Aug. 5, 2010
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Duke’s Ned Crotty and North Carolina’s Whitney Engen, both national players of the year who helped their teams to NCAA championships, are the ACC’s Athletes of the Year for 2009-10.
Crotty, who led the country in points and assists for the Blue Devils’ lacrosse team, won the Anthony J. McKevlin Award as the league’s top male athlete and Engen claimed the women’s honor, the Mary Garber Award. The citations, determined by voting from the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association, are named for respected journalists who chronicled the ACC from its inception.
Crotty, a senior from New Vernon, N.J., won the 2010 Tewaaraton Trophy as the nation’s top lacrosse player. He had five or more points in eight of the Devils’ 20 games and finished with 23 goals and 63 assists. In the process, he had a hand in nearly one-third of Duke’s goals in a 16-4 season, and he was the front man of the most prolific attack triumvirate in Duke history. All three starters finished with 70 or more points.
He scored twice and dished out six assists in the Devils’ first-round win over historically dominant Johns Hopkins, and he assisted Max Quinzani’s game-winning tally with 12 seconds left in the remarkable 14-13 semfinal win over Virginia. Duke won its first championship two days later with an overtime verdict over Notre Dame.
The following week, the Chicago Machine made Crotty the first overall pick of the Major League Lacrosse draft. And a few weeks after that, he scored the winning goal in the title game of the FIL World Lacrosse Championships as the United States defeated Canada 12-10 in Manchester, England.
Crotty edged Clemson football player C.J. Spiller for the McKevlin Award, which was first handed out in 1954. Spiller, a first-team All-American as a running back and kick returner, finished sixth in the 2009 Heisman Trophy balloting. That’s the best performance by an ACC player in that voting since Florida State’s Chris Weinke won the honor in 2000.
In all, 12 Duke athletes have won 14 McKevlin Awards – the highest citation total of any school. North Carolina has claimed 13 trophies by 12 recipients.
Crotty is the second men’s lacrosse player to earn the McKevlin. Virginia’s Chris Rotelli (2003) is the other.
Engen, a senior from Rolling Hills Estates, Calif., is the 2009 winner of the Honda Award as the nation’s premier player. She was the leader of a Tar Heel defense that shut out 10 of its final 11 opponents and allowed only 12 goals in 27 games on the season. UNC (23-3-1) won the NCAA title for the 20th time in the tournament’s 28-year history.
While success from a Carolina soccer player is far from unique, Engen’s story is a bit different. She came to school as a forward and adapted without missing a beat to an entirely different role as the stopper back in 2008.
The move was made in part because the Heels had plenty of firepower up front. Casey Noguiera, who won the Garber Award for the 2008-09 academic year, was named the outstanding offensive player of the NCAA tournament in the 2008 and ’09 events. Engen edged a highly competitive field to become the sixth Tar Heel soccer player to earn the ACC acclaim. The Heels lead the ACC with seven Garber Awards. Virginia Tech track star Queen Harrison, Maryland lacrosse player Caitlyn McFadden and Virginia basketball player Monica Wright were other prominent candidates.
Harrison became the first athlete in NCAA history to win national titles in the 100 meters and 400 meters in the same year; McFadden won the Tewaaraton Trophy and helped the Terrapins to the NCAA championship; and Wright was a consensus All-American for the Cavaliers.