May 6, 2014

Nowicki, McKnight, Shirk Lauded with Top Centennial Honors

Nine Shoremen Named All-Conference 

LANCASTER, Pa. -- Washington College senior midfielder Hunter Nowicki (Baltimore, Md./Franklin), senior defenseman Casey McKnight (Ridgefield, Conn./Ridgefield), and head coach Jeff Shirk have been chosen for the top Centennial Conference men's lacrosse individual honors in a vote conducted by the conference's nine head coaches. Nowicki has been named the conference's Offensive Player of the Year, McKnight has been named the Defensive Player of the Year, and Shirk has been named the Coach of the Year. Nowicki and McKnight are also among the Shoremen's nine All-Centennial Conference selections, their most since 2003. 

Shirk's Coach of the Year award is his second in three years. The Shoremen went 8-0 in the Centennial Conference regular season this spring for the first time since 2004 and won the Centennial Conference Championship for the first time since 2003. The Shoremen's average margin of victory in their eight regular-season conference games was over 6.7 goals per game and they won their two conference tournament games by a combined 21 goals. Washington carries a 15-1 overall record into tomorrow's NCAA Division III Tournament first-round game against Eastern. The 15 wins are the Shoremen's most since finishing the 2004 season 18-3. 

This marks the first year the Centennial Conference has named separate Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year. Washington players had previously won four Centennial Conference Player of the Year awards, the most recent being Bennett Cord in 2012.

Nowicki, who was named to the All-Centennial first team, has scored 29 goals (second on the team) and assisted on a team-leading 30 more for a team-best 59 total points this season. He ranks second in the conference in assists, third in total points, and is tied for eighth in goals. He has recorded at least one assist in all but one game this season and has also scooped up 24 ground balls. Nowicki is now a three-time All-Centennial Conference honoree, having earned second-team honors in 2012 and 2013. 

McKnight joins Nowicki on the All-Centennial first team. His 38 ground balls rank second on the team and 20th in the conference, while his 10 caused turnovers this season rank fifth. He has also scored one goal this year. McKnight has led a defense which surrendered only 68 goals in its eight regular-season Centennial and two conference tournament games and has allowed only 119 goals in 16 games overall this season. Like Nowicki, McKnight is now a three-time All-Centennial selection, having previously earned first-team honors in 2012 and second-team honors a year ago.

Nowicki and McKnight headline a group of five All-Centennial Conference first-team selections, also their most since 2003, completed by senior attackman Jim Cusick (Fallston, Md./Calvert Hall), senior midfielder Kodie Englehart (Coronado, Calif./Coronado), and junior face-off specialist Michael Trapp (White Plains, N.Y./White Plains). Cusick leads the Shoremen and is tied for second in the conference in goals with 39, is second on the team and seventh in the conference in points with 48, and is fourth on the team in assists with nine. His 11 extra-man goals also lead the conference and he has also recorded 29 ground balls on the year. He is a first-time All-Centennial selection.

Englehart, who previously earned All-Centennial second-team honors in 2012, is a two-way midfield threat. His 17 assists this season are second-most on the team and ninth in the conference and he has also scored eight goals on the season. Defensively, he has caused 12 turnovers, tied for third on the team, and recorded 27 ground balls. 

Trapp, a repeat first-team selection, has put together arguably the most dominant season for a face-off man in team history. He has won a league-best 226 face-offs at a league-leading 69.3% rate. His 148 ground balls rank him second in the conference and both of those marks are among the national leaders in Division III. His face-off percentage was even better in conference games at 72.7%. He has also scored 12 goals and assisted on six others, all of which have come during possessions directly following face-offs. 

Senior goalie Ted DiSalvo (Boca Raton, Fla./Spanish River) and junior midfielder Grant Hughes (Alexandria, Va./St. Stephen's & St. Agnes), both first-time All-Centennial honorees, were named to the second team. DiSalvo's 61.2% save percentage and 6.98 goals-against average both lead the Centennial Conference. He was named the Most Valuable Player of the Centennial Conference Tournament after making 28 saves and allowing just six goals over the course of the two games. He made 20 saves and allowed just five goals in the championship game. 

Despite missing the past three games with a season-ending injury, Hughes still ranks fourth on the team in total points with 32 and is tied for fourth in goals with 26. He has also tallied 18 ground balls on the season.

Junior attackman Stephen Luck (Catonsville, Md./Boys' Latin) and junior defenseman Dan Pulzello (Glen Rock, N.J./Don Bosco Prep), two more first-time honorees, both received All-Centennial Conference honorable mention. Luck ranks 10th in the conference and third on the team in goals with 28 and also third on the team in total points with 36. He has also recorded 30 ground balls this season. Pulzello is second among Shoremen with 13 caused turnovers and is second on the team in ground balls with 38.

Senior long-stick midfielder Michael Baker (Meridian, Idaho/Meridian) was Washington's representative on the Centennial Conference All-Sportsmanship Team. Each Centennial Conference member institution was permitted to nominate one student from each spring program who exemplifies the best in sportsmanship for the All-Sportsmanship Team. Nominations were submitted by the athletic departments or head coaches. 

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