There's just two league games and one non-conference game left to play in Big East women's lacrosse. Both games between Big East foes have a significant role to play in which two teams get the final two spots in the Big East tournament, but we'll get to that tomorrow.
For now, we're going to get a jump on the league office and predict how the Big East coaches will vote for the 2016 postseason awards. If we don't get these predictions out before the regular season ends, then we run the risk of of the conference releasing the award winners as soon as Sunday's Connecticut-Towson game ends, and we're not going to get caught off guard like that. At least, not again. You're very sneaky, Big East.
Onwards to the best women's lacrosse players in the Big East this season......
Attacker Of The Year: Grace Nolan, Connecticut
A Husky is winning this award, that much I know for sure. I'm going with Nolan as my pick. She leads the Big East in total points by eight points and leads in points per game too, recording 56 points on 41 goals and 15 assists. Nolan finished second in the league in goals by just two markers, and she was one of just six players to average at least one assist per game.
However, this might end up going to her teammate, Katherine Finkelston. She's the one who has two more goals than Nolan, and if the coaches want to vote just for who has the goals lead, then Finkelston is going to win this going away. Finkelston did have the advantage in the weekly version of the award, taking it four times against just two for Nolan. I'm sticking with the more complete statistical profile, though.
Midfielder Of The Year: Nicole Graziano, Florida
She's sitting fourth in the league in goals and fourth in points as well. She's not that far off the top 10 for assists, recording 14 helpers in 17 games this season. Only four women won the weekly edition of this award, and Graziano picked it up five times with the other three only getting it two times each.
Defensive Player Of The Year: Taylor Bresnahan, Florida
Six women were named Defensive Player of the Week this season. Five of them were goalies. The sixth was Bresnahan. Now, she only won it twice, but we've got to base this on something, and that's about all we've really got. Cincinnati's Kyara Byner leads the Big East in "ground balls by a non-goalie" and she's the only player in the league to average more than two caused turnovers per game. That would seem to be a really solid case for DPOY, but, uh, Cincy's, y'know, not good.
Goalie Of The Year: Jaqi Kakalecik, Temple
The senior leads the Big East in goals-against average, posting the only sub-7.00 mark of the season. If Florida's Mary-Sean Wilcox had allowed just one more goal this season, Kakalecik would have the only sub-8.00 GAA in the league. She's second in save percentage, stopping 49% of shots on goal compared to 52% for Connecticut's Shannon Nee. This award could tip in Nee's favor, since she's averaging more than 10 saves per game, while Kakalecik is waaaaaay down there with fewer than seven saves per game. Nee was being asked to do more to keep the Huskies in the NCAA tournament discussion this season, so I could see the coaches voting for her instead.
Rookie Of The Year: Lindsey Ronbeck, Attack, Florida
Tied for sixth in the league in points as a freshman, the best such rank in her class. She doesn't rank in goals per game, but she's tied for seventh in the Big East in assists per game. While she's not one of the 10 best goal scorers in the conference, her timing is exquisite. Four of her 29 goals were game winners this season, and that mark of four is tied with UConn's Katherine Finkelston and Temple's Megan Tiernan for the most gamewinners in the league this season.
Oh, and she won Freshman of the Week four times, twice as many times as Marquette's Grace Gabriel, the only other rook to win it more than once this season.
Coach Of The Year: Meredith Black, Marquette
This is a little bit of seeing into the future here. Marquette has never lost to Cincinnati, and that's the only regular season game left on the schedule for the Golden Eagles. If MU beats UC on Friday night in Milwaukee, then Marquette will earn their first ever bid to the Big East tournament. They've already posted program bests in both overall wins and Big East wins, and I think qualifying for the Big East tournament will clinch COTY for Black. That's going with the idea that "coaches like to vote for coaches that defy the odds," because I really don't know how you don't vote for Florida's Amanda O'Leary. Florida went 7-0 in Big East play and have just one loss on the season, and that was against Maryland, the only team that's currently in front of the #2 Gators in the media top 20 poll.
All Big East Team:
Taylor Bresnahan, D, Florida
Kyara Byner, D, Cincinnati
Kelly Chandler, M, Vanderbilt
Cassie Eckstrom, D, Connecticut
Katherine Finkelston, A, Connecticut
Elizabeth Goslee, D, Marquette
Nicole Graziano, M, Florida
Jaqi Kakalecik, GK, Temple
Allison Lane, M, Marquette
Brenda McDermott, A, Temple
Grace Nolan, A, Connecticut
Julianna Shearer, A, Marquette
Bresnahan, Graziano, Kakalecik, and Nolan are all in on their individual awards. That's an easy move. Finkelston is leading the league in goals, so that's a no-brainer. Chandler is third in goals as a middie, also a no-brainer. McDermott is third in the Big East in points, so that was a pretty easy pick.
Things got a little tougher from there. I might be a little homer-riffic on Lane and Shearer, but they've got the scoring numbers to back it up, and they're both amongst the league leaders in draw controls to help their cases. Bresnahan is the only non-goalie to be named Defensive Player of the Week, and no defender made the Honor Roll more than once, so I'm kind of just guessing on Byner, Eckstrom, and Goslee. They're the league leaders in caused turnovers, so that's going to be my guideline on where to go for that.