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Tewaaraton 2024: Why each finalist should, and shouldn't, win the award.

The Tewaaraton Award will be given out tonight, honoring the top male and female player in the sport of lacrosse this college season. The award considers regular season and postseason performance for the winner. The list of 25 nominees has been trimmed down to five finalists. Matt Brandau, Liam Entenmann, Pat Kavanagh, Brennan O’Neill, and Connor Shellenberger. This is the case for and against each player. Obviously the case for each is sizable; these are the best players in the country. The case against is really just hair splitting.


Matt Brandau, Attack, Yale


The Case For:


Brandau led the nation in points and assists this year, and was the only player in DI to break the 100 point mark on the season. Brandau had to shoulder a load for a Yale team that was crushed by injuries before the season even began. The other two thirds of the Yale starting attack, Leo Johnson and Chris Lyons, both missed the year with injuries. Top midfielder Brad Sharp missed the year as well. Both top faceoff specialists missed most of the second of the year with injuries. And yet Brandau still had arguably his best season ever, elevating the play of everyone else on the offense both as a distributor and primary initiator.


The Case Against:


No player who has missed the NCAA tournament has ever won the Tewaaraton. While it makes the above achievements even more impressive, as he still was the national leader in those categories without playing a tournament game, the fact that Yale missed the big dance is a big strike against.


Connor Shellenberger, Attack, Virginia


The Case For:


Shellenberger is first team All ACC. He also won the Lt. Col. JI Turnbull Award, given to the most outstanding attackman in the country. Considering the candidates and competition for those awards, this is quite the achievement. Shellenberger finished the year with 84 points, trailing only Brandau among the finalists, and 52 assists, second in the nation and again trailing only Brandau. His double OT game winner against Hopkins was a bona fide “Tewaaraton Moment”, as he took the ball in the highest leverage moment possible and delivered.


The Case Against:


Shellenberger is still trailing Brandau in terms of production. For the glory that was the double OT game winner against Hopkins, there were late game moments where UVA needed a goal and Shellenberger didn’t get the ball. While he won the Turnbull Award, he wasn’t named ACC Offensive Player of the Year. If he’s not the best offensive player in his own conference, can he be the best player in the country?


Brennan O’Neill, Attack, Duke


The Case For:


O’Neill is a three time finalist and the 2023 Tewaaraton winner. The top pick in the PLL Draft, there might not be a player who has to deal with being under a microscope all the time quite like O’Neill does. O’Neill had a four point game against Princeton, five point game against UVA, and a six point game against Syracuse this year. He is, every week, the player the entire opposing defense focuses on stopping.


The Case Against:


Duke made an earlier than expected exit from the NCAA tournament. O’Neill had a total of nine points in the two tournament games for Duke. He wasn’t the ACC Offensive Player of the Year, and if he wasn’t named the best offensive player in his own conference, how can he be the best player in the country? The shouts that O’Neill goes missing in the big moments were quieted a bit as he scored a critical goal against Maryland, but ultimately, Duke was bounced sooner than expected, and O’Neill’s Duke career ended without a ring.


Liam Entenmann, Goalie, Notre Dame


The Case For:


Entenmann finishes his college career with a case to be made that he’s the best pure ball stopper the college game has ever seen. Against Denver in the semifinals, he made 12 saves and had a 67% save percentage. That was the worse of his two games Championship Weekend. In the title game, he made 16 stops and finished with a remarkable 76% save percentage. Entenmann was over 60% eight times this year, and over 70% three times. After the title game, Maryland’s Daniel Kelly said Entenmann simply, “has no weaknesses.”


The Case Against:


Entenmann finished 15th in the country in saves made, as the defense in front of him was great at allowing minimal shots, and mostly just shots Entenmann wanted to see. While he finished the year with an excellent save percentage of 57%, he did have six games this year where he was below the 50% mark, two of which came in NCAA tournament games, and another in Notre Dame’s only loss of the year.



Pat Kavanagh, Attack, Notre Dame


The Case For:


Kavanagh is a finalist for the third time. He had 20 points just in the NCAA tournament, including setting a Notre Dame mark for assists in the championship game with six. Those six assists came against the nation’s top defender, Ajax Zappitello. His 49 assists are the 2nd most in a season in Notre Dame history. The four highest single season assist totals in Notre Dame lacrosse history all belong to Pat Kavanagh. On an offense loaded with weapons, Kavanagh was still the player relied on to make it all go, the key distributor who drew the best matchup and still kept the offense humming every week. and was the ACC Offensive Player of the Year.


The Case Against:


Kavanagh didn’t have the highest production on his own team (his brother Chris did). His assist total of 49 is impressive, but it’s less than both Shellenberger and Brandau. In some cases, the “best player on the best team” point of view is taken for this award, but even in that case, he’d likely see some arguments as some may point to Entenmann as Notre Dame’s best player.

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