Thousands of years ago, White Walkers were born in the Far North. The ancient humanoid ice creatures are believed to be nothing more than legends today. Once the most feared creatures in the world, the last White Walkers were defeated by the Night’s Watch in the Battle for the Dawn.
Or so we thought.
There’s reason to believe the White Walkers are back, and two of them are playing college lacrosse: Johns Hopkins junior midfielder Joel Tinney and Princeton senior midfielder Zach Currier.
These dudes don’t get tired. They run wings on face-offs, take face-offs, play defense, shoot, pass and dodge without ever coming off the field. They’re unlike any midfielders we’ve seen. They’re unlike any humans we’ve ever seen.
On The Lacrosse Show with Paul Rabil and Paul Carcaterra, Currier credited his two-way play to his box lacrosse background. That argument falls apart when you look at other recent Canadian players. Box lacrosse has many benefits, but turning you into a superhuman incapable of fatigue is not one of them.
Even players with proven experience on both offense and defense lack the stamina to make impact plays on each end in D1 games. Challen Rogers (Stony Brook ‘16) and Chad Tutton (UNC ‘15) are both defenders in box; outdoors, they’re offensive midfielders. Very few schools will mess around with two-way midfielders (i.e. Albany, Brown and Virginia). Hopkins and Princeton didn’t have reputations as programs looking for two-way guys, until Tinney and Currier arrived on their respective campuses.
Joel Tinney does nearly every job on the lacrosse field. He can break down his defender with a dodge to generate his own shot or a shot for a teammate. He runs wings on the face-off unit, which is unheard of for a potential 40-point scorer.
Per IL’s Brian Coughlin, only four short-sticks took 20 shots and gobbled up 20 wing ground balls in 2016: TJ Neubauer (Fairfield), Zed Williams (Virginia), Cooper Stefaniak (Hobart) and Will McCarthy (Lafayette). Only two of those players (Neubauer and Williams) scored 20 points. Through four games, Tinney has six wing ground balls and 11 points. If he maintains that pace, then he’ll be in rare company at the end of the season.
Tinney’s motor is always running. He creates 4-on-3 breaks off routine face-off wins. Teams need to adjust their wing play accordingly to prevent that. If he’s ever lucky enough to scoop up a wing ground ball and find a short-stick next to him, then he’ll immediately isolate that unlucky short-stick. Even with Hopkins’ highly touted midfield unit, it’s Tinney who draws the pole when the dust is settled. He’ll take any and every chance to dodge before that happens.
The only thing preventing Zach Currier from tallying 20 wing ground balls? He spends as much time at the X as he does on the wing. Currier has taken 100+ face-offs in each of the last two years. His season-long stat lines are unlike anyone else’s in the country:
2015: 11G, 14A, 31.4 sh%, 81GB, 17CT, 55-123 FO
2016: 14G, 17A, 33.3 sh%, 75GB, 15CT, 43-101 FO
I have a hunch that Currier is the all-time leader in anti-trillions. (Quick explanation: A “trillion” is a basketball game where you register 1 minute and nothing else, so your stat line is 1,000,000,000,000. An anti-trillion is a game where you register a little bit of everything.) This dude fills up the stat sheet. And, like Tinney, he’s constantly moving in a full sprint.
“The dead don’t rest,” said Benjen Stark of the White Walkers. He may as well have been talking about Tinney and Currier. In today’s era of specialization, you’ll rarely see a player log as many minutes as Tinney and Currier. Teams roll multiple midfield lines on each end of the field, yet these Culver Military Academy products play the role of three players.
Still not convinced that Tinney and Currier are White Walkers? Tune into ESPNU on Friday at 3:00PM for a matchup between Hopkins and Princeton. See their superhuman stamina for yourself.
One last thing: Friday’s forecast calls for snow. Winter is coming.