We passed another waypoint on the path to the start of the 2017 lacrosse season last Thursday when the Big East announced the preseason awards for women’s lacrosse. Yes, I know it’s been nearly a week. Hush.
YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles were picked to finish sixth in the 10 team league this season. In addition, Julianna Shearer and Allison Lane were named to the 15 player preseason all-conference team.
Shearer set single season program records for goals and draw controls a year ago and earned All-Big East Second Team honors for her efforts. She was an incredibly reliable scorer for head coach Meredith Black, scoring in all but two games and recording 13 multi-goal games.
Lane was a unanimous pick for the preseason all-conference team after earning First Team honors following the 2016 campaign. She trailed only Shearer in goals in draw controls last season, and had it not been for her teammate, Lane would be the current single season record holder for both categories.
Here’s the full rundown on the team voting:
1 - Florida (9), 81 points
2 - Connecticut, 68 points
3 - Georgetown, 63 points
4 - Denver, 55 points
5 - Temple, 45 points
6 - Marquette, 41 points
7 - Vanderbilt (1), 40 points
8 - Villanova, 31 points
9 - Cincinnati, 17 points
10 - Butler, 9 points
I know that Marquette lost a notable chunk of seniors last year, but the Golden Eagles finished tied for third a year ago, and now I’m expected to believe that a team that returns its top two goal scorers and its top four point scorers is gonna drop down this hard? PLUS they get Claire Costanza, the program’s all time leader in points and assists, back after missing all of 2016 due to an injury? Yeah, I don’t think so, guys. If you can find a sports book that will give you odds on head coach Meredith Black winning Big East Coach Of The Year, feel free to gamble on that with my blessing.
I’ve got no qualms with the Gators as the #1 team in the league, nor with them being a unanimous choice as the favorite. Unsurprisingly, first year squad Butler has unseated Cincinnati from their traditional spot in the basement of the league. Denver’s in the Big East for the first year, but the Pioneers were a solid squad last season, so getting a top four spot isn’t too odd, especially since there appears to be a clear drop off after Connecticut and Georgetown. The weird part is that Vanderbilt picked up the first place vote from Florida head coach Amanda O’Leary. Coaches can’t vote for their own teams here, so O’Leary had to vote for someone..... and she picked a team that without her vote was tied with 8th place Villanova. This has a “SEC teams gotta stick together” vibe attached to it, and I don’t care for it.
Let’s move on to some individual awards, shall we?
Preseason Co-Offensive Players of the Year: Sammi Burgess and Lindsey Ronbeck, Florida
There are a bunch of haters amongst the Big East women’s lacrosse coaches. Three players in the Big East finished last season with averaging more than three points per game. Two of them were seniors, the other one was Connecticut’s Grace Nolan, and she actually led the league in points per game. In fact, she averaged nearly a full point more (3.53) than both Burgess (2.7) and Ronbeck (2.6). Nolan is the leading returning goal scorer in the league, and two more returning players averaged more goals than Burgess. There’s another two returning players (we’ve now covered both Shearer and Lane, by the way) between Burgess and Ronbeck.
YET SOMEHOW, they’re splitting OPOY while Grace Nolan has to settle for an all-league spot. That is some seriously uncalled for shade, people. Hell, Nolan had to share last year’s OPOY award with Burgess, but now we’re just magically forgetting that happened and handing votes over to Ronbeck? Pssssssh.
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Caroline Fitzgerald, Florida
Fitzgerald was DPOY at the end of last season, so this is not a surprise in the slightest. Weird how the coaches make an obvious choice on one award, but completely blow the other one.
All-Big East Team
Taylor Bresnahan, Florida, Sr., D
Sammi Burgess, Florida, Sr., A*
Cassie Ekstrom, Connecticut, Jr. D
Caroline Fitzgerald, Florida, Sr., D*
Morgan Glassford, Temple, Sr., M*
Callahan Kent, Vanderbilt, Sr., GK
Allison Lane, Marquette, Jr., M*
Brenda McDermott, Temple, Grad., A
Nicole Martindale, Denver, R-Jr., A
Grace Nolan, Connecticut, Jr., A*
Shayna Pirreca, Florida, Jr., A
Lindsey Ronbeck, Florida, So., A*
Julianna Shearer, Marquette, Sr., A
Mollie Stevens, Florida, Sr., M
Francesca Whitehurst, Georgetown, So., M*
The asterisks mark the unanimous choices for this team, and I can’t say that any of them are undeserving. All seven of them were on my preseason squad, and I thought most of those were obvious picks. The Big East went with a 15 woman squad, while I picked only 12 players for my team and 11 of them are in the official 15 members. Nicely done by me, especially since the 12th was a gamble on Denver’s best defensive player.
The players I did not have are McDermott, Pirreca, Shearer, and Stevens, and I don’t even fault myself on missing on McDermott. Had Temple not decided to play the same “uh, they’re a senior because they’re graduating, but it’s only their third year of eligibility” game that Georgetown likes to play in women’s soccer, I probably would have included her in my picks. Thanks for nothing, Temple. Pirreca, Shearer, and Stevens are all deserving of their all-conference honors, I just think it’s silly to have an all-conference team that’s bigger than the squad you can put on the field.
Marquette begins the 2017 season on Friday, February 10th, when they host Louisville in the bubble at Valley Fields.
You can check out the full press release on the Big East awards right here.