Way back on Wednesday, the Big East announced the postseason awards for women’s lacrosse. YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles did not win any individual awards this season, but three players were named to the all-conference teams. Senior attacker Julianna Shearer and sophomore midfielder Grace Gabriel are on the First Team, while junior midfielder Allison Lane is on the Second Team.
Shearer led the Big East in goals (55) and shots (109) this season, both of which are Marquette single season records. Shearer tallied 30 goals in the nine game league schedule, which was also tops in the Big East, as she scored at least twice in each game and had at least three goals in each of MU’s last seven contests. Shearer’s name showed up on the scoresheet with a goal in each of Marquette’s 17 games this season and she had at least a hat trick in 11 of them.
“Next to Elizabeth Goslee, Jules is the hardest worker to come through this program,” Black said. “Every goal she scored, she earned through her hard work. As our top-scorer, she often drew the other team’s top defender and for her to have at least two goals in every BIG EAST game is so impressive.”
This is the first ever all-league honor for Gabriel as she was one of seven unanimous choices for the First Team. This, of course, raises the question of how Shearer, the league’s leading scorer, was left off of at least one coach’s ballot, but let’s keep it moving. Gabriel destroyed Marquette’s single season record for draw controls, racking up 81 this season to rank third in the conference. She also ranked eighth in the league in goals with 41, joining Shearer as the only two players to ever score 40 goals in a season for Marquette. Gabriel matched Shearer with a goal in every game this season and recorded a hat trick on six occasions.
"I think Grace is one of the most athletic players I’ve ever coached," Black said. "She’s really worked on her mental toughness and ability to overcome every obstacle that comes her way. Whether it’s trying to beat the other team's top-defender or getting off to a slow start, Grace has a way of stepping up in crucial times and has proven to be the true definition of a midfielder. Grace is very impressive to watch and extremely fun to coach. I’m excited to see how the rest of her career unfolds."
Lane had an injury shortened season as she missed two games in the middle of the season and came off the bench in a third. She still ranked third on the team with 24 goals, and was a steady performer all season long and perhaps the definition of a two-way midfielder. In addition to her 28 points on the season, Lane also recorded 21 ground balls, 31 draw controls, and matched her career high with 16 caused turnovers.
"I’m so happy for Allison because she is the best leader we have on the field," Black said. "She is so reliable and so steady. She had an unfortunate year with injury, being out a couple games in the middle of the year including one BIG EAST game, and was still able to capture BIG EAST second team. I was so happy for her to be able to bring home this honor."
Moving on to the Big East’s individual awards....
Attacker of the Year: Mollie Stevens, Florida
I thought this one was a bit of a toss-up this season with at least five different players having an argument for this trophy in one way or another. The coaches went with the best goal scorer on the best team, whereas I picked the best points average on the best team, which would be Stevens’ teammate Sammi Burgess. Oh well.
Midfielder of the Year: Francesca Whitehurst, Georgetown
This was my pick as well, but I didn’t really have a great reason for it. Whitehurst had more Midfielder of the Week honors than anyone else in the league, so that made as much sense as anything else. She was one of three middies that were unanimous choices to the First Team, so this vote may have been very close.
Defensive Player of the Year: Caroline Fitzgerald, Florida
The coaches keep voting for her, so there’s no reason to be surprised here. Fitzgerald was the preseason DPOY, so without anything to point at anyone else as an obvious choice to dethrone her, she gets the postseason trophy, too.
Goalkeeper of the Year: Haley Hicklen, Florida
It was either going to be Hicklen or Denver’s Maddy Stevenson, as the pair combine to be #1/#2 in goals-against average and save percentage in one order or another. Hicklen’s team went 9-0 in league play, so that’s a solid tiebreaker.
Freshman of the Year: Katie Comerford, Attack, Villanova
I can’t get behind this one. Here’s how the Big East office justifies it:
Comerford, who was joined on the All-BIG EAST Second Team by fellow Wildcat Sam Scarfogliero, was a three-time BIG EAST Freshman of the Week this season. The rookie finished league play as the top-scoring freshman, with her 2.78 goals per game ranked third among all conference players, and her 3.89 points average ranked fifth. In her first season of collegiate lacrosse, Comerford totaled 40 points, 16 assists and 56 points overall, team highs in all categories.
