Loyola Maryland senior defenseman Joe Fletcher became the first player in program history to win one of the U.S. Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association's major awards Friday, earning the William C. Schmeisser Award as the nation's best defensive player.
Meanwhile, Maryland senior Niko Amato was selected as the winner of the Ensign C. Markland Kelly Jr. Award, presented to the nation’s most outstanding goalie.
Fletcher, who on Thursday was named to the USILA All-America first team for the second year in a row, is also a finalist for the Tewaaraton Award. He is the second defender in the 14-year history of that honor to be named one of the five finalists.
He was the consensus top defender throughout the season and was equally good as a lockdown cover defender and ground-ball player. He led all NCAA Division I players in ground balls per game (4.71) and total ground balls (80). He also caused a career-high 31 turnovers.
Amato becomes the fifth Terps goalie to win the Kelly Award and is the first since his mentor, Brian Dougherty, won the award in back-to-back seasons in 1995 and 1996. In total, a Maryland goalie has won the Kelly Award eight times since it was first given out in 1949.
The native of Conshohocken, Pa., ranks fourth in the nation with a 7.23 goals-against average and eighth with a .566 save percentage.
Amato, who is a three-time All-American, was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in April and was also the first goalie to ever be a four-time All-ACC selection. He is also just the fifth goalie in Maryland history to earn All-America honors three times during his career and is the first during the NCAA tournament era.
Amato and the No. 7-seeded Terps face No. 6 seed Notre Dame on Saturday in the Final Four in Baltimore.
USILA major award winners
Ensign C. Markland Kelly Jr. Award: Outstanding Goalie
Niko Amato, Maryland
Lt. j.g. Donald MacLaughlin Jr. Award: Outstanding Midfielder
Tom Schreiber, Princeton
Lt. Col. J.I. (Jack) Turnbull Award: Outstanding Attackman
Lyle Thompson, Albany
William C. Schmeisser Award: Outstanding Defensive Player
Joe Fletcher, Loyola Maryland
Lt. Raymond J. Enners Award: Outstanding Player
Lyle Thompson, Albany