A three pack of games on Saturday mark the end of the regular season for men's lacrosse in the Big East. The top four teams will convene in Denver for the Big East tournament on Thursday, May 5, so the league's going to announce the postseason awards at some point in between there. We're going to make our predictions now so we can't get sneak attacked by a Sunday morning press release. "Oh, come on, they won't do that, would they?" The league office gets awfully sneaky with the results of the coaches' voting, so we're not going to take anything for granted.
Here we go, then.......
Offensive Player of the Year: Connor Cannizzaro, Attack, Denver
The junior leads the Big East in total points and points per game. This award isn't necessarily like the Art Ross Trophy in the NHL, but if you're making a pick, it's hard to go wrong with that guideline. Villanova's Jake Froccaro has two more goals than Cannizzaro, so I suppose he's a possibility, too. Providence's Will Mazzone has just one fewer point than Cannizzaro, but it took him one more game to get there.
Defensive Player of the Year: Liam Byrnes, Defense, Marquette
I don't really have a good reason for this. Byrnes is one of three non-goalie and non-faceoff players who have won Defensive Player of the Week this season.... and all three play for Marquette. B.J. Grill and Jacob Richard are the other two, but it was Byrnes who won the preseason version of this award. The Golden Eagles have the third best scoring defense in the country and the best defense in the Big East. The Big East lists five occurrences of someone recording four or more caused turnovers..... and Byrnes has three of them, including the only game with five caused turnovers.
Midfielder of the Year: Trevor Baptiste, FOGO, Denver
Baptiste won this award last year, and since he's winning 69% of his faceoffs this year for the #2 scoring offense in the country, I have a hard time picking anyone else out to take it from him. I should point out that I'm viewing this from the perspective of my heavily Marquette tilted side of things. Ryan McNamara started the year as a midfielder, but he moved to attack after Kyle Whitlow's season ending injury. If the coaches decide to still consider him a midfielder, then he could easily win this due to being top five in goals, assists, and points, plus leading the Big East in game winning goals. I'm considering him an attacker, though, thus my pick of Baptiste.
Goalkeeper of the Year: Alex Ready, Denver
He's got the best goals-against average in the league, and the best save percentage in the league. On top of that, he's a freshman minding the net for the defending national champions who are ranked #1 in the country right now. I don't think you can even make an argument for anyone else.
Coach of the Year: Bill Tierney, Denver
Defending national champs, preseason favorites to win the league, currently ranked #1 in the country, only one loss on the season. This should be pretty easy. However, if the ballots don't have to be turned in until after Saturday's game and Marquette pulls the upset against the Pioneers and wins the regular season title, then I can see the coaches voting for Joe Amplo instead. Even if that happens, it should still probably be Tierney.
All-Big East Team:
Trevor Baptiste, FOGO, Denver
Liam Byrnes, D, Marquette
Connor Cannizzaro, A, Denver
Jack Curran, M, Villanova
Jake Froccaro, A, Villanova
B.J. Grill, D, Marquette
Will Mazzone, A, Providence
Zach Miller, M, Denver
John Moderski, D, Villanova
Tyler Pace, M, Denver
Alex Ready, GK, Denver
Cannizzaro, Byrnes, and Ready are all in there courtesy of their individual awards, as is Baptiste, I guess. Technically he's in there on the FOGO line and not a midfielder line, but you see where I'm coming from there. From there, it was as simple as filling in around those guys to get to three each on attack, midfield, and defense. Froccaro and Mazzone were easy choices on attack, as was Grill on defense. Moderski was on the weekly honor roll twice this season, so he makes as much sense as anyone else. Curran, Miller, and Pace are mostly guesses in the midfield. There haven't been a lot of middies getting notice in the weekly awards this year, but Curran does have an Offensive Player of the Week nod, so that makes sense. He and Pace are tied for second in assists per game this season, and both have at least 35 points this season. Miller is pushing the envelope a little bit, but he is top 10 in assists per game and has two honor roll nods. Honestly, this probably would have been a lot easier if Kyle Whitlow hadn't gotten hurt, because I'm guessing both Whitlow and Ryan McNamara would be in the midfield slots.