April 2, 2014
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - Loyola University Maryland co-captains Joe Fletcher and Justin Ward have been named two of 10 finalists for the 2014 Senior CLASS Award, making Loyola the only school with a pair of finalists.
"Justin and Joe continue to show why they are two of the best lacrosse players in the game, and their being named finalists for this award is a great recognition of all they have accomplished on and off the field," said Charley Toomey, Loyola's head coach.
The Patriot League is represented by three of the 10 finalists Lehigh University's Ty Souders joins Fletcher and Ward. The other finalists, who were culled from an initial list of 20 nominees, are Troy Dennis (University of Detroit), John LoCascio (Villanova University), Michael Ehrhardt (University of Maryland), Stephen O'Hara (University of Notre Dame), Rob Emery (University of Virginia) and Tom Schreiber (Princeton University).
This marks the second year in a row that Loyola has placed at least one student-athlete on the list of finalists, following Scott Ratliff's inclusion last year.
An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School ®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.
Finalists were chosen by national media from the list of 20 candidates announced in February. Fans can vote daily on the Senior CLASS Award website to help select the winner. Fan voting, which continues through May 12, will be combined with media and Division I head coaches' votes to determine the winner. The Senior CLASS Award winner will be announced during the 2014 NCAA Lacrosse Championships in Baltimore May 24-26.
Fletcher and Ward have continued to lead the No. 1-ranked Greyhounds on and off the field this season. Loyola is 9-1 overall, 5-0 in the Patriot League, entering Saturday's game at the U.S. Naval Academy.
Through the first 10 games of the season, Ward is pacing the Greyhounds with 44 points. He has scored 11 goals and is second nationally with 33 assists. Earlier this season, he became Loyola's all-time Division I leader in career assists, and last Saturday he tallied the 100th helper of his four years with the Greyhounds.
In addition to his list-leading status in career assists, he is tied for ninth in school Division I history (since 1982) in total points with 150. His 33 assists this year are already fifth-most on the school's single-season Division I leader chart, five shy of tying Sean Heffernan's 1994 record.
Ward is also a member of Loyola's SAAC and serves as the group's Director of Media. With Fletcher, he is participating in the Loyola Leadership Academy with Janssen Sports Leadership. Ward has participated in community outreach with Loyola's York Road Initiative and is a volunteer with the homeless shelter at his family's church, Glen Burnie United Methodist Church.
Fletcher has continued to be a leader of the Greyhounds' defense that is ranked fourth in Division I by allowing only 7.4 goals per game. While drawing one-on-one defensive responsibilities for some of the game's top attackers, Fletcher is second on the team and tops amongst close defenders with 44 ground balls and 14 caused turnovers.
The day before the 2014 campaign kicked off, Fletcher was named to the U.S. Men's Lacrosse National Team 30-man roster for this summer's Federation of International Lacrosse World Championship in Denver. He will now view for one of the 23 spots of those who will take the field for the Red, White and Blue.
Off the field, Fletcher is one of the most involved students on the Loyola campus. He is co-president of the Greyhounds' Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, a member of Loyola's Green & Grey Society - a group of 14 students that serves as a liaison to the school's president, cabinet and board of trustees - and he has volunteered his time with many service projects throughout the campus.
To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition.