Posted: 10:00 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013
In honor of Sunday's Major League Lacrosse Championship game, we here at Streaking the Lawn figured now was as good a time as any to bring you your Best Of All Time: Virginia Lacrosse edition. In case you missed it, we are compiling the greatest Virginia athletic teams while simultaneously leaving ourselves at the mercy of the comment section.
Compiling any B.O.A.T. team is difficulty by nature, but the overall success and domination exhibited by Virginia Lacrosse has made this near impossible. I was just short of making a chart full of names and throwing darts at the wall. I considered any player from 1971 on, seeing as this was the year the NCAA started sponsoring Men's Lacrosse, but most players I ended up selecting are from the '90s on. Virginia has four of their five program National Championships from 1999-2011 ('99, '03, '06, '11), leading to a real log jam of all-stars.
As for criteria considered, I looked at All-American selections, statistics (points, goals, assists, ground balls, etc.), National Championships, post season awards (Tewaaraton, All-ACC), and the intangibles such as importance of their role for their team. Feel free to substitute 'epic internal debate' where it says 'also considered'
No more stalling. Let's do this.
Steele Stanwick (2009-2012): Stanwick did it all for the Wahoos, racking up 269 career points, good enough for first place in UVA history (passing Doug Knight) and 18th in the NCAA record book. He was pivotal in the 2011 National Championship, scoring 21 points (9g, 12a) in the post season alone on the way to taking home the Tewaaraton Trophy. Three time All-American (2nd team in 2010, 1st team in 2011 and 2012), ACC Rookie of the year in 2009, and ACC Player of the Year in 2011 and 2012 (offensive). Oh, and his name is awesome.
Matt Ward (2003-2006): Like Stanwick, Ward was a Tewaaraton Trophy winner and three time All-American selection. Ward won National Championships in 2003 and 2006, helping lead the 2006 team to a 17-0 record with 42 goals and 25 assists. As if that was not impressive enough, he played all of the post season in 2006 with a broken hand...and was the leading scorer in all four post season games. He is third in UVA history with 139 career goals.
Michael Watson Doug Knight (1994-1997): This was literally down to a coin flip. Both Knight and Watson were phenomenal players in the mid to late '90s. Doug Knight comes in second in all time points at Virginia, behind only the aforementioned Stanwick, but still retains his first place standing with 165 career goals. A three time All-American ('95-'97), Knight never won a National Championship. The time frame that Knight and Watson were at Virginia, the 'Hoos lost in the finals twice (both in OT to Princeton...ouch).
Also Considered: Michael Watson, Conor Gill, Ben Rubeor, Tim Whiteley, Danny Glading, Garrett Billings, Tom Duquette, Chris Bocklet
Jay Jalbert (1997-2000): Jalbert started at Virginia on attack, earning him an Honorable Mention All-American nod in 1998, but switched to midfield, making him a shoe-in for this list (it's a little crowded on attack). He settled in well as a middie, finishing as a First Team All-American in 1999 and 2000. Jalbert's 31 goals in '99 were good enough for first among the middies and second on the team overall en route to a Championship and a spot on the NCAA All-Tournament team.
Chris Rotelli (2000-2003): Another Virginia Tewaaraton winner and three time All-American. Rotelli dominated at midfield for the 2003 National Championship Cavaliers, contributing 24 goals and 10 assists for the Wahoos, eventually being named the ACC Player of the Year.
Kyle Dixon (2003-2006): Dixon started as a first year on the first line midfield with Rotelli and Canadian stud AJ Shannon, putting up 17 points over the season. At 6'4", 214lbs., Kyle was a solid two way player as physical and tough defender with a hell of an outside shot. A two time All-American, Dixon finished 2006 with 20 goals and 21 assists (2g, 1a in the 2006 National Championship). Dixon is currently a member of the reigning back-to-back MLL Champs, the Chesapeake Bayhawks.
Also Considered: AJ Shannon, Brian Carroll, Colin Briggs
Ryan Curtis (1997-2000): Three time All-American, including First Team for the '99 Championship team. Curtis was also named 1999 National Defensive Player of the year. A stalwart on the defensive end.
Brett Hughes (2001-2004): Hughes is one of the legends of Virginia defense. He always played tough man-to-man defense, but was a lynchpin in team D. Two time All-American, Brett was pivotal in the Cavaliers avenging their two regular season losses in 2003 to Maryland and Johns Hopkins (both 8-7 scores, funny enough), and leading the 'Hoos to the Championship in the mud-filled fest that was 2003. Oh, and he's a great guy.
Ken Clausen (2007-2010): Clausen is probably one of the best players for Virginia to never get a National Championship. Ken finished his career with 230 ground balls and 111 caused turnovers and had an unbelievable ability to clear the ball. Clausen was selected to the All-American team all four years he was a Wahoo, including first team from 2008-2010.
Also Considered: Mike Culver, Bruce Mangels, Boo Smith, Ricky Smith
Tillman Johnson (2001-2004): Duh. Johnson finishes first in the Virginia record books with 700 career saves. Seven. Hundred. His performances in the semifinals and finals in 2003 were the stuff the Greeks wrote myths about, posting a save percentage of 85.7% on 18 saves against Maryland and 65% on 13 saves against JHU. Johnson earned first team All-American for his National Championship winning performance.
Also Considered: Rodney Rullman, Kip Turner, Adam Ghitelman, Chris Sanderson
Long Stick Midfielder- Trey Whitty (2000-2003): Another important member of the '03 Championship team, earning Honorable Mention All-American. Tough and gritty defender.
Also Considered: Mike Timms, Bray Malphrus
Face Off Specialists- Steve Kraus (1978-1981): I had fully intended this spot to go to Jack deVilliers, but Kraus was a machine. Steve holds the top spot in Virginia history with a 68% win percentage (325 of 478) and seventh overall in career wins with 325. Keep in mind Kraus only played 43 games. Kraus's 73.5% win percentage in 1980 is good enough for fifth in NCAA history for a season win percentage. Kraus also finished a two-time Second Team All-American in '80 and '81.
Also Considered: Jack deVilliers, Andy Kraus
Defensive Midfielder- Chris LaPierre (2010-Present): This was another very close call. JJ Morrissey (2003-2006) could easily take this spot as he was an unbelievable middie who was crucial to the success of the team throughout his time at Virginia. LaPierre, a two-time All-American, embodies the idea of the 'intangible'. 'Shocker' has only 20 goals and 18 assists in three seasons with the Wahoos, but has vacuumed up 206 ground balls and caused 26 turnovers. Until a knee injury ended his season last year, Chris was expected to see more time on attack, which hopefully means Wahoo fans will see more shots like the one he literally sent through the net against Cornell. Do you remember when he went Secret Service in front of that shot to preserve the NCAA Tournament opening win against Princeton in 2012? Ridiculous.
Also Considered: JJ Morrissey. Seriously...super underrated. Can I have two D Middies?
I get chills at the thought of if it was possible to get all of these guys in their prime on the same field. Unstoppable. Don't be surprised if you see the likes of Tanner Scales on this list in the next couple years. I expect big things out of him on the defensive end.
Think I missed anyone? Let me know! Discussion is welcome in the comment section!