By Sam Gest | 8/8/13 3:00 PM
As the regular season comes to a close, Major League Lacrosse is getting ready to announce awards for the 2013 regular season. The Most Improved Player award goes to the individual who has distinguished himself as the player who’s skills and impact on the game have progressed the most since last season. Today, we take a look at a few of the frontrunners for the award. Be sure to check back on Thursday, August 15 to find out who claims the prize.
Ryan Young-A-Charlotte Hounds:
After being a role player for his first two seasons in the MLL with the Lizards, Ryan Young has emerged as a star this season for the Charlotte Hounds. In two seasons with the Lizards, Young scored a total of 24 points on 17 goals and seven assists. But through 12 games in 2013 the third-year attackman has been an offensive force, compiling 29 goals and 9 assists in helping Charlotte to its first postseason appearance.
The former Maryland Terrapin has been the epitome of consistency for the Hounds this season, scoring multiple points in every game he has appeared in. Young enjoyed his breakout performance in Week 3 against the Rochester Rattlers When he scored seven goals and dished out an assist, single-handedly keeping the Hounds in the game in a 13-10 defeat. In the other 11 games, Young has tallied three or more points seven times, leaving defenses puzzled as to how to contain him, let alone stop him. The acquisition of Young has been key to the Hounds’ success this season, and he and Matt Danowski combine to form a formidable 1-2 punch that should strike fear in defenses for seasons to come.
Drew Snider-M-Denver Outlaws:
In just his second year in the league out of Maryland, it looks like Drew Snider is starting to figure this MLL thing out. After a successful rookie season in which he scored 12 points, Snider has certainly avoided the sophomore slump in 2013, exploding for 41 points in 13 games for the high-powered Outlaws offense. He is third on the team in points, behind only last season’s Most Improved Player, Jeremy Sieverts, and Chris Bocklet, the MLL leader in points.
Right from the start of the season, it was clear that Snider had turned a corner, as he tied a career high with four points in a Week 1 win over Charlotte. He has consistently proved difficult to defend all season, scoring a point in every game, including six-point performances in back-to-back wins over Boston and Hamilton in weeks 5 and 6, respectively. The improvement of Snider has been huge in adding yet another weapon to the dynamic Denver offense, and it is a huge reason why the Outlaws are one victory away from becoming the only team in MLL history to complete a perfect regular season.
Matt Mackrides-M-Chesapeake Bayhawks:
Like many rookies Matt Mackrides had some growing pains during his first season in the MLL, recording just six points in nine games for the Bayhawks. But based on his performance so far in 2013, it’s obvious that the Penn State grad has adjusted to the speed of the MLL game. Through 12 games this season, Mackrides has recorded 27 points on 19 goals and eight assists, good for fourth on the high-octane Chesapeake offense.
Mackrides got the 2013 season off to a great start, setting a then career-high three points in a Week 1 win over Rochester. Since that game, he has scored a point in all but one game, and has set a new career-high with four points, which he has replicated three more times. While Chesapeake was well aware of his ability, Mackrides’ scoring outburst has been a nice surprise for the Bayhawks, and has added another threat to an already dangerous offense that includes Drew Westervelt, Kyle Dixon, Ben Rubeor and John Grant Jr. (not to mention Casey Powell). With these big names on the field together, Mackrides isn’t the focal point of the offense, but he has been a great secondary option for Chesapeake, and his play helped the Bayhawks clinch a playoff berth for the fourth consecutive season.
You can see how all of these players have improved for yourself during the playoffs, as each will be playing on Championship Weekend presented by Smartlink. The event takes place August 24 and 25 at PPL Park in Philadelphia. For tickets and information about Championship Weekend, head to www.majorleaguelacrosse.com/championship-weekend.