We’re less than three weeks away from the spot in the calendar when the Big East announced last year’s preseason men’s lacrosse awards, so it seems like a good time to get some preseason picks out of the way. Can’t flaunt the accuracy of your picks if you never actually make any picks, after all. As always, these are done with the intention of predicting what the coaches will vote for, not my own personal picks.
We’ve got two individual honors to discuss, an all-Big East team that’s at least within shouting distance of the one that the league will put out, and a predicted order of finish amongst the five Big East schools that play men’s lacrosse and our associate friend. Everyone else in the league? Get on our level.
Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Ethan Walker, Attack, Denver
Let me start off by saying that I don’t actually agree with this choice. It should be Georgetown’s Daniel Bucaro. He led the Big East in goals per game last year eeeeeeeever so slightly over Walker, 2.83 to 2.82, and Bucaro was also second in assists per game, well ahead of Walker.
However, Walker was the Offensive Player of the Year at the end of the 2018 regular season, so there’s no reason to think that he won’t be the coaches’ pick for this award at this point.
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Dylan Gaines, Defense, Denver
He was the postseason DPOY last year as well as a unanimous choice for the preseason all-Big East team, and he’s back for his senior season. Boom, done.
Preseason All-Big East Team
Daniel Bucaro, A, Georgetown
Dylan Gaines, D, Denver
Nick Grill, D, Marquette
Colton Jackson, M, Denver
Dylan Johnson, D, Denver
Connor Kirst, M, Villanova
Josh Matte, GK, Denver
Alex Ready, GK, Denver
Noah Richard, LSM, Marquette
John Wagner, A, Marquette
Ethan Walker, A, Denver
Lucas Wittenberg, M, Georgetown
As always, the key here is to never overthink this list. What you see here is an assembly of the guys who made last year’s postseason all-Big East teams. The three attackers were all First Teamers as was the long stick midfielder, and two of the middies and defenders were as well. Nick Grill was a preseason all-Big East choice last year, so I’m going to give him the advantage over the other Second Teamers from the end of last season. Lucas Wittenberg picked up the spot here for two reasons: He’s older than Providence’s Evan McGreen and he averaged ever so slightly more assists per game as well.
I made a weird choice with goalie. For whatever reason, Bill Tierney insists on splitting time between his two netminders. Last year, Denver’s goalies combined for the best goals-against average in the Big East. It would seem to be unfair to both Josh Matte and Alex Ready to not acknowledge that and instead give the nod to Providence’s Tate Boyce who, in fairness, was a First Team performer last season. With that said, part of the reason for that was because of Matte and Ready splitting time.
I declined to add a face-off specialist to the all-Big East team. The three best guys in the league are all gone this year, and no one who was even mostly full time on the draw was over .500. Thus, I’ll take the L on that prediction and see what the coaches do about it.
Predicted Order Of Finish
1 - Denver
2 - Georgetown
3 - Villanova
4 - Marquette
5 - Providence
6 - St. John’s
I’m expecting a bounce back from last season’s rough and tumble results for Marquette that left the Golden Eagles with a 6-8 overall record. However, two of the primary reasons for the success that they did have last year was because of winning a ton of faceoffs and excellent goalie play... and now Zachary Melillo and Cole Blazer are out of the picture. Marquette returns a ton of guys all over the roster, but those are two pretty big pieces to their recent-ish success, and I don’t think I can quite put MU above Georgetown and Villanova until I see what it all turns into as games get going.
Yes, I just skipped past discussing the Pioneers at all because you’ve seen their name enough on this page, so it’s a foregone conclusion that Denver will be the favorite to win the league. Quite honestly, until they lose a regular season game to a Big East team, they have to be the favorites.
Providence and St. John’s are unfortunately stuck in a conference with four teams that have the NCAA tournament in mind every single year. Sorry, guys.