MEQUON, Wis. -- Concordia Wisconsin's Atheltic Department has announced that Garrett Wohlford of the Men's Lacrosse program has been named the 2018-19 Male Athlete of the Year.
The CUW Athletic Department released its top stories of the year over the past few weeks and this week announced its four major award winners from the 2018-19 season. On Monday Ashley Solberg was announced as the Female Career Achievement Award winner, on Tuesday Garrett Wohlford was named Male Career Achievement Award winner and on Thursday Molly O'Connell received Female Athlete of the Year honors.
He came in just wanting a chance to compete for playing time and possibly the starting goalkeeping position. He just wanted to make the program better. He took advantage of some unfortunate injuries to other players at his position and played so well it put the program on the national radar. He changed the way people view Concordia Wisconsin Men’s Lacrosse.
He is Garrett Wohlford.
Concordia Wisconsin had a good men’s lacrosse program four years ago, but things changed when a 5-foot-10 goalkeeper was announced as the starting goalkeeper prior to the 2016 season. A few injuries had elevated the rookie into the role of starter and Garrett Wohlford began his four-year history making run between the pipes as one of the best student-athletes to ever wear a Falcon uniform.
Fast forward to today and it’s safe to say the Falcons have garnered national respect after Wohlford helped the program accomplish championship level status during his time. He won more awards and was recognized more often than any player ever in Men’s Lacrosse history, and for that matter, is in rarified air as one of the greatest athletes in school history.
It all began on February 20, 2016 in University Heights, Ohio during the season opener at John Carroll. Despite the loss, Wohlford made 13 saves and cemented himself as the starter for the future. He made four saves in each of the first two quarters and three within a two-minute span late in the game, as the Falcons were making a run to send the game into overtime.
His playmaking abilities shined that day and many, many times over the next four years.
“It was kind of in my first game against John Carroll that I realized I could play at this level,” Wohlford said. “I made a huge save after they were coming down the middle and the cutter was coming across, and I stopped the ball with him in my face. I played well that game and it felt like it could be my job as the starting goalie the rest of the year.”
It surely was his job to keep and he went on to set numerous game, season and career records over his historic run as the starter. Over the past three years the Falcons have ranked no worse than 10th nationally in scoring defense, even ranking second this year.
When head coach Michael Fahey was asked if Garrett Wohlford made his job easier and before the question was even completed, he said “Yes, 100 percent.”
Wohlford just had an effect on his teammates, especially over the past two seasons, as he was selected as a captain and learned what it took to be a leader. The 2019 season featured 14 seniors who had all experienced hardships and successes during this careers, but it was Wohlford who led by example and when he spoke those around him listened.
“Garrett really grew up in four years,” Fahey expressed. “I think he really grew as a person and obviously as a player, commanding the defense. This year really showed his leadership abilities, being vocal and demanding more of his teammates. It was really nice to see that all come together. Garrett was a player we could really get after and push hard, and he would respond positively. He was really easy to coach.”
The Falcons won a lot of games over the past four seasons, 53 in all. They advanced to the MLC Tournament Championship game all four years, winning it this past year for the first time in program history. What was also impressive was their MLC record over the past four years, putting together a 31-3 mark against league foes.
“I think having 14 seniors was important this year and some really good underclassmen who have been through the hardships of not winning the title in the past,” Fahey added. ”We were just really balanced this year and had guys step up throughout the season and in big moments. There was an unbelievable amount of injuries, but we had guys step up to fill the void when needed. Anytime you have a goalie like Garrett you can win a lot of games.”
Wohlford was a breakthrough player we have never seen before and may never see again, a player who set the example that things can be accomplished as a team and individually. The Falcons proved to themselves their abilities against some of the better teams in the nation. There were players who have won major conference awards in years past, as did Wohlford, but he helped make the team great. He wasn’t the flashiest player, but he always stayed humble when the accolades came his way. Even though he received a wall full of plaques during his career, his efforts helped others change their thinking about Concordia Wisconsin Men’s Lacrosse and made the program be noticed on a national level.
The wall full of plaques mentioned that you just read include: USILA All-America, IMLCA All-Region four times, MLC Defensive Player of the Year four times, All-MLC First Team four times, MLC Defensive Player of the Week 10 times and MLC Rookie of the Year. As well, this season he led the nation (all divisions) in save percentage (.671) and was second in goals-against average (6.37). He also had 11 games with double-digit saves and posted a 15-4 record.
Nevertheless, Wohlford was a great player that has left a void for the future.
“I just wanted to leave this program better than when I started,” Wohlford said. “It did a lot for me and I just wanted to give something back for how it has changed me for the better.”
2018-19 CUW Athletics Awards
Female Career Achievement Award: Ashley Solberg
Male Career Achievement Award: Garrett Wohlford
Female Athlete of the Year: Molly O'Connell
Male Athlete of the Year: Garrett Wohlford