Well, we’re rapidly approaching the end of January, which means we’re rapidly approaching the start of February, which means the start of lacrosse season is right around the corner. YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles start the season off against Notre Dame on February 6th, but we can expect preseason awards and honors from the Big East home office long before that. As such, it’s time to make some picks!
Before we get into it, we do have to address a little bit of housekeeping. Last year, the Big East was a 10 team league. Three of those teams — Cincinnati, Connecticut, and Temple — are full-time members of the American Athletic Conference. One of their fellow league members — East Carolina — started playing women’s lacrosse last year, giving the AAC four teams. Add in now-former Big East squads and full-time SEC teams Florida and Vanderbilt, and you have a very nice little six team league over there. That left the Big East with five teams, though: Butler, Georgetown, Marquette, Villanova, and associate member Denver. Thus, Old Dominion moves into the Big East as an associate member this year after being an associate member of the Atlantic Sun conference previously.
As a result of the departure of half of the league from last year, it was a liiiiiiiiiiitle bit difficult to cobble together a 12 woman team here. A lot of that has to do with the fact that Florida was so dominant that you could pretty much just count on at least four Gators turning up on the all-league team. In any case, to a certain extent, some of this is just wildly guessing, so we’ll see how it compares to what the league’s coaches vote for when the official awards are released.
Alrighty, here we go.
Offensive Player of the Year: Katie Comerford, Attacker, Villanova
The title of the award is “Offensive Player of the Year,” not “Best Goal Scorer.” Thus, I’m going with Comerford, who had the best points per game average in the Big East last season amongst players that are returning in 2019. Comerford’s 4.06 per game was largely driven by ranking second in the league in assists per game at 2.06. If the coaches decide that scoring goals is the biggest thing to vote for here, then this is probably going to Marquette’s Grace Gabriel. Her 3.11 goals per game last year is tops amongst returning players. Given that Comerford wasn’t even on the all-Big East First Team last season, there’s a very real chance that the coaches will go for Gabriel.
Defensive Player of the Year: Kennedy Milburn, Defender, Denver
Milburn is the only returning defender from last year’s All-Big East First Team. TA-DA! Never overthink these things. Milburn had a team high 42 ground balls for the Pios last season, along with 16 draw controls and 21 caused turnovers.
All Big East Team
Kerri Caruso, Defender, Old Dominion
Katie Comerford, Attacker, Villanova
Julia Feiss, Attacker, Denver
Katherine Fischer, Defender, Denver
Grace Gabriel, Midfielder, Marquette
Taylor Gebhardt, Attacker, Georgetown
Carson Gregg, Goalkeeper, Denver
Devin Hassinger, Midfielder, Villanova
Quintin Hoch-Bullen, Attacker, Denver
Natalia Lynch, Midfielder, Georgetown
Kennedy Milburn, Defender, Denver
Mollie Miller, Defender, Georgetown
Obviously, Comerford and Milburn were shoo-ins, as was Gabriel, given her status as the best returning goal scorer in the league and last year’s co-Midfielder of the Year. Feiss and Gebhardt were all-Big East First Teamers last season, so they were also easy picks. Hoch-Bullen, Lynch, and Miller were all Second Teamers, so that’s how they made their way on this list. Apologies to Georgetown’s Michaela Bruno and Marquette’s Cate Soccodato, as I adhered to a 12 woman limit, and while they were Second Teamers last year, there just wasn’t enough space for them amongst the attackers here.
So that gets me to eight: Full up with four attackers, two midfielders, and two defenders. I needed a middie, two defenders, and a goalkeeper. Kerri Caruso might not have been the most outstanding Old Dominion player last year, as she was Second Team All-ASun while Glory Johnson was First Team All-ASun. Unfortunately, Johnson is an attacker and I need a defender, so here we are. Caruso had 34 ground balls and 38 caused turnovers last year, so she seems like a solid pick. Fischer was my final defensive pick, and quite obviously one of the bigger guesses on the board. She had the most caused turnovers out of any still available defender in the league that’s back in 2019, so there you go.
The midfielder spot went to Devin Hassinger, because I elected to boot Denver’s Maddie Baum out. Baum was Second Team All-Big East last year, but she is a draw specialist for the Pios, contributing very little else to the stat sheet other than that. Hassinger had 11 goals and nine assists while still averaging more than five draw controls per game, just as Baum did. I’m probably going to be wrong on this, but so be it.
That leaves us with the keeper spot, and I went with Denver’s Carson Gregg. Georgetown’s Haelle Chomo was Second Team All-Big East last year, but Gregg had better stats. Chomo caught a break by backstopping a team that only lost to Florida in Big East play last year, which seems a liiiiiiitle bit unfair to Gregg.
Predicted Order Of Finish
1 - Denver
2 - Georgetown
3 - Marquette
4 - Villanova
5 - Old Dominion
6 - Butler
There are five Pioneers on my all-Big East team, so Denver goes into first place here. Yes, yes, I know that if I had put Chomo onto the all-league team, Denver and Georgetown would be even with four players each. Anyway, that’s why the Hoyas are #2, and Marquette and Villanova slot into the spots that they occupied in last year’s end of the season standings. Old Dominion gets the nod over Butler because the Bulldogs are still finding their footing as a Division 1 program.
For a moment, I would like to discuss Butler’s results from last season, where they went 1-16. While putting together my research for my all-Big East picks, I ended up on the official standings and schedules page on BigEast.com. By alphabetical order, Butler’s first in the schedules part, and I couldn’t help but notice that there was a whole bunch of 10+ goal losses for the Bulldogs last season. They only scored 10 goals in a game three times: In a 21-12 loss at Radford, in a 16-7 win over Howard....... and in a 20-13 loss at Georgetown. Butler’s goal totals in their other eight Big East games: 5, 8, 1, 3, 5, 4, 8, and 3. And they hung 13 on Georgetown somehow. That’s weird, isn’t it?