On Wednesday, the Big East announced the 2019 preseason awards for men’s lacrosse and there’s more than a little bit of attention paid to the Marquette Golden Eagles along the way. Marquette is picked to finish second in the league this year by vote of the coaches in the conference.
That is the best spot in the preseason poll for the Golden Eagles. In four of the five seasons of Marquette’s participation in the Big East, the Golden Eagles have outperformed their preseason prognostication. Until Denver actually loses a conference game, let’s all just presume that this year will not be a year where MU manages to do better than their preseason pick.
Here’s the official rundown of how the voting went:
As I referenced a moment ago, Denver has never lost a regular season conference game. They are the deserved unanimous preseason pick to win the Big East up until such point where someone figures out how to beat them before May. As you can see from the rundown, Georgetown picked up the vote from DU head coach Bill Tierney as coaches are not allowed to vote for their own teams. Marquette still managed to outperform the Hoyas in the poll by a singular point to finish second, while Villanova slotted in two points back of GU. Quite honestly, if you turned in a ballot with Denver in first and any combination of Marquette/Georgetown/Villanova, it was a good ballot, so it’s pretty impressive that Marquette slipped into second place. The Golden Eagles went 6-8 in 2018 with five game winning goals in overtime or the final 10 seconds of regulation as they dealt with a near constant barrage of various injuries up and down the lineup. Even with that massive problem, MU still went 3-2 in Big East action to finish tied for second behind Denver.
The Golden Eagles put three players on the preseason All-Big East Team: senior attacker John Wagner, senior long stick midfielder Noah Richard, and junior defender Nick Grill. Both Wagner and Richard were unanimous choices for the preseason squad. Here’s the official Marquette rundown on these three guys:
Both Wagner and Richard are unanimous selections as an attackman and long-stick midfielder, respectively, after each earned All-BIG EAST First Team honors at the conclusion of last season. Wagner posted the fourth 30-goal season in program history last year and led the BIG EAST with 15 goals in conference action. The St. Davids, Ontario native posted game winners in all three of MU’s league victories and posted a total of five winners, all of which came in overtime or the final 10 seconds of regulation.
Richard is the lone LSM on the list after tying for the Marquette lead with 48 ground balls in 2018 and finishing second to Brendon Connolly (17) with 11 caused turnovers. The West Chester, Pennsylvania native also added a goal and two assists while playing in 11 of 14 games.
Grill earns mention for the second time after back-to-back All-BIG EAST Second Team honors as Marquette’s primary shutdown option on close defense. The junior native of Bridgewater, New Jersey posted 23 ground balls and caused five turnovers while starting 13 games in 2018. He has started all 29 contests in which he has appeared during his first two seasons in Milwaukee.
If you read my picks for the all-Big East awards, all three gentlemen are clearly deserving of this attention from the league.
Onwards to the individual awards in the Big East and the rest of the all-league team.
Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Ethan Walker, Denver, Jr., A
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Dylan Gaines, Denver, Sr., D
Both of those guys were my picks to win these awards and they were both unanimous choices by the coaches, so I don’t know how much time we need to spend talking about it here. Spin your way over to the official Big East release if you need more explanation.
Here’s the All-Big East Team:
Tate Boyce, Providence, Sr., G ^
Ethan Walker, Denver, Jr., A ^
Daniel Bucaro, Georgetown, Sr., A ^
John Wagner, Marquette, Sr., A ^
Colton Jackson, Denver, Sr., M ^
Lucas Wittenberg, Georgetown, Sr., M
Connor Kirst, Villanova, Jr., M
Dylan Gaines, Denver, Sr., D ^
Dylan Johnson, Denver, Sr., D
Gibson Smith, Georgetown, So., D
Nick Grill, Marquette, Jr., D
Noah Richard, Marquette, Sr., LSM ^
T.J. Comizio, Villanova, Sr., SSDM
Alex George, Providence, Sr. FOS
Seven players — the one marked with the carrots — were unanimous choices for the squad, which on some level makes me wonder what the hell the coaches are looking at. All nine of my attackers, midfielders, and defenders are all on the voted upon team, and a tie in the voting launched an extra defender onto the team.
I didn’t put a short stick defensive mid on my team because lord knows how you’re supposed to be able to pick that out of essentially thin air, and I abdicated my duties to pick a face-off specialist because no one coming back in 2019 was good enough to really deserve a pick. Thus, shouts to Comizio and George for finding their way onto this list.
If you go by last year’s postseason all-league team voting, Tate Boyce is absolutely the right pick for the goalkeeper spot here. However, Alex Ready and Josh Matte, Denver’s pair of netminders, combine to be better than Boyce, but because they just split the time right down the middle, the Pioneers don’t get enough credit for their excellent goalie play. It is what it is, I guess.
Marquette will play a closed scrimmage at Utah this coming weekend as the Utes prepare for their first ever Division 1 season before hosting Johns Hopkins next weekend to wrap up the exhibition schedule. The 2019 regular season officially kicks off on February 9th when the Golden Eagles host Bellarmine, with first draw set for 11am at Valley Fields.