LEXINGTON, Va. -- Following its senior day victory on April 20, the Virginia Military Institute men’s lacrosse team held its annual banquet and announced the team awards with family and friends of the program. The team also honored its seven seniors during the event.
VMI head coach Brian Anken, who concluded his third season at the helm of the team, recapped the season, followed by a recognition at the end of the program. Colonel Wayne Epps of the United States Army and father to senior Drew Epps, presented the three graduating seniors, Will Baker, Drew Epps and James Van Wie, who will commission into the Army after graduation, with VMI lacrosse challenge coins. The seniors also presented their mothers with blue star pins in recognition of sons who are on active duty.
After the challenge coin and blue star pin presentations, the team’s annual awards were given out. Below is a list of the award winners as well as a description of the awards.
The Iron Keydet award is presented to the VMI lacrosse player who, through effort becomes the strongest pound-for-pound member of the team. Senior captain Russell East was presented with the award by Anken, as associate head strength coach James Whitten could not attend. East finished the season as the team’s leading point scorer, racking up 25 goals and four assists. He capped his career on a 21-game scoring streak, dating back to last season, during which time he amassed 40 goals and 10 assists.
Assistant coach Tony Mackin presented the team Most Valuable Player award to sophomore Tyler Prasnicki. The Rockbridge county native became the first defensive player to win the overall MVP award since goalkeeper Brian Ward won it in 2003. Over the course of the season, Prasnicki forced 26 opponent turnovers, averaging 2.36 per game which not only ranked him second in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, but fourth in the country (as of April 28). Prasnicki, who was the only sophomore in the top 20 of the national rankings, started in 11 of VMI’s 13 games, missing two contests with an upper body injury. In the second game of the season, he tallied a goal against Army, his second straight season with a goal against a service academy.He also snared 20 groundballs over the course of 2013 and took seven shots, six of which were on goal.
Volunteer assistant coach Michael Grimm presented the Adrian Cmerek Award, given annually to the player who best displays unwavering effort every time he steps on the field. The 2013 winner was Will Baker, who played in not only all 13 games of this season, but has seen action in all 55 of VMI’s games over the course of his four-year career. Playing the part of a two-way midfielder this year, after spending a majority of the last few seasons as a defensive midfielder, Baker tallied a career-high three points on two goals and one assist. A major player in the faceoff game, Baker reeled in 39 groundballs, second most on the team.
Assistant coach Curtis Jaques ’07 presented the Fred Hope Award, an honor he won his senior year, which given to the VMI lacrosse player who best displays a love of lacrosse and life. Junior captain Rory Dillon was honored by Jaques, who won the award in his senior season. Dillon played in all 13 games for VMI this season, including 10 starts. Late in the season, he was used as a versatility player, seeing action as a long stick midfielder and as a close defenseman. Dillon forced 11 turnovers while hoovering 24 groundballs. He was a key part of VMI’s transition game, helping VMI gain the offensive zone 75 percent of the time. The rising senior also tallied his first career assist, getting an assist against Mercer.
The Doug Bartlett Program Appreciation award, named for the program’s head coach from 1986-2006, was presented by Bartlett to assistant athletic communications director John Stark.
Following the presentations, the tri-captains, Dillon, East and senior Taylor Jenkins, each got up for remarks on the season. Senior goalkeeper Matt Lindemann also presented his starting defense, Dillon, Jenkins, Prasnicki and freshman Ian Marinacci, with handcarved wooden shafts.
After Lindemann’s presentation, a slide show of photographs from the season, compiled by Matt and Betty Jenkins, parents of Taylor Jenkins, was shown to end the ceremonies.The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference annual awards will be announced later this week, prior to the league championships.