What a week it's been for Rob Pannell, who couldn't believe he was about to make his Major League Lacrosse debut for the Lizards Friday night at Hofstra's Shuart Stadium less than 24 hours after being named the 2013 Tewaaraton Award winner.
Pannell, an All-American attack at Smithtown West as a senior, stood outside the home team's locker room discussing what it means to be the hometown favorite and the nation's top collegiate player before his team's matchup against the Charlotte Hounds.
"I never would have thought that I'd be here playing my first MLL game," said Pannell, who was selected No. 1 overall in the 2012 collegiate draft by the Lizards. "I was thrilled being drafted No. 1, playing in New York, my hometown. It's really special."
Pannell didn't waste any time making an impact in this one. The NCAA's all-time career scoring leader in total points (354), which he set this year in his fifth and final season at Cornell with a career-best 102 points on 47 goals and 55 assists, had a hat trick and an assist to help give the Lizards a 10-7 lead at the half.
The Hounds won, 14-12. Farmingdale's Matt Danowski (Duke) was named the player of the game after netting two goals in the fourth quarter.
"This is pretty special," said Pannell, who was also named the 2013 Ivy League Player of the Year and was a unanimous first-team All-Ivy honoree. "I couldn't be happier."
After surpassing Danowski and his 353 collegiate points, Pannell went against the fellow attack in his first game as a Lizard.
"Been busy the last couple of days," said Pannell, who was also glad to join his fellow collegiate teammate, Hewlett's Max Seibald (midfielder), on the Lizards. Seibald (foot injury), however, did not play in Friday night's game.
Pannell and Seibald are the only two Cornell players to win the nation's top collegiate award.
"Just looking to get a win and then interact with the fans, sign some autographs," Pannell said. "That's what makes these games great."