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Marquette Men's Lacrosse: Liam Byrnes Named 2016 Big East Preseason Co-Defensive Player of the Year

Byrnes is joined by three more Golden Eagles on the all-Big East team. PLUS: A look at how our preseason picks match up with the actual awards!

Liam Byrnes, playing some hard nosed D against Georgetown.
Liam Byrnes, playing some hard nosed D against Georgetown.

The Big East has announced the men's lacrosse preseason awards, as voted on by the league's coaches.  The biggest news of the day for Marquette fans is that senior long stick midfielder Liam Byrnes was named Co-Defensive Player of the Year.  He ended up in a tie with Denver's Christian Burgdorf, who earned the postseason version of that award last season.

Byrnes was a First Team All-Big East performer in 2015 after becoming Marquette's all time leader in ground balls in 2015 along with leading the team in caused turnovers that season as well.  In addition to his postseason accolades a year ago, Byrnes was named to Inside Lacrosse's Preseason All-American Third Team, and on Friday, he became the first Marquette player ever selected in the Major League Lacrosse collegiate draft.  Byrnes is the first Marquette player to earn an individual honor from the Big East for either preseason or postseason awards.

The DPOY award earned Byrnes a spot on the preseason all-Big East team as well, where he was joined by three more of his teammates.  BJ Grill, also a selection in the MLL Draft on Friday, joins Byrnes on the defensive side of things, while Conor Gately was one of three attackers on the all-league squad and Kyle Whitlow was part of the trio of midfielders on the team.  Whitlow is Marquette's all time goals leader, while Gately is Marquette's all time points leader.

In other news from the Big East's awards, Marquette was picked to finish third in the six team Big East.  Defending national champion Denver was the unanimous pick to win the league, while Georgetown picked up the first place vote from Pioneers head coach Bill Tierney to end up trailing DU in the points race, 25 to 21.  Marquette slotted in with 16 points, followed closely behind by Villanova at 13 points.  Providence (8 points) and St. John's (7 points) are safely down in the bottom tier of the league.

The Big East's preseason Offensive Player of the Year is exactly who you'd expect it to be: Denver junior attacker Connor Cannizzaro.  He set a Denver record for points in a season last year, as the Pioneers won their second straight Big East title along with the NCAA championship.  He's the leading scorer amongst returning players in the Big East, so he was the easy and obvious choice.

Here's the full list of the all-Big East squad:

Nick Marrocco, Georgetown, So., GK ^
Connor Cannizzaro, Denver, Jr., A^
Eric DeJohn, St. John's, Sr., A^
Craig Berge, Georgetown, So., M
Conor Gately, Marquette, Sr., A^
Peter Conley, Georgetown, Jr., M ^
Zach Miller, Denver, Jr., M ^
Kyle Whitlow, Marquette, R-Sr., M ^
Christian Burgdorf, Denver, Jr., D ^
B.J. Grill, Marquette, Grad Student, D ^
Jarrod Neumann, Providence, Jr., D ^
Liam Byrnes, Marquette, Grad Student, LSM ^
Trevor Baptiste, Denver, So., FOS ^

You see all the little carrots next to everyone's name except for Georgetown's Craig Berge?  That's because they were all unanimous choices for the all league team.  Every single coach in the league voted for 12 of the 13 players on the team.  That's nuts!

Then again, I guess it's not that nuts, as those 12 men are the exact 12 man team that I had in our predictions post.  I laid out how I went about putting that team together, and those 12 seemed to be blatantly obvious choices based on performances in 2015 and who was returning in 2016.  The only player I missed was Berge, and he was the only player that wasn't a unanimous choice.  Pretty good job of prognosticating, if I do say so myself.

Marquette and Denver are tied for the most players on the all-Big East team with four a piece.  St. John's and Villanova are not represented on the all-league team.  St. John's makes sense, given that the Red Storm are picked to finish last this season.  I am a little bit surprised to see that the coaches didn't include someone from Villanova, what with the Wildcats starting the season ranked in the USILA poll, but like I said, the 12 unanimous choices for the squad all made perfect sense to me.