Northwestern's Shannon Smith Wins Tewaaraton

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Northwestern junior Shannon Smith, MVP of the 2011 NCAA Championship and a first-team All-American, can add the title of Tewaaraton Award winner to her resume after being honored by the Greater Washington Sports Alliance as the top player in NCAA women's lacrosse Thursday night.

Smith received the coveted trophy during a reception at the Warner Theater in Washington, D.C., following a record-setting year in which she led Division I in points with 128, the seventh-highest single-season total in NCAA women's lacrosse history.

"It's an honor to be this year's Tewaaraton Award recipient among such talented and well-respected lacrosse players," Smith said. "Getting to know the 10 finalists here and sharing this experience with them has been great, and having my family here and my teammates here was incredible. These past two weekends have been unreal, right now I think I'm living in a dream.

"This award is because of my teammates -- they make me a better lacrosse player and they make me want to be a better person. I love every one of them so much and the award belongs to them."

It marks the fifth time in the last six years that a Northwestern player has taken home the sport's top honor after Kristen Kjellman and Hannah Nielsen did so over a stretch of four consecutive years from 2006-09.

Smith received her award from lacrosse and football icon Jim Brown -- like Smith a native Long Islander -- who was in attendance to receive the first annual Tewaaraton Legend award from the Greater Washington Sports Alliance.

"To have Jim Brown, an incredible athlete who I grew up learning about from my dad, calling out your name as the winner just made it that much more special," Smith said.

Smith (West Babylon, N.Y./West Babylon) had a knack not only for scoring often but for doing so when it mattered most, most memorably in the national semifinals and championship game. She scored with 18 seconds left to break a 10-10 tie against No. 3 North Carolina to send the 'Cats to the title game, where she notched four goals -- including what proved to be the game-winner with 4:36 remaining -- in 8-7 win against No. 1 Maryland that gave NU its sixth national championship in program history.

In all, Smith scored 86 goals to break the previous Northwestern record of 81 set by Hilary Bowen in 2008, while also ranking among the nation's leaders with 42 assists. A single-game-high seven of those came in a 12-11 victory over No. 7 Stanford in April, one of eight games of at least five goals this year for Smith. Her two game-winning goals on NCAA Championship weekend gave her a total of six for the 2011 campaign.

With one year still to go in her career, Smith has a chance to finish at or near the top in several career statistical categories at Northwestern. Currently, the junior is tied for fifth in school history in career assists (80), seventh in points (264) and eighth in goals (184).

A two-time first-team All-American as well as the 2011 Player of the Year, Smith also is a finalist for the Lacrosse Honda Sports Award, presented to the sport's top performer.


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