2021 PLL End of Year Awards
By Austin Owens | Sep 18, 2021
Ahead of the Whipsnakes and Chaos taking the field for the PLL Championship on Sunday, there was some hardware to be given out.
The biggest stars in the Premier Lacrosse League converged in Washington, DC on Friday night for the 2021 PLL Awards, held at the Museum of the American Indian.
Here’s a quick look at each award winner from Friday night and how their respective seasons went.
Rookie of the Year: Jeff Teat, Atlas
If there was one layup this year, it was the Rookie of the Year award.
With all due respect to the other individuals nominated for this award, Teat was an MVP finalist and had a real shot at taking home the honor on Friday night.
Despite missing two games this year, Teat still managed to finish second in league scoring with 16 goals and 32 points on the season.
Dave Pietramala Defensive Player of the Year: Graeme Hossack, Archers
The hype was real for Hossack after he was drafted second overall by the Archers in the 2021 Entry Draft. He lived up to it and then some.
There seemed to be a turning point in the season where Hossack found his groove and started to just manhandle guys multiple times a game.
He took over as the top matchup defender for the Archers, and his dominance showed through with 15 caused turnovers and 28 ground balls.
The scary part about Hossack is that he’s got another gear and continues to get better every year. So this could be an award he dominates for years to come.
Eamon McEneaney Attackman of the Year: Grant Ament, Archers
Ament led the league in scoring and looked to be a top candidate for the Jim Brown MVP Award as well.
The second-year man was the shining star of a fully stacked Archers offensive unit, helping to lead the league in assists
Oren Lyons Goalie of the Year: Blaze Riorden, Chaos
There has been only one name to feature on the list of winners for this award, and that didn’t change on Friday night.
Blaze Riorden took home his third consecutive Oren Lyons Goalie of the Year Award after another dominant campaign between the pipes for Chaos.
He finished the year with a league-best 149 saves while turning away 61 percent of the shots directed his way -- also tops league-wide.
While Ghitelman and Ward did have solid years, this one didn’t seem like it was in doubt.
Paul Cantabene Faceoff Athlete of the Year: Trevor Baptiste, Atlas
This award looked like a toss-up at the end of the season, with both Baptiste and TD Ierlan both putting up compelling arguments for why they deserved to be named the Faceoff Athlete of the Year.
Unfortunately, an injury derailed the end of Ierlan’s season, and Baptiste had a very strong showing to end the year, posting solid numbers from the stripe while chipping in offensively.
Baptiste had a league-best 149 face-off wins while adding 83 ground balls and six points for the campaign.
George Boiardi Hard Hat Award: Danny Logan, Atlas
When you can sufficiently shut down your opposing matchup, push the ball in transition, and contribute on the offensive end as a short-stick defensive midfielder, you’re going to be a favorite of the coaching staff.
All of the nominees for this award possessed that, but it was Logan -- the first SSDM off the board in the 2021 College Draft -- who took home the honor.
Logan was a monster all over the field, showing his ability to cover anyone on the field, while doing it with some grit.
He was able to post eight caused turnovers and 20 ground balls while also posting at least a point in five of his final seven games of the season.
The Bulls are set up well for the future on the back end, with their poles, but also with the young short-stick pairing of Logan and Peter Dearth.
Dave Huntley Sportsmanship Award: Eric Law, Atlas
Eric Law has always had the ability to rack up points in his sleep, but this award is for his work away from the field.
Law has helped make an impact with his work with Denver City Lax alongside teammate Trevor Baptiste. They have been working to put sticks in the hands of kids for years now and even had the chance to play in front of them in Colorado Springs this season -- the kids loaded onto a bus and made the trip down to catch the Bulls in action.
The attackman had another big year, but it’ll be his contributions to making the game better away from the PLL that will be the longest lasting piece of his legacy.
Jimmy Regan Teammate Award: Jack Kelly, Redwoods
Kelly’s return to the lineup following a long recovery from injury was emotional to say the least.
Nat St. Laurent had told me at the start of the year that he needed to step away from Kelly so that he didn’t cry in front of the team on the first day of camp.
The goaltender’s impact on the locker room was massive, and he wound up winning the backup job behind Tim Troutner.
