After getting the Big East men’s lacrosse preseason awards on Tuesday, the league office kept on giving this week. Thursday brought us the results of the preseason poll of the women’s lacrosse head coaches and the various preseason honors that come with it. YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles were picked to finish fourth in the seven team Big East this spring. Alongside that item, attacker Mary Schumar and midfielder Lydia Foust were named to the preseason all-Big East team.
Denver is the unanimous favorite to win the Big East this season, snapping up all six possible first place votes since coaches can not vote for their teams or their players in the balloting. The Pioneers went 5-0 last season and no one else in the league had fewer than two losses, so you can see how the coaches all said “yep, they’re still the best” and kept it moving. Georgetown snagged the first place vote from DU head coach Liza Kelly and that propelled them to a second place finish in the polling... .but I think we can safely say that the coaches aren’t 100% certain about who finishes second, third, and fourth. UConn picked up 26 points and Marquette grabbed 21, and that’s only an eight point gap between 2nd and 4th. Maybe that seems like a lot but also there aren’t that many possible points available. Heck, you could extend that to fifth place if you want because Villanova’s got 18 points and that’s not that far behind the Golden Eagles.
The final two spots are taken up by Butler and Division 1 newcomer Xavier. With six points, it seems clear that Xavier was voted in last place by all six coaches that could vote for the Musketeers. Butler ends up with 11 points which sounds like there was voting tomfoolery, but Butler could get five second-to-last votes and one last place vote from XU head coach Meg Decker, and that’s how you get 11.
I had it Marquette/Connecticut/Georgetown as my 2-3-4 in my preseason picks, but I’m also just a giant homer for head coach Meredith Black and her team, so of course I did. Those three teams all finished 3-2 in the league last season, so you could probably put them in any order and feel good about your choices.
Let’s talk about Mary Schumar and Lydia Foust! We turn things over to the Marquette press release on the awards for the details on what these ladies have been up to in blue and gold in the past. Let’s start with Foust, who is returning for a fifth season of eligibility:
Foust, a senior midfielder, makes her second-straight appearance on the preseason all-BIG EAST team after earning first team all-league honors each of the past two seasons and being voted a unanimous selection last year. The Redwood City, California, native totaled 58 points on 40 goals and 18 assists last season, while also posting the fifth-highest free position percentage (.368) in the league.
And now Schumar:
A senior attacker from Grand Rapids, Michigan, Schumar led the league in assists per game last season with 2.39, and is the conference’s top returning player in points per game after averaging 3.72 in 2022. She tied Marquette program records in both assists (43) and points (67) in a season.
I wanted to put Schumar second because she provides us with a nice transition to the Big East coaches voting Denver’s Lauren Black as Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. I can’t really argue with this, especially as Black is Denver’s best returning scorer from last season and the Pios are the obvious choice to win the Big East. A plus B equals C. Gotcha, I see what you’re doing here.
HOWEVER, and I hope you felt that however coming.....
Mary Schumar was my pick for preseason OPOY for the very simple reason of she had the best points per game average out of anyone returning to the Big East this spring. Also! Black isn’t second in points per game amongst returning players behind Schumar! UConn’s Lia LaPrise was just 0.05 points per game behind Schumar last season, and Lydia Foust averaged more points per game than Black as well!
I’m not going to say that there are Big East coaches out there who agree with my point of view specifically on this topic. However, I can point out that Black was not a unanimous choice for preseason OPOY, nor was she a unanimous choice for the preseason all-conference team. I can’t get behind the concept of leaving Black off the all-Big East list, but it is accentuating my point that maaaaaaybe she isn’t the right pick for OPOY.
As far as Preseason Defensive Player of the Year goes, that was apparently an easy choice. Denver’s Sam Thacker takes home that award because that’s what happens when you were the unanimous pick for the 2022 postseason version of the trophy and you’re returning in 2023. No need to overthink it…. But also the Big East press release does not say that Thacker was the unanimous choice. That’s weird.
Let’s get to the all-conference team here, and the ones with the * are unanimous picks.
Grace Coon, Connecticut, Gr., A
Ariana Kline, Connecticut, Sr., D
Lia LaPrise, Connecticut, Gr., A
Landyn White, Connecticut, Gr., GK
Lauren Black, Denver, So., A
Ellie Curry, Denver, Sr., M
Julia Gilbert, Denver, Sr., A
Sam Thacker, Denver, Sr., D*
Erin Bakes, Georgetown, Gr., M
Tatum Geist, Georgetown, Jr., M
Nicole Massimino, Georgetown, Gr., D
Lydia Foust, Marquette, Sr., M
Mary Schumar, Marquette, Sr., A
Caroline Curnal, Villanova, Gr., M
Addie Fischer, Villanova, Sr., M*
I am not entirely sure why the Big East went with a 15 woman team here when it’s a “12 women on the field at a time per team” sport, but here we are. I got 10 of my 12 correct, which feels like they were a pretty obvious 10, but my theory on that is ruined by just two women earning a unanimous vote to the team.... and one of the two is someone that I missed. Not by much, Addie Fischer was an all-Big East First Team performer last season, but with just 13 goals and three assists along with 14 ground balls and seven caused turnovers, I went with Ellie Curry, Lydia Foust, and Fischer’s teammate Caroline Curnal as my three midfielders. Had to draw a line somewhere when picking only three from last year’s all-conference First Team, and that’s where it ended up. Oh well, I guess.
The two players on my all-conference picks that didn’t end up on the official 15 woman team are Butler’s Campbell Connors and Marquette’s Ellie Henry. We’ll start with Henry, and point out that part of the problem on my miss there is that the Big East only put four defenders on the preseason all-conference team. Henry was my pick for the fourth spot and I got the other three, so that’s just how that goes.... but how do you have a 15 woman all-conference team apparently without ties that has fewer defenders on it than are on the field for a game?
As for Connors, keeping her off the team is garbage. At 2.80 goals per game last year, Connors is the best returning goal scorer by per game average in the league. She’s getting shunned off this team because she plays for Butler, and the Bulldogs don’t shape up to be a postseason contender. That’s crap. In fact, it makes Connors’ scoring prowess even more impressive because she obliterated the Butler program record for goals in a season last year as the obvious option that everyone had to try and stop. What are we even doing here? I get it, Denver and Connecticut and Georgetown have some talented attackers and midfielders that are going to get bigger roles this season by way of seniors departing... but let’s honor players that have proven what they can do no matter what logo is on their jersey.
Marquette’s season gets started on Sunday, February 12, when they host San Diego State. First draw against the Aztecs at Valley Fields is scheduled for 12pm Central time. That one will be Marquette’s opener, but SDSU will be coming off an opener of their own against Notre Dame on Friday. The Aztecs went 7-8 last season but did pick up an 18-12 win over Marquette in California last March.