Best of Lax: The Winners' Circle


Following a one-year hiatus — no one needed a reminder of how much 2020 sucked — we were stoked to put together our latest year-in-review edition.

Over 18 pages in the December edition of USA Lacrosse Magazine, we encapsulated the last 365 days in lacrosse with stories of the year, photos of the year and Best of Lax finalists in select categories.

Thanks to you, we had a blast celebrating #BestOfLax in 2021. Congratulations to all the winners, and we cannot wait to honor even more players, coaches and personalities next year.

THE CATEGORIES

BEST TEAM BREAKTHROUGH

Winner: Boston College women

Imagine the Buffalo Bills winning the Super Bowl in their fourth straight try in 1993, but with a cast of players considered inferior to their predecessors. That is what BC accomplished in its first full season following the graduation of the Big Three, as Charlotte North led the Eagles to an NCAA title after three championship game losses from 2017-19. See the rest of the nominees here.

BEST IN CLUTCH

Winner: Joe Robertson

The King of Clutch for the Blue Devils, Robertson scored five game-winning goals in 2021 — including three in overtime. In his three-year career, the attackman has scored 10 game-winners. Talk about cool under pressure. See the rest of the nominees here.

BEST IN FASHION

Winner: Izzy McMahon

Izzy McMahon has style on and off the field. The USC alum took her talents to the pro arena for Athletes Unlimited Lacrosse this summer and was a always a favorite during FIT Friday Walk-Ins. See the rest of the nominees here.

BEST INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE

Winner: Charlotte North

North was a cheat code in 2021, and she put together video game numbers on April 10 against Virginia Tech. She had 10 goals (Boston College and ACC single-game records, one assist and 13 draw controls in the 21-11 win.

BEST HIGHLIGHT

Winner: Charlotte North

We seriously had to resist giving North her own highlight category. A human highlight reel, North can get on SportsCenter every single week. This goal, in our opinion, was by far her best — and it didn't happen in a BC uniform.

BEST LACROSSE GENES

Winner: The Kirsts

There were few feel-good stories better in lacrosse. Connor and Colin Kirst transferred to Rutgers last winter to fulfill a family legacy and honor their late father, a former Rutgers goalie who died suddenly on June 16, 2015. The brothers helped revitalize a Rutgers program that ultimately made its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2004. To make it even better, they matched up against their younger brother Cole Kirst, a Lehigh goalie, in the first round of the tournament.

BEST GLOW-UP

Winner: Mike Sisselberger

Spoiler alert: We will have more on Sisselberger in our January edition of USA Lacrosse Magazine — a lot more. But for now, just know that the bodybuilding faceoff man is a force to be reckoned with. He parlayed a successful (albeit, shortened) 2020 season into an otherwordly 2021, winning 79.5 percent of his draws.







BEST PERSONALITY

Winner: Sam Swart

The bubbly Syracuse midfielder who has trained with the U.S. national team this summer was a rising star in the college ranks last spring. From her flashy footwear to her postgame chest bumps, Swart — who is also well-versed in TikTok — is quickly becoming a household name.

BEST SAVE

Winner: Sophia LeRose

You’re not alone if you found yourself re-watching the field-level replay of Sophia LeRose’s last-second save against Maryland. LeRose was doing it, too.

Watch the replay a second (or third, or fourth) time and you’ll count four Duke defenders swarming Maryland’s Libby May with just about 3 seconds left in the game and the Blue Devils clinging to a one-goal lead. With four sticks in May’s face, she fired a shot to the top-right corner of the cage from just inside the left wing of the 8-meter arc. It was perfectly placed, putting extra pressure on LeRose. By doing their jobs, the defenders also made LeRose’s job considerably harder.

She got her stick up just in time and popped the ball into the air. Maryland’s Catie May hauled in the rebound, but the buzzer had already sounded, sending Duke to its first NCAA quarterfinal since 2015.

BEST IN ANOTHER SPORT

Winner: Jared Bernhardt

Three months after leading Maryland to the NCAA championship game and winning the Tewaaraton Award, Berhardt started at QB for Division II powerhouse Ferris State and accounted for seven touchdowns. Now, Bernhardt is gearing up for the Division II national championship game on Saturday. He won the GLIAC Player of the Year award, too.

BEST GAME

Winner: Duke vs. Notre Dame

Cameron Mulé scored with 1:55 left in overtime to lift Duke to an ACC win. This one was insane. Trailing 12-7, Duke capped the contest with six goals in the final 8:41. Notre Dame was held scoreless for the final 10:36. Nakeie Montgomery and Michael Sowers scored four of the six goals during the stretch. After not playing all game, Mulé took advantage of the lone extra man opportunity of the night for Duke.

BEST MILESTONE

Winner: Charlotte North

North scored 102 goals in 2021, breaking the single-season record previously held by Courtney Murphy of Stony Brook. Better yet, North achieved the milestone in the NCAA championship game against Syracuse. Can she top her own record in 2022?

BEST INSPIRATION

Winner: Chris Bocklet

Twenty-six days after suffering a traumatic brain injury while longboarding in Delray Beach, Fla., Bocklet, the former Virginia lacrosse star, regaled doctors and nurses — and his Instagram following of nearly 22,000 — with NSYNC hit “Bye Bye Bye” as he was discharged from the Shepherd Center for brain rehabilitation in Atlanta on Jan. 26.

BEST COMEBACK STORY

Winner: Mary Griffin

Three days after testing positive for COVID-19, Griffin found out she had cancer. Both of her parents lost their jobs during the pandemic. The family dog died. Still, Griffin remained optimistic, returning to the field after doctors removed a lacrosse ball-sized tumor, her spleen and 40 percent of her pancreas. We’re not crying, you’re crying. Ready Mary Griffin’s inspiring story here in its entirety.

BEST PLAYER

Winner: Charlotte North

The Tewaaraton Award winner, North’s star gets brighter by the day. From her rocket sidearm shots from the 8-meter arc to her exuberant fist pumps after goals, North is one of the most recognizable figures in lacrosse. She’s looking to lead Boston College to its second straight NCAA title in 2022.

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