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Unscientific Predictions: 2018 Big East Men’s Lacrosse Preseason Awards

Yep, it’s almost time for everyone’s favorite spring sport!

University of Denver lacrosse player Ethan Walker... Photo By John Leyba/The Denver Post via Getty Images

We are currently a little over a month before Marquette men’s lacrosse kicks off the 2018 season against Jacksonville, and less than a month before the first two Big East games of the year. Shoutout to Providence and Villanova for taking chances on the road so early in February.

With that being the case, it’s time to make some preseason award picks. We’re going to give you Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year, along with an all-Big East team and a predicted order of finish for the six squads in the league. As always, these picks are made with the idea of trying to predict how the coaches will vote for the awards.

Ready? Here we go!

Offensive Player of the Year: Christian Cuccinello, Villanova

The award is for BEST OFFENSIVE PLAYER not BEST GOAL SCORER, and thus, it goes to Cuccinello. Thanks to leading the conference in assists last season as the only player contributing two or more per contest, Cuccinello is your leading points man amongst returning players. Now, there’s a chance that this could go to Georgetown’s Daniel Bucaro, who is the best returning goal scorer, and I suppose the coaches could just default and give it to Ethan Walker just because he wears the crimson and gold of Denver.

Defensive Player of the Year: Nick Grill, Marquette

I’m fully prepared to be 100% wrong about this. However, in last year’s end-of-season awards, the Big East recognized the efforts of a whole bunch of seniors on the defensive end of the field, and also then-freshman Nick Grill. Even when looking at the weekly awards, I still only got one other name out of that grouping for a non-senior defender. One of two things is going to happen here. Either the league’s coaches vote for Grill, who was Second Team All-Big East a year ago and the only returning player from the two all-Big East teams OR they give it to someone who didn’t even deserve recognition at all last season. I suppose going in a different direction and giving it to Sean Mayle, the long stick midfielder from Denver is also possible, as is giving it to Providence’s Tate Boyce, because there’s not a preseason Goalkeeper of the Year award. Want a random wildcard? Denver’s Dylan Gaines. He’s the sole returner out of the Pios’ starting trio last season, and the league’s coaches have been a big fan of Christian Burgdorf for years. It wouldn’t be shocking to see them switch that focus to the guy holding it together for Denver now.

All-Big East Team

Trevor Baptiste, FO, Denver
Craig Berge, M, Georgetown
Tate Boyce, GK, Providence
Daniel Bucaro, A, Georgetown
Christian Cuccinello, A, Villanova
Dylan Gaines, D, Denver
Nick Grill, D, Marquette
Colton Jackson, M, Denver
Zachary Kryza, D, Villanova
Sean Mayle, LSM, Denver
Devin McNamara, M, Villanova
Tanner Thomson, M, Marquette
Ethan Walker, A, Denver

This was a struggle to assemble. Most of it, as you can guess, stems from the lack of viable candidates for Defensive Player of the Year. Kryza is the only non-senior defender that earned a weekly award from the league last season that’s not named Nick Grill, so sure, let’s toss him in there. As mentioned, Gaines is a total guess, but this list needed more Pioneers on it anyway.

The midfielders was also a total mess, as Jackson was the only returning First Teamer. I can make an argument for Thomson (got an honor roll nod) and for McNamara (ranked 8th in assists) last year, and both guys were Second Team honorees last season. Berge is a educated guess as he was 1) a Second Teamer and 2) Peter Conley does not return for the Hoyas. Odds are that Berge assumes some of his responsibilities. Thanks to Denver being Denver, you could see Connor Donahue sneak in there instead, but I don’t have any stats to support that.

Goalie was easy, as Boyce was the netminder on the First Team last year and the 2017 Goalkeeper of the Year as a unanimous choice. Attack was also easy, as all three of those guys were First Team honorees last season. Mayle was a lock for the squad at long stick midfielder thanks to sharing the First Team spot with the now graduated Michael Mayer from Georgetown. As for the face-off specialist, I’m so sure that Trevor Baptiste will be on the list that I might even put him on the preseason list next season even though he’s a senior in 2018.

Predicted Order Of Finish

1 - Denver
2 - Villanova
3 - Marquette
4 - Georgetown
5 - Providence
6 - St. John’s

I will pick someone other than the Pioneers to win this league when someone proves that they can beat them. I don’t mean “when someone other than Denver wins the Big East,” I mean “earns a regular season victory over Denver.” Bill Tierney’s squad is a perfect 21-0 in regular season conference games since joining the conference. It’s borderline insane that Marquette has defeated them in back-to-back conference tournaments, if we’re being honest about it.

There’s way too many Wildcats on my preseason all-league team to put Villanova anywhere but second. I’m feeling pretty good about Marquette this season even though the Golden Eagles have a lot of questions to answer on offense this season. Providence and Georgetown may be a tossup, but somehow I think that the Friars won’t be boosted by Boyce’s play in net as they would like. That leaves the Red Storm, and sorry guys, but someone has to be sixth.