Best of Lax 2022: Vote for Best Breakout Player


From left to right: CJ Kirst (Cornell); Ashley Humphrey (Stanford); Kieran McArdle (Waterdogs); Amanda Johansen (Athletes Unlimited)

Welcome to #BestOfLax2022. Help us celebrate the past year of lacrosse by voting in 15 polls spread over 15 weekdays in December. All voting will be conducted on Twitter (@usalacrossemag), and fans will have 24 hours to let their voices be heard.

For more information — including upcoming categories, rules and more — check out our introductory post to #BestOfLax2022.

We all love a good breakout.

Newcomers becoming household names is part of the beauty of another lacrosse season. You never know who will capitalize on opportunities and take the sport by storm. This year, we picked four players who did that better than anyone else.

Here are the nominees for Best Breakout Player. 


For the player who quickly became a household name.


We all know of the Kirst family. In 2022, CJ Kirst made a name for himself. The attackman contributed 55 goals and 24 assists for a Cornell team that fell in the NCAA championship game and then won MVP honors at the World Lacrosse U21 Men’s Championship in Limerick, Ireland, for leading the U.S. to a gold medal.


As a redshirt-freshman, Ashley Humphrey set the Division I women’s records for single-season assists (88) and assists per game (4.63). Humphrey, one of the top young players in the nation, is part of ushering a new wave of success into the Stanford program.


McArdle is by no means a newcomer to lacrosse, but his breakout in 2022 coincided with the Waterdogs’ breakthrough. McArdle was the 2014 MLL Rookie of the Year and is a three-time All-Star selection, but he etched his name into the upper echelon of stars with his best PLL season to date — 19 goals and 23 assists. McArdle is No. 11 in the PLL Top 50 — a jump of 32 spots from last year.


Like McArdle, Johansen is not a newcomer. But she had a sensational summer season in Athletes Unlimited, finishing seventh on the leaderboard and reestablishing her presence as a force on the field. The midfielder did everything, scoring four two-point goals (tied for second in the league), picking up 25 ground balls (fourth in the league) and corralling 41 draw controls (third in the league).


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