Cool. Cincinnati’s Monica Borzillo averaged 4.29 points per game across the whole season (just 3.5 for Comerford) and was named Freshman of the Week five times. We’re ignoring that now? That points average is second best in the Big East, and Borzillo ranked fourth in assists per game. Yes, she is nowhere to be found in the top 10 rankings when you dial it down to just league games, but we’re just supposed to ignore what she did in the other nine games of the season? Come on.
Coaching Staff of the Year: Florida
The women’s coaches got this one right while the men’s coaches screwed it up. Florida just keeps winning league games, posting yet another undefeated season. If you go undefeated in a nine game league schedule, you clearly deserve to be Coaching Staff of the Year.
Let’s check in with the All-Big East First Team, shall we?
Julie Blaze, Vanderbilt, So., M
Taylor Bresnahan, Florida, Sr., D
Sammi Burgess, Florida, Sr., A
Caroline Fitzgerald, Florida, Sr., D*
Grace Gabriel, Marquette, So., M*
Morgan Glassford, Temple, Sr., M
Haley Hicklen, Florida, So., GK
Kendra Lanuza, Denver, So., A*
Brenda McDermott, Temple, Sr., A
Grace Nolan, Connecticut, Jr., A
Sydney Pirreca, Florida, So., M*
Lindsey Ronbeck, Florida, So., A
Morgan Ryan, Georgetown, So., A
Julianna Shearer, Marquette, Sr., A
Mollie Stevens, Florida, Sr., A*
Layne Voorhees, Denver, Sr., D*
Francesca Whitehurst, Georgetown, So., M*
Yep, that’s a 17 player First Team in a sport where only 12 players on the field for a team at one time. NEAT. Ok, look, I get where the men’s team gets bloated past the field count because of face-off guys and long-stick midfielder specialty votes. Women’s lacrosse doesn’t have that. Why are there five extra women on this team? Take the midfielders on this team for example. There are three midfielders on this First Team that were unanimous choices: Grace Gabriel, Sydney Pirreca, and Francesca Whitehurst. With four field players left back when the ball changes ends of the field, each team only has (essentially) three midfielders on the field at one time. All due respect to Vandy’s Julie Blaze and Temple’s Morgan Glassford, but they have no business being on this list given the unanimous votes. I get that there were ties in the voting. But there’s no way there should be this many ties.
Thanks to the swollen size of this squad, I got 10 of my 12 All-Big East Team picks correct, including the aforementioned Morgan Glassford. I thought she deserved to be on the team, but the coaches disagreed to the tune of all of them voting for three other women. I get to stand proudly on both sides of the aisle on this one!
I missed on Denver’s Elizabeth Behrins and Villanova’s Sam Scarfogliero. This was a year when picking a best midfielder was somewhat difficult and so my best middies list was different than the coaches, which is how I missed on Behrins. I thought Scarfogliero deserved a spot by leading the league in both caused turnovers and ground balls, but the league’s coaches disagreed there. This is the problem with picking defensive players sometimes. There’s only a limited number of stats on which to judge them, and the coaches have a much better understanding of who is a very good defender.
We’ll wrap up with the all-Big East Second Team list, which is somehow 16 players long. Feel free to go back and read my rant about the size of the First Team again.
Elizabeth Behrins, Denver, So., A
Monica Borzillo, Cincinnati, Fr., A
Katie Comerford, Villanova, Fr., A
Jill Doherty, Vanderbilt, Sr., A
Amanda Donovan, Cincinnati, So., M
Taylor Gebhardt, Georgetown, So., A
Brianna Harris, Florida, Fr, M
Jacqueline Jordan, Connecticut, Sr., A
Allison Lane, Marquette, Jr., M
Nicole Latgis, Temple, Jr., D
Allie Pavinelli, Florida, Jr., M
Shayna Pirreca, Florida, Jr., A
Sam Scarfogliero, Villanova, Sr., D
Jenny Schwalje, Georgetown, Sr., D
Hannah Seibel, Georgetown, Jr., M
Maddy Stevenson, Denver, Sr., GK