How’s 2023 been treating you so far?
We’re about a month away from the start of the Division 1 women’s lacrosse season, so it feels like a pretty good time to make some predictions on what the Big East preseason poll is going to look like. We got last year’s preseason poll on February 3rd, so we should be pretty safe scheduling this for now and still beating the league office to the punch.
Just like we’re going to try to mimic how the coaches will vote, we’ll be mimicking the poll that the league will release. Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year, of course, followed by an all-Big East team. After that, we’ll wrap up by picking the order of finish in the Big East standings this season, and yes, that even includes Xavier, everyone’s favorite Division 1 newcomer.
Let’s get right to it!
Offensive Player of the Year: Mary Schumar, Marquette
Don’t overthink these things, that’s Rule #1 for the preseason awards. When you’ve got a Big East First Teamer returning with the best returning points per game average in the league, you hand her the trophy and keep it moving. That’s the case for Mary Schumar, who threw up 67 points last season in 18 games for a 3.72/game average. That beats out Connecticut’s Lia LaPrise at 3.67 per game, not to mention teammate Kate Shaffer who tied LaPrise in points per game in 15 appearances but didn’t make it to the all-league honors most likely due to those missing contests. We should also mention that Schumar led the league — not returning players, every player — in assists per game last season at 2.39.
Defensive Player of the Year: Sam Thacker, Denver
She won the Big East’s postseason version of this award in 2022 by unanimous vote from the league’s coaches and was (obviously) a unanimous choice for the league’s First Team, too. Thacker gets the nod here because if she was clearly the best defensive player last year and she returns for 2023, well, what has changed?
All-Big East Team
Lauren Black, Denver, A
Campbell Connors, Butler, A
Caroline Curnal, Villanova, M
Ellie Curry, Denver, M
Lydia Foust, Marquette, M
Ellie Henry, Marquette, D
Ariana Kline, Connecticut, D
Lia LaPrise, Connecticut, A
Nicole Massimino, Georgetown, D
Mary Schumar, Marquette, A
Sam Thacker, Denver, D
Landyn White, Connecticut, GK
There wasn’t much rummaging around to figure out who made it onto this list. Schumar and Thacker get their spots by way of their individual awards, and being All-Big East First Team honorees last season didn’t hurt. Black, Curry, Foust, and LaPrise were all unanimous choices for the First Team, so if they’re back, they’re still four of the best players in the league because everyone agrees that’s the case.
We need to get to four attackers, three midfielders, four defenders, and a goalkeeper to match the lineup on the field. Curnal is the fourth attacker listed in the First Team last season.... but Villanova lists her as a midfielder. If I move her to the position her coaches list her as, that allows us to bring in Connors to get us to four attackers and three midfielders. Connors was a Second Team honoree last season and is the best returning goal scorer in the Big East by way of per game average at 2.80. Gets us a little team diversity in the all-conference team, too.
Onwards to solving the defensive riddle, where Kline and Massamino drop in for two of the three remaining spots next to Thacker by way of their First Team honors last season. From there we turn to Georgetown’s Olivia Buckman and Marquette’s Ellie Henry for the final spot. Both women were all-Big East Second Team players last season..... and I choose to give the spot to Henry since she’s the only one who appears on any stat leaderboards that the Big East keeps. Henry was fifth in the league in draw controls last season at 4.89 per game, and if you can be an all-league defender and contribute to the offense by gaining possession off a goal like that, well, we have to recognize the effort, right? Also: Blatant Homerism is fun.
Predicted Order Of Finish
1 - Denver
2 - Marquette
3 - Connecticut
4 - Georgetown
5 - Villanova
6 - Butler
7 - Xavier
Yep, that’s Xavier, joining the league for their first year of Division 1 competition this season. Sorry, Musketeers, but you’re a mystery box team for the time being and we’re going to put you in last place to start things off.
Denver went 5-0 in the league last season while teams 2 through 4 in the standings all went 3-2. I’m sticking with the Pioneers to take the top spot in the league again. UConn is interesting to me because they have underrated talent in their scoring ranks, but also they have to figure out how to play without Sydney Watson. I’m cutting narrow margins here, but I like Marquette returning most of their offense intact a little bit more than UConn having the firepower to do it anyway, so I’ll give a slight homerriffic edge to the Golden Eagles here as long as they can figure out how to get stops this season.