Nov 9, 2012, 8:50 PM EDT
Nearly two years ago to this day, senior striker Ryan Finley was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Offensive Player of the Year. He was just a sophomore at the time, and many assumed that this high honor was the first in what would eventually prove to be a long line of similar personal accolades for the Lumberton, New Jersey native.
But then Finley transferred from Duke to Notre Dame. Dreams of winning ACC Offensive Player of the Year three years in a row were laid to rest. Heck, even earning a spot on the all-conference team was not a guarantee for the former phenom. But Finley meshed well with the Irish from the start, and was named second team all-BIG EAST following his junior campaign. Good, yes, but not quite what he used to be.
But any doubts about Finley’s return to stardom have been quelled by a magnificent senior season. He is currently second in the nation with 18 goals and third with 40 points. Both totals are tops in the BIG EAST. For these feats, Finley was named the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year on Thursday, becoming the third Irish player to win the award.
Finley was quick to attribute the accolade to the work of his teammates.
“Obviously it’s an honor to be recognized by the BIG EAST, such a prestigious conference,” Finley said. “But the award speaks volumes about our team. I look at it as a team award given to an individual player.”
The senior was hesitant to single out any one player as being especially instrumental to his success, saying that everyone on the team does his part. However, Finley did shine light the efforts of one teammate in particular.
“I have to give a lot of credit to my partner in crime, Harry Shipp,” Finley said. “We’ve really gelled together. Now we know what each other are going to do without even thinking about it.”
Finley and Shipp, a junior forward, begin each game on the bench and typically enter midway through the first half. The duo proceeds to stay in for the rest of the game. Shipp acts more as the distributor, Finley as the scorer. Shipp is second on the squad with five assists.
“Having skilled players like Harry that read my runs is a great spot for me to be in,” Finley said. “My bread and butter is making runs and finishing them off.”
In winning Offensive Player of the Year in two major conferences, Finley undoubtedly joins a select group of players. The senior said winning the award the second time around was a completely different experience than the first. As is typical with Ryan Finley, his reasoning had nothing to do with himself, but with the team.
“My sophomore year, our team was good, but we didn’t have national championship visions,” Finley said. “This year, the golden nugget is still hanging out in front of us. We have a chance to be special in December.”
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