US Lacrosse has named the 1965 Navy men’s team and the 1975 U.S. Women’s Touring Team as the winners of its 2018 Team of Distinction Awards, recognizing outstanding contributions and impact to lacrosse made by an entire team during a specific era of participation.
Members of both teams will be officially honored on Friday, September 28 at the US Lacrosse Headquarters in Sparks, Maryland during the annual Hall of Fame Weekend festivities.
The 1965 Midshipmen are considered by some to be Navy’s all-time dominant college squad. In addition to completing a second undefeated season with a 10-0 record and winning the sixth of eight straight national championships, the ‘65 team also had seven players recognized as All-Americans, including four first team selectees: Jimmy Lewis (attack), Brian Lantier and Neil Henderson (midfield), and Pat Donnelly (defense). The season finale was played in front of an estimated 14,000 fans as Navy posted an 18-7 win over Army to complete its perfect season.
Hall of Fame coach Willis Bilderback piloted the squad, while fellow Hall of Famer Lewis became the first college player to win the Turnbull Award (best attackman) in three consecutive years (1964-66).
“The difficulty was not whether to choose the 1965 Navy team as the US Lacrosse Team of Distinction, but which Navy team to choose during this decade-long dominance of college lacrosse,” said Dom Starsia, chair of the US Lacrosse Men’s Game Hall of Fame Task Force, which made the selection. “This 1965 team finished undefeated, included the Schmeisser Award winner for outstanding defense, the Kelly Award winner for outstanding goalie, and the Turnbull Award winner for outstanding attack. Congratulations to a Navy team that defined excellence in every way.”
The 1975 U.S. Women’s Touring Team, sponsored by the United States Women’s Lacrosse Association, made history by completing a six-week, 13-game tour of England and Great Britain with an undefeated record. By defeating the British teams on their own soil for the first time, the 1975 squad established the United States as the number one team in the eyes of the international women’s lacrosse world.
The Americans outscored their opponents by a cumulative score of 187 to 27, and posted four shutouts among their 13 victories. For the first time ever, a U.S. touring team was also led by a head coach, with Hall of Famer Kathy Heinze serving in that role. Six other members of the team have also been inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame, with a seventh – Leigh Buck Friedman – joining in 2018.
Members of the 1975 touring team were: Janet Smith, Connie Lanzl, Janice Kuklick, Mike Werley, Janie Barbieri, Leigh Buck Friedman, Barb Doran, Claudia Handzlik, Barb Hutchinson, Sue King, Rose Ann Neff, Sally Wilson Owen, Mary Ann Smeltz, Sandy Walker, and Dottie Hayden (umpire).
“The 1975 U.S. Women’s Touring Team was the first international team to beat powerhouses England and Great Britain on their own soil,” said Chris Sailer of the US Lacrosse Women’s Game Hall of Fame Task Force. “The U.S. team came into the tour as underdogs, but utilizing quick passing, excellent stick work, close marking and a daunting fast break, they staked their claim as the best team in the world. Our committee is proud to select them for the US Lacrosse Team of Distinction honor.”
Primary criteria for the Team of Distinction Award include the following:
• Impact and contribution to the game of lacrosse.
• An extraordinary winning streak.
• National or World Championships won.
The US Lacrosse Men’s and Women’s Game Hall of Fame Task Forces make the selections for the award, although selection does not constitute election into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame. Selections are approved by the organization’s Board of Directors.
Created in 2016, the US Lacrosse Team of Distinction Award has been previously awarded to the 1950 Johns Hopkins University men's team and the 1969 U.S. Women's Touring Team.