and scrap to the finish.

 

So with another year in the books, there's still some time to reflect on the 2007 season before next spring brings back more of the spectacular goals, acrobatic saves and compelling moments that college lacrosse fans witnessed for the last three months.

 

These were some of the best players and moments over the season.

 

Attackman of the Year - Matt Danowski, Duke

 

While the senior out of Farmingdale, N.Y., couldn't complete his dream of hoisting up a national championship trophy, Danowski sure was one highlight reel after another this season.

 

The Blue Devils' captain had all the offensive tools to make Duke an explosive offensive force. His 96 points on 44 goals and 52 assists this season made Danowski Duke's new all-time point leader with a total of 256 -- not bad for a guy that only made half of his junior campaign.

 

And although he was held to just two points in the title game against the Blue Jays, Danowski was a major reason why the Blue Devils were able to capture the ACC title over Virginia and play for a shot at Duke's first-ever national title.

 

Midfielder of the Year - Paul Rabil, Johns Hopkins

 

Johns Hopkins might have snuck under the radar with regard to its national championship chances this season, but the Blue Jays put it together at the right time to outplay a high-powered Duke offense for the championship crown.

 

With Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala needing a leader to guide a still young and developing offense this season, Rabil stepped up to the challenge and delivered, registering 53 points on 27 goals and 26 assists, including a game-high five against the Blue Devils in the title match and the game-winner to Kevin Huntley in the final three minutes of play.

 

"The sky is the limit for this kid," Petriemala said of Rabil. "And what I am so proud of with Paul is that he gets what he deserves. He works. He comes in and works extra. Paul Rabil wants to be a great player."

 

Defenseman of the Year - Mitch Belisle, Cornell

 

The All-American defender was a big reason why Cornell managed to hold opponents to just 6.97 goals per game this season and help the Big Red secure another Ivy League crown.

 

The first Cornell defenseman to win the Schmeisser Cup since Chris Kane did in 1978, Belisle was often faced with guarding his opponents' best offensive player this season and rose to challenge time and time again, finishing the year with a career-high 42 groundballs.

 

"It has been amazing four years capped off with an amazing senior year," Belisle said after falling to Duke by one in the final four. "It is frustrating to go out this way when we thought we had such a great chance to advance but at the same time it was a special season."

 

Goaltender of the Year - Matt McMonagle, Cornell

 

Cornell was unquestionably one of the most complete teams in the nation this season with an offense orchestrated by All-American midfielder Max Seibald and with All-American attackmen David Mitchell and Eric Pittard, but what made the Big Red even more dangerous was the man standing inside the crease.

It's certainly hard to forget about the play of McMonagle, who became Cornell's winningest goalie in school history with 45 career victories and played a large role in the Big Red's perfect run to the final four.

 

Even after allowing a season-high seven goals to Duke in the first half of the NCAA semifinals, the Bryn Mawr, Pa., native allowed just 7.03 goals against average while registering a .616 save percentage this season.

 

Not to mention the senior All-American majored in physics at Cornell, graduating with a 3.61 GPA.

 

Coaches of the Year - Albany's Scott Marr and Delaware's Bob Shillinglaw

 

In his seven years of work, Marr has revamped Albany's program and taken it to new heights, with this past season bringing even greater accomplishments after the Great Danes started the season at 11-0 with a No. 2 ranking in the nation, the program's highest ever.

 

Despite falling in the NCAA quarterfinals to Cornell with 4.8 seconds left in overtime, Albany was quite possibly the biggest Cinderella story aside from Delaware, who made its first final appearance in school history with Bob Shillinglaw pacing the sidelines in Newark, Del. for the past 29 years.

 

With Delaware struggling at the beginning of April following three straight loses, Shillinglaw turned the Blue Hens around with a seven-game winning streak before falling to Johns Hopkins in the NCAA semifinals.

 

Best Game of the Year - Cornell vs. Duke (NCAA Semifinals)

 

While the national championship match was no slouch of a game, either, when Cornell and Duke tangled last Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium for the NCAA semifinals, there was surely not a fan that left disappointed by the action of what had transpired.

 

Zack Greer's underhand goal with one second remaining -- his 67th goal and the last one he would score this season -- made for an unbelievable finish in a game that saw Duke race out to a 10-3 lead with 3:46 remaining in the third quarter before Cornell rallied in the fourth quarter to tie the game with 17 seconds remaining.

 

The Big Red's second-half comeback topped off by Greer's last-second shot in front of a record-breaking crowd of 52,004 provided the best game from start to finish of the 2007 season.

 

Next Year's National Champion - Johns Hopkins

 

After using the underdog role to run through the NCAA tournament and emerge as this year's national champion, the Blue Jays will be favorites to win the program's tenth national title and pass Syracuse for the most championship crowns in NCAA history.

 

With a team that returns Rabil, Huntley, Stephen Peyser, and Michael Kimmel, Hopkins will surely be preseason ranked No. 1 next spring with a favorable chance of defending its national championship.

 

Meanwhile, Pietramala is continuing to build his own legacy at his alma mater, this time as one of the best coaches in the country after his storied playing career in the late 1980s with the Blue Jays.

 

Next Year's Tewaaraton Trophy Favorite - Paul Rabil

 

With his linemates in Peyser and Kimmel seasoned after Hopkins' championship run, Rabil remains the surefire favorite to take home Player of the Year honors next season in guiding the Blue Jays back to the national title game.

 

The junior finished the season with a brilliant performance through the NCAA tournament and should only continue to soar in his senior campaign next spring.

 

"He is by far one of the finest athletes, finest players and hardest workers I've ever met," Pietramala added on his standout midfielder. "I think he has a chance to be one of the all-time greats at Johns Hopkins and that's saying a lot."

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