The 2015 season is complete -- *single tear* -- and that means that it's time for College Crosse to highlight the best of Division I lacrosse this year. These awards and certificates of amazing human achievement will appear in four parts. The honors, however, are not redeemable for any form currency, mostly because macroeconomics is a lie.
Goal of the Year
Blaze Riorden v. Cornell, May 9, 2015
Was there really another choice?
Careening down the field like a tractor loaded with 200 tons of liquid soap, the rules of physics requiring the unstoppable continuation of momentum, Riorden covered 70 yards in just under 11 seconds -- this has to be a land speed record for a human built to consume massive quantities of mozzarella sticks -- to split a double team -- the split including a bull dodge on Connor Buczek, a massive tank masquerading as a human -- and begin a horizontal trajectory that included (a) throwing a deadly pass fake to Connor Fields (who was wide open on the crease, in a one-on-one with Christian Knight, after Tony Britton slid upfield to try and erase Riorden's study in Newton's laws of motion), and (b) blowing a dominant hand heater -- stick-side high! -- past Knight. The entire sequence took about 16 seconds to complete, a perfect quarter-minute of action that ripped faces off of the uninitiated.
Best Moment of Assuming the Existence of God
Vermont at Sacred Heart, March 14, 2015
The antithesis to the 4-2 terror storm that UMBC and Monmouth created in February is the 21-17 essay of infinite insanity that Vermont and Sacred Heart authored in the middle of March, a game that was overshadowed on its competition date by Ohio State's inconceivable upset of Denver, a quadruple overtime thriller between Michigan and St. Joseph's in Philadelphia, and Syracuse's dismantling of Johns Hopkins in the Carrier Dome. The victory for the Pioneers ended up standing as the second highest total output in Division I in 2015 -- the 38 combined goals in Vermont-Sacred Heart trailed only the 39 that was aggregated in Albany-Harvard (a game that went off just 10 days after the Catamounts and Pioneers attempted to tear a hole in the space-time continuum) -- and featured a perfect confluence of circumstances to generate a bonkers level of scoring: Both teams were pace-positive in 2015 (Vermont more than Sacred Heart, but the Pioneers were still a top 20 team in terms of estimated pace per 60 minutes) and struggled to develop defensive stops on a per-possession basis, these two factors coming together to form a petri dish designed to culture only the preposterous.
There were an estimated 89 -- !!!!!!!! -- total possessions in the game with both teams converting over 35 percent of their offensive opportunities into tallies, a murderous rate of goal-generation that may have caused the scoreboard operator to have a stroke. The two teams combined to trigger 98 -- !!!!!!!! -- shots over the game's 60 minutes with 67 of those attempts breaching a goalkeeper's save radius, that ratio -- 68.37 percent -- illustrating a hardcore desire to burn everything to the ground. This wasn't just a stylistic beauty, though: The final quarter of the game was highly dramatic. Facing an eight-goal deficit with 14:17 remaining in regulation, Vermont uncorked six-straight goals in a 4:07 span to draw within 17-19 of the Pioneers with 5:55 left on the clock. Two of Vermont's goals in its streak of a half-dozen goals came directly off of faceoff victories -- those possessions averaging all of 13.5 seconds per pop -- and the other four markers were earned off of failed clears or turnovers from Sacred Heart. The Pioneers would push its advantage out to four with two markers with less than two minutes remaining in the game, the buckets accounting for the final margin of victory, but those tallies do not erase an exceptionally entertaining show that Sacred Heart and Vermont put on in the heart of Connecticut's Gold Coast.
Player of the Year
Lyle Thompson, Albany Great Danes
In one of the most efficient offenses in the nation, Thompson accumulated 52 goals and 69 assists for 121 points. He was the fuel in the Great Danes' combustion, the necessary ingredient that made Albany's throttle work:
|% OF TEAM||16.00%||33.99%||22.92%||16.91%|
This, however, is only part of the story: Thompson accounted for almost a quarter of Albany's Division I-leading 528 points, but how he generated his points -- and how his points relate to Connor Fields and Seth Oakes, the Great Danes' second and third leading scorers, respectively -- is especially interesting.
- Almost three quarters of Thompson's 52 markers this season were on unassisted demolitions of opposing defenses, that ratio reflecting just how strong Thompson was at beating his man in 2015.
- Of Fields' 66 goals this past season, around 40 percent started in Thompson's crosse (about 38 percent of Thompson's helpers this year were completed by Fields).
- Of Oakes' 54 tallies in 2015, around 37 percent of his buckets originated from Thompson (about 29 percent of Thompson's assists ran through Oakes).
Not only did Thompson have a sophisticated penchant for creating scoring opportunities for himself, Thompson also bolstered the scoring ability of his attack linemates, providing Fields and Oakes with a notable chunk of their finishes. That's a huge realization: Fields and Oakes were major contributors to Albany this season, but a significant portion of their goal scoring -- both players finished in the top 10 in goals per game in Division I -- started with Thompson doing Thompson things.