NEW LONDON, Conn.--Connecticut College junior Ben Parens of Sleepy Hollow, N.Y. and senior Alex Calabro of Newton, Mass. have been honored on the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association Nike All-American (USILA) Team.
Parens is being honored as a First Team Selection for the second straight year. He enjoyed another terrific season at the X, ranking fourth in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) with 254 face-off wins and third 127 ground balls. He's 11th in the nation with a .688 winning percentage and is ranked 16th in the country with his 8.47 ground balls per game.
Parens moved into second place on the program's all-time list with his 355 ground balls. He needs just 74 more to pass Chris Perkins as the all-time leader. He has earned First Team All-NESCAC accolades in each of his first three seasons with the Camels.
"What can you say about Ben?" Connecticut College Head Men's Lacrosse Coach Dave Cornell said. "He is just a great player. I have never coached a better fogo in my career. If he keeps playing like this, I believe he'll have a future in the MLL (Major League Lacrosse). He's that good. Having him just gives our team so much confidence every time we take the field. There is not a face-off man in the country that prepares more than he does and he knows that when he steps on the field which gives him a distinct mental edge. He's a once in a lifetime player that I'm blessed to coach and I'm really excited to see him next year as he'll help teach our next wave face-off men coming in."
Calabro capped off his career as a USILA Third Team All-American selection. His hard work and determination paid major dividends for the Camels this spring. Facing a major physical and mental challenge of overcoming a serious injury to his knee, Calabro recovered from his torn ACL in just eight months. On the field, the senior tri-captain was a disruptive force in the midfield. Calabro finished 12th in the conference with his 62 ground balls to go with 11 caused turnovers, adding three goals and five assists for the Camels. He joined Parens on the All-NESCAC First Team, wrapping up his career with 109 ground balls and 24 caused turnovers for Connecticut College.
"I don't know if I've ever been prouder of player than Alex Calabro," Coach Cornell said. "I'm thrilled for him. People outside of this program don't know his story and what he's gone through the last four years. He was barely recruited as a midfielder, played a little his frosh year and then missed almost all of his sophomore year with a hamstring injury. We asked him to pick up a long stick going into his junior year and all he says is "yes sir, whatever the team needs." By mid-season he is starting for us and then he blows his knee out in the next to last game of the year. In the fall of his senior year, he woke up several times a week at 6:30 a.m. to travel 20 minutes to rehab his leg with Coach Frank. He literally never missed a day. He eventually gets cleared to play by the doctors one week before the season. He then proceeds to comes in second place in our strength and conditioning test. I was hoping he might be able to step on the field for us by late March. Instead, he looks more athletic than ever and was an unbelievable example, role model and inspiration for all of our team. The man never came off the field all year. He is an incredible warrior. It was truly my honor to coach such a tremendous young man the last four years. Nobody deserves this award more than him. He earned it everyday."
Under the direction of Coach Cornell, the Camels made their seventh appearance in the NESCAC Championship in the past eight years.
"I've said it before," Coach Cornell asserted. "There are no magic potions or short cuts to success in college athletics. You need to earn it. These two men earned it everyday. Every person in our program needs to see it, accept it and challenge themselves. If we're really serious about winning the NESCAC and a National Championship, these two to me are the example of what type of effort it takes. If you're not willing to match that effort, you're only fooling yourself. Anything less is unacceptable."