(Photo Courtesy of Albany Athletics)
Who is the greatest at anything in any sport is always debatable. And college lacrosse is certainly no different, especially when talking about a position as highly regarded as the attack position.
There has never and will never be one solely agreed upon “GOAT” amongst college lacrosse attackmen. However, there are multiple lenses that can be had when going about this never-ending argument.
Here are multiple different answers to this argument when looking through five different lenses.
1. The Best Attackman Based on Overall Career: Lyle Thompson and Pat Spencer
When you look at the top career point, goal, and assist leaders, they are mostly from the 2000s and 2010s. And that’s largely due to the increased pace of play across the landscape of the sport for the better part of the past decade or so.
But the two who stand above the rest, career-wise, are Lyle Thompson and Pat Spencer. What both of them did on the field during their careers, not only helped elevate their respective programs but helped change the sport.
Thompson brought a whole new style of play to the game that revolutionized the sport during his time at Albany. Spencer did much of the same at Loyola, galvanizing fans across the sport. Currently, they sit first and second amongst all-time career NCAA points leaders.
Both of them are and will be, heralded as generational talents for years to come. And both of them are Tewaaraton Award winners, as well.
2. The Most Decorated: Mikey Powell
Between individual and team awards and trophies, Mikey Powell’s carer at Syracuse can only be defined as one of the most decorated in the history of college lacrosse.
From the minute Powell stepped on campus at Syracuse he showed that he was one of the best to ever do it at the attack position. During his time at Syracuse, he won the Tewaaraton Award (2002,2004), the Jack Turnbull Award (2001,2002,2003,2004), and the Lt. Raymond Enners Award (2004).
He also helped lead the Orange to four straight Championship Weekend Appearances, including a championship appearance in 2001 and national titles in 2002 and 2004.
Mikey Powell might also claim the most-viewed college highlight tape.
3. The Ultimate Quarterback: Rob Pannell, Grant Ament, Michael Sowers
When you think of some of the best quarterback attackmen the names Rob Pannell, Grant Ament, and Michael Sowers. Each of them showed their prowess as elite passers during their college careers and rewrote record books while doing so.
Pannell may stand out a bit more because of the success of Cornell as a team during this time in college. However, what Ament and Sowers were able to accomplish in their shortened college careers is nothing short of spectacular.
Ament had the best passing season in college lacrosse history in 2019, dishing out 91 assists. Sowers broke Princeton’s all-time career scoring and assist records in three seasons and five games, and he never even played in the NCAA tournament. Imagine if both Ament and Sowers would’ve had ended their careers with full seasons.
4. The One-Man Show: Steele Stanwick
Virginia’s 2011 national title run was far from a one-man show. However, Stanwick was clearly the main star late in the season when they made that title run. Also, he is one of the prime examples of an attackman that can and will do it all. He is a workhorse type of player, in that sense.
Stanwick’s senior season in 2012 was by far the most productive of any during his Virginia career as he tallied 80 points (29G/51A), moved to number two in Virginia history for assists in a season, and etched his name atop the programs all-time career points list.
But his most memorable run is the 2011 NCAA tournament, where he tallied 21 points (9G/12) in four games to lead the Cavaliers to a national title and secure help secure himself as the year’s Tewaaraton winner.
5. Older Guys: Jimmy Lewis, Eamon McEneaney, Tom Marechek
Guys from the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and even the early to mid-1990s seem to get overlooked in a lot of these kinds of discussions because of how the game has changed since they played. And while there is certainly a lot of truth to that, some of the guys that played in those decades set the foundation for the way we see the game played today, especially at the attack position.
Jimmy Lewis put up 169 points (78G/91A) during his three seasons at Navy, while also leading the Midshipmen to three consecutive national titles (1964,1965,1966), including an undefeated season in 1965. The Baltimore Sun dubbed him the “Greatest Living Lacrosseman” in 1966.
The late Eamon McEneaney is still regarded as one of the best athletes in the history of Cornell Athletics. He put up 164 points in his three seasons with the Big Red and helped lead them to two national titles (1976,1977). McEneaney held the record for all-time career points at Cornell for 36 years until Rob Pannell broke it in 2013.
Tom Marechek might not have gotten all the love he deserved while at Syracuse because of how stacked those teams were. But he was a game-changer at the attack position, pulling off things that many had never seen before. Marechek’s 258 career points and two national titles speak for themselves.
6. Who Do You Think is The Best Attackman of All-Time?
There are many great players that didn’t get mentioned in this article, but certainly could have been. Are any of those guys not mentioned who you believe is the best attackman in college lacrosse history? Or do you believe it is one of the ten players that were mentioned?