The Armory, Buffaloes, and Hawkeyes of the Upstate Collegiate Box Lacrosse League (UCBLL) have announced their player awards for the inaugural 2021 season. The awards are named after lacrosse legends from the Western New York region and are specific to the city the teams play in.
The Rochester-based teams, Armory and Hawkeyes, named their MVP award after Duane “Dewey” Jacobs, while their Unsung Hero is named after Chris Schiller. For the Buffaloes, based in Buffalo, the MVP Award bears the names of Darris and Rich Kilgour, while their Unsung Hero is named after Ken Lay Sr.
Darris and Rich Kilgour Most Valuable Player Award – Gage Stevens, Buffaloes
Gage Stevens started seven games for the Buffaloes this summer, recording a 10.66 goals-against average while keeping giving his team a chance to win every game.
“Gage has been our most reliable and consistent player all year,” said Buffaloes coach Dan Coates. “Whether it’s been a timely save or throwing a deep ball to spark our transition, he has been a cornerstone for us when he’s between the pipes.”
Stevens, a high school senior, made stellar saves all summer for the Buffaloes.
Coach Zed Williams added, “Gage is a brick wall in net who can really throw the ball.”
While the Buffaloes struggled to score goals this season, Stevens often kept games close through three quarters. Defensive Coach Ethan O’Connor had nothing but praise for his goaltender.
“Gage was our rock on defense and kept us in games, especially early in the season when the team was learning new defensive systems,” said O’Connor. “He was also great to coach and eager to learn. I’m excited to see where his lacrosse career takes him.”
Ken Lay Sr. Unsung Hero Award – Jack Anzalone, Buffalos
Jack Anzalone finished a game in Rochester earlier this season in which his team was tied at the half. However, a rough start to the third quarter saw his team fall behind in a game that was eventually lost 12-8. After the game, each player was asked to look in the mirror and asked if they were doing what they could to help their team win games, and Anzalone took that challenge to heart.
“It’s been pretty cool to see the growth of Jack’s game on and off the floor through the course of the season,” said Coates. “We challenged our guys in a tough game in Rochester a few weeks ago, and he was one of the guys who stepped up and started buying into the message from the coaching staff. He has become a leader and a steady defender for our team.”
The defender recorded three goals this summer, but the intangibles he brought to the team contributed to success in other areas.
“Jack was consistently one of our best performers game in and game out. His hustle plays sparked our team countless times. He also showed great leadership on defense as his willingness to learn new systems and then pass this knowledge on to others expedited our growth as a team,” said O’Connor.
Leadership and work ethic was something noticed by the entire Buffaloes squad. As coach of the offense, Williams praised Anzalone, saying, “Jack reacts very well to the game at a high level and plays extremely hard.”
An attackman for the Norwich Cadets of the Division III Great Northeast Athletic Conference, Anzalone took on his new role as a defender in the box and hopes to forge a career in the NLL one day.
Duane “Dewey” Jacobs Most Valuable Player – Luke Pilcher, Armory
It has been quite the summer for Luke Pilcher. Two weeks after helping RIT claim its first Division III lacrosse national championship, he was playing in the UCBLL. A veteran of box lacrosse, the forward was a force this season with the league’s top team. In eight games, he notched league highs in goals (25), assists (28) and points (53).
The Oakville, Ontario native broke into the league with back-to-back seven-point efforts. His biggest offensive effort, however, was on July 12. That night, Pilcher scored a league-record nine goals as the Armory recorded a single-game high 21 goals in a win over the Hawkeyes.
Pilcher serves as the team captain for the Armory, who will play for the Mearns Cup on Monday.
“From the opening day of the combine, Luke has shown to be a leader on and off the floor. That is one of the biggest qualities of being named the MVP of a team or league,” said Armory coach Ron Cogan. “In addition, Luke has shown the dedication and commitment that it takes to play at the highest levels. He has shown that in his play as he has led our team in goals and points since the beginning of the season. Our team looks up to our captain, Luke Pilcher, and he is beyond deserving of this award.”
Chris Schiller Unsung Hero – Brady Ruffalo, Armory
The Webster Schroeder High School standout, who will begin his senior year in September, was awarded the Unsung Hero Award after showing dedication to his team and displaying hard work every game. In eight contests, Ruffalo has one assist this season for the first-place Armory.
His team-first attitude was evident as the forward spent the season playing defense and transition. A product of the local Roots Box Lacrosse League and Jr. Knighthawks program, Ruffalo brought invaluable box experience to the first-year team.
“He’s a player who shows up day in and day out and exceeds at everything during practices and games,” said Armory coach Jordan Jarvis. “He does the little things right, has a great attitude, and is a great team player.”
Duane “Dewey” Jacobs Most Valuable Player – Conner Fingar, Hawkeyes
Penn Yan, NY native Conner Fingar finished the regular season with five goals and seven assists for the Hawkeyes. He was also the main draw man for the second-place team in the Upstate Collegiate Box Lacrosse history (UCBLL).
The University at Albany product holds the distinction of scoring the first goal in Upstate Collegiate Box Lacrosse League history (UCBLL). On June 16, he won 14 faceoffs and scored two goals in helping the Hawkeyes hand the Armory its only loss of the regular season. Fingar, who served as the Hawkeyes’ team captain, also displayed leadership off the turf, mentoring first-year box players.
“Conner did it all for us this summer,” said coach Bradley Voigt. “He played offense, defense, and was our main faceoff guy. On top of that, he was a great teammate and brought energy every practice. Conner is the heart of the team.”
Chris Schiller Unsung Hero – Kyle Meagher, Hawkeyes
Kyle Meagher is the youngest player in the UCBLL, as the upcoming high school senior recently turned 17 years old. The Penfield High School product has been stellar in goal, notching two wins and a .723 save percentage.
His biggest win of the year was on opening night as he stopped 24 shots in a 13-12 victory over the Armory. He was named Player of the Game for his efforts, which he followed up with a memorable effort in Buffalo one week later. Meagher made 34 saves in a 12-9 road victory.
For his consistency and hard work, the coaches and players named Meagher the team’s Unsung Hero.
“Not a lot of people know how hard it is to step in the cage, especially in box,” said Voigt. “Kyle was only 16 years old (when the season started), and he showed up for us this summer in big moments. Kyle never missed a practice and took hundreds of shots each time out, and never complained. We are all proud of him.”