It's a "the chicken or the egg" scenario: Did Joe Amplo win the 2014 Big East Coach of the Year because he put four players onto the all-conference teams in men's lacrosse's second season in Division 1 and first season in the Big East, or did Marquette getting four all-conference players in that timeframe earn Amplo the nod as the top coach in the league?
I'm inclined to believe that coaching matters for a second year program, but at the end of the day, it doesn't matter. After guiding his team to a 6-9 regular season - one win more than last year - and a 4-2 record and second place finish in the Big East, Joe Amplo was named the 2014 Big East Coach of the Year by a vote of his fellow coaches.
BJ Grill is one of six unanimous choices for the all-Big East First Team, joining a veritable who's who of Big East lacrosse. Grill made his mark this season by holding the 2014 Offensive Player of the Year Kieran McArdle without a goal in Marquette's 11-10 double overtime victory against St. John's. The 5'7" redshirt sophomore ranks third on Marquette with 34 ground balls and second in caused turnovers with 15.
Grill is joined on the First Team by the Big East's second best scorer, Tyler Melnyk. The redshirt senior from Calgary, Dramatic Pause, Alberta, Canada, broke his own Marquette single season points and goals records this season, scoring 36 goals and tallying 50 points overall. Melnyk and McArdle are the only two players in the Big East scoring more than 2.5 goals per game this season.
Marquette landed two players on the All-Big East Second Team. Midfielder Kyle Whitlow jumped up to second best on the team with 32 points (22G, 10A) this season after finishing third with 23 points a year ago. Liam Byrnes was named Defensive Player of the Week last week during his stellar sophomore campaign. The long stick midfielder from West Islip, NY, leads the Golden Eagles with 23 caused turnovers this season and ranks second on the team with 43 ground balls, even though he never started a game for MU this season.
That wraps up the Marquette portion of our show here, so let's turn things over to the rest of the conference awards.
Attack Player of the Year – Kieran McArdle, St. John’s, Sr.
Midfielder of the Year – Jeremy Noble, Denver, Sr.
Defensive Player of the Year – John LoCascio, Villanova, Sr., LSM
Goalkeeper of the Year – Ryan LaPlante, Denver, Jr.
The first three are exactly the three I picked in our awards predictions post, and Noble was a unanimous selection. LaPlante is a slight surprise, as he split time right down the middle with Jamie Faus for the Pioneers this season. Both LaPlante and Faus would have been easy choices for Goalkeeper of the Year if either one had played a majority of Denver's minutes, but since they didn't, I went in a different direction. LaPlante has been the starter for the majority of the Pios' season, so I can't really argue.
First Team All-BIG EAST
Wes Berg, Denver, Jr., A ^
Tyler Melnyk, Marquette, R-Sr., A
Kieran McArdle, St. John’s, Sr., A ^
Erik Adamson, Denver, Jr., M
Jeremy Noble, Denver, Sr., M ^
Peter Conley, Georgetown, Fr., M
Christian Burgdorf, Denver, Fr., D
B.J. Grill, Marquette, R-So., D ^
Chris Conroy, Villanova, Sr., D
John LoCascio, Villanova, Sr., LSM ^
Tyler Knarr, Georgetown, Gr., FOS ^
Jamie Faus, Denver, Sr., GK
Ryan LaPlante, Denver, Jr., GK
The carrots next to the names mark the unanimous choices for the First Team, and given the names involved, that's one hell of a crowd for BJ Grill to be joining in just his second season of Division 1 lacrosse.
My predictions had nine of the 13 first teamers accurate, and five of the six unanimous choices. Tyler Knarr slipped past Joseph Nardella in the face off percentage race and the ground balls race, so it makes sense that he earned the first team face off specialist spot. Faus landed an at large spot on the first team, so somehow, even though neither of them played 430 minutes this season (Marquette's Jimmy Danaher broke 600 without playing the entire year), both of Denver's goalies made the First team. In their limited time in net, both men were clearly deserving of the honors. I just figured that the minutes played would have an effect on the voting. The only one I really missed on was Burgdorf, and I gave a spot to Mark DiFrangia from St. John's. I can accept putting at least one Denver defender on this list since they went undefeated in league play.
Second Team All-BIG EAST %
Jack Bobzien, Denver, So., A
Scott Bieda, Rutgers, So., A
Kevin Cernuto, St. John’s, Sr., A
Kyle Whitlow, Marquette, R-So., M
Anthony Terranova, Rutgers, R-Sr., M
Ryan Fitzgerald, St. John’s, Sr., M
Jack Curran, Villanova, So., M
Nick Contino, Rutgers, Sr., D
Mark DiFrangia, St. John’s, Jr., D
Chris Piccirilli, Villanova, Sr., D
Liam Byrnes, Marquette, R-So., LSM
Joe Nardella, Rutgers, Jr., FOS
Dan Willis, Villanova, Fr., GK
And there's my choice for Goalkeeper of the Year, so that seems validated by Willis being chosen as "best non-Denver guy." Neither Scott Klimchak nor Colin Keegan made it to this team either, so I guess that's two misses for me on my predictions. Can't win them all, I guess.