Kelly managed to make it into action this year as well, relieving Troutner against the Waterdogs and helping the team to a victory in his first appearance of the year.
After a grueling recovery, it was just amazing to see Kelly suit up again this year. You can’t help but to root for him, and to see him play and succeed was a treat.
Brodie Merrill Long Stick Midfielder of the Year: Michael Ehrhardt, Whipsnakes
Like Riorden, Ehrhardt has held a monopoly on the Long Stick Midfielder of the Year award since the inception of the PLL, and he took it home again on Friday night.
Ehrhardt was just simply amazing in all facets. He played on the Whips’ rope unit and also provided his steady presence on both ends of the field, posting a pair of 2-pointers, three assists, six caused turnovers, and 32 ground balls.
He did miss one game this season due to injury, but he also managed to cause a turnover in all but two of the games he appeared in. He started off the season with a three-point performance against the Chaos as well.
For the Whips to bring home their third consecutive championship, they’re going to need the 6-foot-5, 220-pound two-way workhorse to put in another shift.
Gait Brothers Midfielder of the Year: Zach Currier, Waterdogs
Currier earned a nomination for the Jim Brown MVP Award, and he was the most important man on the field for the Waterdogs for the majority of the season.
His two-way play was unmatched and he showed exactly why Andy Copelan selected him first overall in the 2020 Entry Draft.
Currier led the Waterdogs’ midfield in scoring with 11 goals and 11 assists for the year. He also finished the season with 51 ground balls -- the most by a non-faceoff player -- and added seven caused turnovers while also playing on the Dogs’ rope unit with fellow Canadians Jake Withers and Ryland Rees.
This was a stacked nominee list, but Currier was simply above and beyond due to his incredible play in all facets of the game.
Brendan Looney Leadership Award: Kyle Harrison, Redwoods
One Last Ride.
We knew Kyle Harrison would be playing his final season in 2021, and yet, we still weren’t ready to say goodbye to one of the icons of this generation.
Once again, Harrison is another player who’s reach and impact within lacrosse goes further than what he does between the lines. On top of his willingness to take a different role within the Redwoods’ offensive scheme to allow the likes of Myles Jones and Jules Heningburg to succeed, Harrison also helped to found the Black Lacrosse Alliance.
The Alliance was formed to create a better future for the sport and to promote inclusion.
Harrison had a storied career on the field, but he’s going to make an even bigger impact with his contributions as an advocate and leader for the sport heading into the future.
Welles Crowther Humanitarian Award: Lyle Thompson, Cannons
Thompson is a superstar on the field, but he’s also one of the very few individuals who makes just as much of an impact off the field as he does on it.
The Cannons attackmen used his platform and following to raise awareness on the atrocities committed at native boarding and residential schools in North America.
Thompson has never been afraid to stand up for what is right, and he has done so with professionalism and grace. This year was no different. Well deserved for one of the best humans in the game.
Coach of the Year: Andy Copelan, Waterdogs
A 1-3 round robin and quick exit from the Championship Series meant that the Waterdogs likely had some work to do heading into 2021. Copelan and his staff wasted no time in adding to their core, trading for Ryan Brown while adding Liam Byrnes, Mikie Schlosser, and Ben Randall in the Entry Draft and Michael Sowers and Ethan Walker in the College Draft.
His biggest move, however, was the acquisition of Dillon Ward.
The Waterdogs immediately flipped the script this season, going from the bottom of the standings last year to the first seed in 2021.
The next step in the plan will be to make that next step and be involved in Championship weekend in 2022.
Jim Brown Most Valuable Player: Blaze Riorden, Chaos
With his second award of the night, Riorden became the first goalie in nearly two decades to bring home the MVP award. Greg Cattrano earned the honor in the MLL back in 2002.
For all the reasons listed before and more, Blaze was a fantastic choice for the top award in the league. His teammates have been petitioning for him to win the MVP, and during Thursday’s media day ahead of the championship game, Whipsnakes attackman Matt Rambo even gave Riorden his vote to his roommate -- and opponent on Sunday.
Now, Blaze will be looking to put on one more signature performance this weekend to help bring home a title for Chaos.