When we last left Big East men’s lacrosse, Marquette and Denver were suffering home losses in the NCAA tournament. That wasn’t as much fun as the Golden Eagles going into the Mile High City and coming out with their first ever conference tournament title which led to their first ever NCAA tournament appearance.
Onwards we go into the 2017 season, then. Marquette starts their exhibition schedule off on January 21 on a trip to Michigan. They’ll play four exhibition matches before kicking off the regular season for real on February 18th while visiting the Jacksonville Dolphins. Given the coaching change for JU, that ought to be a pretty interesting start to the season, but that’s still more than a month away.
For now, we turn our attention to preseason awards in the Big East. Last year, the league announced the preseason awards on January 25th, so this gives us a nice bit of leeway to make sure those whacky coaches don’t catch us off guard.
Alrighty then, here we go! Brace yourself for a lot of Pioneers.......
Preseason Offensive Player Of The Year: Connor Cannizzaro, Denver
Last year’s Offensive Player of the Year led the Big East in goals and points per game and finished fourth in assists per game. We’re not going to over think this.
Preseason Defensive Player Of The Year: Christian Burgdorf, Denver
Burgdorf shared last year’s preseason DPOY award with Marquette’s Liam Byrnes, who was the postseason DPOY by himself. I’d imagine that the coaches will favor the New Jersey native yet again after he was on the all-league First Team at the end of 2016.
All-Big East Team
Trevor Baptiste, Faceoff, Denver
Christian Burgdorf, Defense, Denver
Connor Cannizzaro, Attack, Denver
Jason DeBenedictis, Attack, St. John’s
Jake Froccaro, Attack, Villanova
Charlie Ford, LSM, Georgetown
Ryan McNamara, Midfield, Marquette
Zach Miller, Midfield, Denver
Tyler Pace, Midfield, Denver
Jarrod Neumann, Defense, Providence
Alex Ready, Goalkeeper, Denver
BREAKING NEWS: Denver is loaded with talented players. I know, right? This list of dudes was pretty simple to assemble. Nine of them were on last year’s All-Big East First Team. DeBenedicitis and Pace are my two additions to the all-league squad, and I think they’re pretty easy picks. DeBenedictis finished fifth in the league in goals per game a year ago and ninth in points. Pace was third in assists and tops amongst players returning for this season and 10th in points per game.
Predicted Order Of Finish
1 - Denver
2 - Marquette
3 - Villanova
4 - Georgetown
5 - St. John’s
6 - Providence
Hey, look, I put the two teams in the USILA preseason top 20 as the top two teams. What a surprise. If you’re picking someone other than Denver to win the Big East, you’re just doing it to be whacky and not actually basing it on, y’know, facts. Yes, Marquette beat the Pioneers in the Big East tournament championship match last year. But that’s MU’s only win over DU in program history, so let’s not get too far over our skis in expecting good things from the Golden Eagles this season.
Villanova’s got a bad taste in their mouths after scuffling down the stretch last season, so we can expect them to make a push to contend for the NCAA tournament again this season. The rest of the league.... I dunno. If Peter Conley is healthy for Georgetown after getting cut down by injury in both of the last two seasons, the Hoyas could do some damage. St. John’s will be buoyed by Jason DeBenedicitis’ offense, while Providence might struggle after losing Will Mazzone, a top five scorer in the Big East last season.