PLL Championship weekend got started in Washington, D.C. (aka the District of Champions) with the annual PLL awards ceremony. The award winners featured some newcomers, such as rookies Jeff Teat and Danny Logan, as well as PLL newcomer Graeme Hossack, who won his fourth straight Defender of the Year award if you include his awards from his past three NLL seasons.
Other players repeated as award winners, with Blaze Riorden and Michael Ehrhardt winning Goaltender of the Year and LSM of the Year respectively. Yet, it was Blaze Riorden’s second award that made history. The three-time Oren Lyons Goaltender of the Year winner was also named the league MVP, an achievement that was only accomplished once before by a goaltender when future Hall of Famer Greg Cattrano won the MLL MVP award in 2002 as a member of the Baltimore Bayhawks.
Jim Brown Most Valuable Player (MVP): Blaze Riorden (Chaos LC)
Doug Greenberg’s Take: Chaos would not have had nearly the success they had this year without Blaze. He’s been one of the most important players in the sport for a while, time to give him some recognition.
LPG Staff Pick: Blaze Riorden (50%)
Rookie of the Year: Jeff Teat (Atlas LC)
Jackson Rakoczy’s Take: The Atlas had already rebounded from an ugly start to the season when Teat arrived on the scene, but his vision, creativity and remarkable ability to slow professional lacrosse down to 0.5 speed turned them into a wagon. If a professional lacrosse team decides their best option on man-down defense is to lock someone off completely and play 5-on-4 and it’s the right decision, then there’s something special about the target of that defense.
LPG Staff Pick: Jeff Teat (83%)
Dave Pietramala Defensive Player of the Year: Graeme Hossack (Archers LC)
Ty Cunnington’s Take: Graeme Hossack was an immediate difference maker for the Archers and is simply put: a unit. Dodgers had to tread carefully, as Hossack was excellent on-ball, as well as being an enforcer all over the field.
LPG Staff Pick: Graeme Hossack (83%)
Eamon McEneaney Attackman of the Year: Grant Ament (Archers LC)
Hutton Jackson’s Take: Grant Ament led the league in points with 35 and also only had 18 turnovers–an indicator of poise and efficiency. He led an Archers offense that scored 119 goals, one shy of first place in the league, and he did so in just his second season as a pro.
LPG Staff Pick: Jeff Teat (67%)
Gait Brothers Midfielder of the Year: Zach Currier (Waterdogs LC)
Jackson Rakoczy’s Take: I’ve said this before, but 10 Zach Curriers would beat 10 of anyone else in a lacrosse game. He is a full-field workhorse who turns into a sly fox with a deep bag to pull from on offense. The Waterdogs faceoff team, offense and transition game all would be significantly hindered without Currier.
LPG Staff Pick: Zach Currier (50%)
Paul Cantabene Faceoff Athlete of the Year: Trevor Baptiste (Atlas LC)
Ty Cunnington’s Take: Trevor Baptiste returned to his normal self after a shaky bubble tournament, and did so with the most ground balls, a tie for first in faceoff percentage and seven points. He also had the second highest win percentage after winning the clamp (83%) and second highest percentage after he lost the clamp (38%), trailing only Jake Withers (who also had 123 less clamps on faceoffs for the season).
LPG Staff Picks: Trevor Baptiste (50%), TD Ierlan (50%)
Oren Lyons Goalie of the Year: Blaze Riorden (Chaos LC)
Adam More’s Take: There are so many variables that go into making a goalie successful. Those ancillary attributes play a large role in a team’s success and aren’t necessarily talked about as much as saves and save %. What makes Blaze deserving of this award for the third time in a row is that he has those intangibles AND he’s who I would want in cage when I need a save the most. He’s cementing his legacy as one of the best to get put on a chest protector…and he’s only 27!
LPG Staff Pick: Blaze Riorden (100%)
Brodie Merrill Long Stick Midfielder of the Year: Michael Ehrhardt (Whipsnakes LC)
Jackson Rakoczy’s Take: Michael Ehrhardt patrols the middle of the field like a gray wolf, stalking prey and pouncing when the opportunity presents itself. He and Joe Nardella form one of the more dominant draw-man/wing duos, and his prowess on both ends helps make the Whipsnakes the Whipsnakes.
LPG Staff Pick: Ryland Rees (67%)
George Boiardi Hard Hat Award: Danny Logan (Atlas LC)
Brian Andrews’ Take: His performance against Paul Rabil solidified this pick. The entire Atlas SSDM core has been amazing but Logan has particularly made a name for himself, and did so as a rookie.
LPG Staff Picks: Zach Goodrich (50%), Danny Logan (50%)
Dick Edell Coach of the Year: Andy Copelan (Waterdogs LC)
Hutton Jackson’s Take: Acquiring Ryan Brown, Eli Gobrecht and Dillon Ward through trades and drafting Liam Byrnes, Mikie Schlosser and Ben Randall was a master stroke by Andy Copelan this offseason. Copelan deserves even more credit though for putting it all together during the season and leading his team to the top seed in the league and a first round bye.
LPG Staff Pick: Ben Rubeor (100%)
Dave Huntley Sportsmanship Award: Eric Law (Atlas LC)
Adam Moore’s Take: The veteran is a consummate pro and helped the revamped Bulls go from worst to almost first in the regular season. Law has been a winner at every stop and this season showed again his leadership abilities and how to play the game right.
LPG Staff Picks: Eric Law (50%), Zed Williams (50%)
Jimmy Regan Teammate Award: Jack Kelly (Redwoods LC)
Brian Andrew’s Take: Jack Kelly’s return from injury was a long-awaited one. As a backup, he was always there when his team needed him and supportive of Tim Troutner. You can’t ask more out of a player.
LPG Staff Picks: Jack Kelly (50%), Mikie Schlosser (50%)
Welles Crowther Humanitarian Award: Lyle Thompson (Cannons LC)
Ty Cunnington’s Take: When news of massive unmarked graves at Residential Schools broke earlier this Summer, it quickly became the most important topic in the Lacrosse community. At forefront of it — along with other Native American players — was Lyle Thompson. The Every Child Matters initiative by the PLL began with conversations with Thompson, and now the conversations are continuing, thanks to the All-star attackman’s efforts.
LPG Staff Pick: Lyle Thompson (50%)
Brendan Looney Leadership Award: Kyle Harrison (Redwoods LC)
Adam Moore’s Take: K18 has been the epitome of a leader through his actions both on and off the field through his entire career. His positive impact on those around him make him the indelible figure that the lacrosse community has loved for so long. Though he is hanging up the pads, I expect him to continue to lead our community and help grow the game we all love for as long as he can.
LPG Staff Pick: Kyle Harrison (67%)