Year­-End Sports Awards

Bobby Pillote, Sports Editor

At the end of each school year, the Daily Sports staff honors some of the top athletic performers from the fall, winter and spring seasons. The following are The Daily’s selections for Male and Female Athlete of the Year, Male and Female Freshman of the Year, and next year’s Player to Watch.

Female Athlete and Freshman of the Year: Selena Lasota, Lacrosse, Attack

Sean Su/Daily Senior Staffer
Sean Su/Daily Senior Staffer

Selena Lasota shined bright for Northwestern in a year that was otherwise a disappointment for the Wildcats’ lacrosse program, obliterating the field of candidates for Female Freshman of the Year and narrowly earning The Daily’s award for Female Athlete of the Year.

Lasota dominated in front of the opposing team’s net all season long, powering NU’s offense with 3.29 goals per game. Her 69 total scores ranked fifth in the NCAA and led the Cats team by a massive 23-goal margin.

Most impressively, the Campbell River, British Columbia, native scored at least once in all 21 of NU’s contests and at least twice in all but two games. All of her production came in spite of constant face guards and double teams from opposing defenses.

Lasota received numerous postseason honors, the most prestigious of which include Big Ten Freshman of the Year, unanimous selection to the All-Big Ten team and a nomination for the Tewaaraton Award, given each season to the nation’s best college lacrosse player.

The Cats’ exit in the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals fell short of the championship expectations the program sets for itself, but there’s no reason to think NU won’t return to glory with Lasota in tow.

Lasota’s key supporting cast — junior Kaleigh Craig, sophomore Sheila Nesselbush and freshmen Corinne Wessels and Shelby Fredericks — all return next season, and continuing development from Lasota will keep her in the running for The Daily’s Female Athlete of the Year throughout the rest of her time at NU.

Honorable Mention (Female Freshman of the Year): Sabrina Rabin, Softball, Outfielder

Honorable Mention (Female Athlete of the Year): Maddy Carpenter, Field Hockey, Goalkeeper

Male Athlete of the Year: Tyler Miller, Men’s Soccer, Goalkeeper

Daily file photo by Susan Du
Daily file photo by Susan Du

Senior goalkeeper Tyler Miller ended his time at NU in style, capping his college career with one more impressive campaign to lead the defensively-oriented men’s soccer team.

Miller was already a three-year starter in net for the Wildcats before his final season, compiling 27 clean sheets, a stalwart 75.5 percent save percentage and a stingy .87 goals against average.

But the senior from Woodbury, New Jersey, saved his best for last. Miller stood on his head for all 19 of NU’s games, posting nine shutouts and recording career bests in save percentage, 85.4 percent, and goals against average, .58 goals per game — marks which all lead the Big Ten.

He led the Cats to a third-place finish in the competitive conference and was named the Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year for his efforts along with earning Second Team All-America distinction.

And Miller didn’t hang up his cleats after exhausting his college eligibility. The Seattle Sounders selected the goalie with the 33rd overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft, but Miller instead elected to play in Germany for the fourth-division club SVN Zweibrucken.

He also has his eyes on international competition and is currently training with the United States U-23 Men’s National Team. Miller hopes to earn a spot on the roster for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Miller was an integral part of the Cats’ success each of his four seasons, but truly shined in his final year to earn The Daily’s Male Athlete of the Year award over several other worthy candidates.

Honorable Mention: Jordan Wilimovsky, Men’s Swimming, Distance Free

Male Freshman of the Year: Justin Jackson, Football, Running Back

Luke Vogelzang/The Daily Northwestern
Luke Vogelzang/The Daily Northwestern

Justin Jackson did in his first year what most running backs can only dream of doing against burly Big Ten defenses.

The precocious Jackson was the saving grace of NU’s sordid offense, carrying the ball 245 times for 1187 yards and 10 touchdowns, leading all freshmen in the Big Ten in yards and ranking seventh overall in a conference known for its excellent running backs. He also flashed his ability as a receiver, tallying 22 receptions for 201 yards and 1 score.

Jackson was just one of four true freshmen on the Wildcats’ roster to see action but appeared in all 12 of NU’s games and earned Honorable Mention All-Big Ten honors.

The Illinois native has a bright future ahead of him. He’ll feature in a three-pronged rushing attack next season that also includes classmates Solomon Vault and Auston Anderson, but Jackson will continue to carry the majority of the workload as the most talented back on the roster.

The Cats will lean on him as they transition to a new starting quarterback next year, and that — coupled with increased trust from the coaching staff after a year of experience — means Jackson can expect to see even more playing time as a sophomore.

Jackson’s electric debut campaign earned him The Daily’s Male Freshman of the Year Award, and there’s plenty for NU fans to be excited about during the rest of Jackson’s career.

Honorable Mention: Bryant McIntosh, Men’s Basketball, Guard

Player to Watch: Vic Law, Men’s Basketball, Forward

Daily file photo by Nathan Richards
Daily file photo by Nathan Richards

Freshman Vic Law was the star of coach Chris Collins’ inaugural recruiting class as a four-star player out of local St. Rita high school in South Holland, Illinois, and the forward showed signs in his first season that he’s ready to break out his sophomore year.

Law appeared in 32 games, starting 19, and posted a very respectable stat line for a first-year player by averaging 7 points and 4.8 rebounds in 24.4 minutes per contest. He was outshined by classmate Bryant McIntosh, whose position and skill set lends itself to more immediate success, but Law will be more integral to NU’s long-term success.

The lanky forward will benefit from offseason conditioning as he continues to grow into his position. Law stands 6’ 7” and has long arms, but is listed at 185 pounds and didn’t have the size last season to outmuscle other Big Ten frontcourt players.

That will change, and if Law can better leverage his size to get to the free throw line more often, he’ll see a dramatic jump in his scoring. Law shot 76.6 percent from the stripe last season, which was second-best on the team among players with at least 30 attempts.

The freshman will also be helped next year by defenses paying attention to juniors center Alex Olah and guard Tre Demps, and newcomer forward Aaron Falzon. With a season of experience under his belt, Vic Law is The Daily’s Player to Watch.

Honorable Mention: Shelby Fredericks, Lacrosse, Midfielder

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Twitter: @BobbyPillote