The confusing assemblage of teams that constitute women's lacrosse under the banner of the Big East got slightly more confusing since last spring. Rutgers and Louisville are gone, as they moved from the American Athletic Conference to the Big Ten and ACC, respectively. Both of those leagues do sponsor women's lacrosse, so Rutgers and Louisville have homes there. The formation of the Big Ten's women's lacrosse league rang the death knell for the American Lacrosse Conference, however, as Michigan, Northwestern, Ohio State, and Penn State all departed. That left Florida and Vanderbilt without a home, though, and they've been welcomed with open arms by a Big East that suddenly found themselves with two open slots.
Thus, we have a new constitution of the league, but we still have eight teams, including a powerhouse Gators team. Let's see how that affects the preseason awards, shall we?
Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Shannon Gilroy, M, Florida
Well, that got affected quickly. As a junior, Gilroy averaged more goals (4.09) and more points (5.05) per game than anyone in the Big East last season, and definitely way more than any returning player. The fact that she's the only Big East player on the preseason Inside Lacrosse First Team All-American list is just icing on the cake.
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Adrianne Devine, D, Georgetown
Devine finished second in the Big East in caused turnovers a year ago, averaging just short of two per game. She's one of just two defenders on last year's all-Big East First Team that are returning this season, and as the more experienced player, Devine gets the easy nod.
All-Big East Team
Hayley Baas, M, Marquette
Nora Barry, M, Florida
Taylor Bresnahan, D, Florida
Sammi Burgess, A, Florida
Ali Crofts, M, Connecticut
Adrianne Devine, D, Georgetown
Katherine Finkelston, A, Connecticut
Caroline Fitzgerald, D, Florida
Shannon Gilroy, M, Florida
Elizabeth Goslee, D, Marquette
Chelsey Henderson, M, Villanova
Shannon Nee, GK, Connecticut
Mallory Schonk, A, Vanderbilt
Caroline Tarzian, A, Georgetown
Nicole Tiernan, M, Temple
So, Florida's pretty good, huh? It wasn't even close to difficult to put five Gators on this all-conference team list, since they're ranked #3 in the country in the Inside Lacrosse preseason top 20. Compounding the issue is the fact that between Louisville, Rutgers, and seniors, the Big East lost 12 of the 16 players that finished on the all-conference First Team a year ago. Someone (or a lot of someones, really) has to fill those slots, and when you add a team as good as Florida is, there's going to be a lot of Gators in those spots.
The rest of the list is mostly made up of returning players from the all-Big East First and Second teams from a year ago, so they seem like easy picks. Vanderbilt's Mallory Schonk is on the list because she averaged more assists than any returning player in the Big East last season.
Top Four Teams
Well, you have to start with the two teams that made the NCAA tournament a year ago, right? Connecticut's got the best goalie coming back to the Big East this season, and a few more solid pieces in place. Nova's kind of just a blind guess, but I don't know how you can put any of the other four squads in front of the Wildcats at this point. Yes, there's two Golden Eagles on that all-conference team I put together, but I just can't see Marquette making that big of a jump in their third season of Division 1 competition.