by Dave Franklin | Special to MCLA.us
Graphics by Christian Di Monda | University of South Carolina
NOTE: It's been a great decade for MCLA Division I with plenty of fantastic talents and great teams. Long-time MCLA writer Dave Franklin has taken the time to make his picks for the top players from the past ten years.
NEW YORK - When looking back on all the great Division I talent that was produced between the 2010 and 2019 seasons, the pool is tremendous. Starting in 2014, we started to see some new members of the national championship fraternity, which really made things interesting.
A few notes to consider:
* In many cases, the margin between those who made my All-Decade team and those who were named honorable mentions were extremely thin.
* Technically, I was only evaluating performances that started in 2010 so anyone who graduated before 2013 might have had their resume cut short. I had one exception where a player who graduated in 2011 had his overall career points taken into consideration.
* That said, players from Michigan in 2010-11 did make the team. Michigan is the only school represented here that is not currently still competing in the MCLA as they of course made the move to NCAA Division I for the 2012 season.
* In this whole lot, there are only two schools represented that did NOT compete in a Final Four in this decade. One of them did prior to the decade, the others never went that deep in the MCLA Tournament.
* There are five programs represented on the rosters that never won a national championship.
* There are three programs (Cal, UCSB and Sonoma State) that have won national championships in their programs' history that did not have players make the cut for this decade.
* As far as schools, nine different states and one Canadian Province are represented.
* No players from teams who matriculated from DII to DI in this decade were selected...stay tuned.
Franklin's MCLA Division I All-Decade Team
Attack: Carson Barton, Grand Canyon
After winning Grand Canyon their first national title in 2015, this two-time first team All-American and SLC Offensive Player of the year was drafted in the sixth round of the NLL Draft by the Calgary Roughnecks.
Attack: Austin Fisher, Colorado State
Defense was the focus on the two teams that Fisher led to national championships, however, the 2013 Godekeraw recipient was the center of Alex Smith's offenses.
Attack: Ted Ferrin, Brigham Young
In 2011 I watched this kid lead what was considered an underdog BYU team to its first and only title in the Matt Schneck era. His follow up efforts in 2012 were sensational, delivering him the Godekeraw Award and a spot atop the All-American list.
A/M: Dylan Garner, Chapman
Garner is more of an attackman, but he certainly saw time at midfield over the course of his career, especially when he brought the Panthers their lone MCLA title in 2016.
Midfield: Ryan Westfall, Arizona State
The three Westfall brothers truthfully deserve a lion's share of the credit for really bringing ASU to the next level under Chris Malone. Ryan is one of the most complete, two-way midfielders I've ever seen. This 2011 grad's 304 career points dates before the 2010 season, which was an exception to the rule here.
Midfield: Danny Riley, Virginia Tech
While this Arcadia (Pa.) transfer was not part of Virginia Tech's magical 2015 final four run, Riley's consistent performance at midfield was a catalyst for the Hokies in what has become a hyper-competitive SELC.
Midfield: Sam Clare, Simon Fraser
This current Vancouver Warrior is a talented lefty who was actually diverse enough player to take quite a bit of face-offs righthanded in his college career. A potential future NLL star, Clare is a Canadian with British heritage and is a member England's National Team for both the field and box.
FO: Zack Handy, Arizona State
Handy reminds me of true face-off master, Greg Gurenlian. Numbers don't lie, a 72% career percentage at the X keeps the opposing offense off the field and earns you conference defensive player of the year honors...twice!
SSDM: Jordan Vicente, Grand Canyon
Much like the other GCU defensive specialist on this list, Vicente only had a three-year MCLA career as he graduated early to go to flight school. This Lope did all the dirty work to bring GCU their second MCLA title in 2017.
LSM: Max Nesser, BYU
At what might be considered “LSM University” in the MCLA, Nesser has one of the best individual resumes of them all. He was three-time First Team All-Everything.
LSM: Jack Lamey, Grand Canyon
Lamey, like Vicente, made the most of his three years playing college lacrosse at Grand Canyon as early graduation sent him on career path to become a pilot. Lamey was a shutdown defender who could create in transition and certainly lay the wood. He won a national championship in 2017 and was the Godekeraw Award winner in ‘18.
Defense: Harrison Freid, Michigan
Freid had a dominating career for Michigan and was perhaps the best close defender in the division in 2010-11, earning First Team All-American accolades. He was the backbone of the Wolverines’ three national championships and also played for Israel's National box and field lacrosse teams.
Defense: Hayden Porter, Colorado State
Remember how I said the Rams win championships with defense? Hayden Porter is a symbol of how and why that is. His game favors fundamentals over flashiness.
Defense: Patrick Donovan, Michigan State
Donovan was a three-time First Team All-American and alongside Kevin Boland, led Cam Holding's Spartans to a 2018 national title.
Goalie: Kevin Boland, Michigan State
Boland, a three-time All-CCLA first teamer was the tournament MVP when the green and white won the national championship in 2018.
There are marginal differences between some of these guys and those listed above them.
Eric Nelson might be the most electric attackman the MCLA has ever seen, but outside of ridiculous numbers, he just didn't accomplish as much as others. Joe Balestrierie was a great shooter but Carson Barton did it all from the attack position for GCU. Tevor Yealy and Connor Martin are among Michigan and Chapman's best but competed outside the decade. Meanwhile Matt Walrath and Dylan Westfall were also dominant in their defensive roles in the SLC while Grayson Dahl was a beast out of a BYU program that breeds LSM's.
There were a lot of close calls.
On a side note, I did call Chapman alum and former MLL/NLL player Connor Martin to say hello and get his thoughts on this. He said "Oh, I shouldn't be on the All-Decade team. There are a lot of MCLA guys who are good enough to go pro, they sort of just let me do it."
He then followed up by asking, "Did Cam Holding make it? I played with him on the Mammoth and the Outlaws – see he was actually good. And he played for Canada and he was the coach at Michigan State.”
Franklin's All-Decade Honorable Mention
A - Joe Balestrierie, Grand Canyon
A - Eric Nelson, Arizona State
A - Connor Martin, Chapman
A/M - Trevor Yealy, Michigan
M - Griffin Giles, South Carolina
M - Luke Donovan, Florida State
FO - Joseph Mikkelsen, Michigan State
SSDM - Christian Wilson, Colorado
LSM - Matt Walrath, Chapman
LSM - Grayson Dahl, Brigham Young
D - Will Bryars, Georgia Tech
D - Gideon Baum, Cal Poly
D - Nicky Mullen, Chapman
G - Dylan Westfall, Arizona State