We’re zooming along towards the start of the 2024 women’s college lacrosse season, so we should probably do something about previewing that, huh? Let’s make sure we get some preseason award prediction/projections in for the Big East, since that’s the conference that YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles play in, shall we?
We’ll give you a preseason offensive and defensive player of the year along with a preseason goalkeeper of the year here. After that, an all-Big East team, and we’ll wrap up with a shot at a predicted order of finish in the conference this season.
Here we go!
Preseason Attacker of the Year: Kate Shaffer, Connecticut
There was a three-way tie for Attacker of the Year at the end of the regular season last spring, and all three women — none of whom led the Big East in goals or points by the time the season came to a halt after the postseason, by the way — return for 2024. Villanova’s Sydney Pappas is the leading returning goal scorer at 3.06 goals per game last season, while Kate Shaffer is the leading returning point scorer at 4.39 points per game last season. Denver’s Julia Gilbert made her way into the vote because she was the best scorer on a team that went 6-0 in league play and didn’t lose a game at all until the NCAA tournament semifinals, but she finished the year #7 in goals per game in the Big East and nowhere in the top 10 for points per game.
So I’m giving it to Shaffer because I believe in the value of assists because this is ATTACKER of the Year, not GOAL SCORER of the year. Shaffer averaging 1.39 assists per game has to matter here.
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Sam Thacker, Denver
She was the unanimous choice for Defensive Player of the Year at end of last season and that was her second straight DPOY trophy. Denver has won four straight DPOY trophies at this point, and to think that literally any other human being is capable of getting this nod from the coaches when they turn in their ballots is beyond comprehension.
Preseason Goalkeeper of the Year: Landyn White, Connecticut
Just like Thacker, White is a two-time Goalkeeper of the Year of the postseason variety of the award. She’s back for 2024, so we’re not going to put a lot of thought into this.
All-Big East Team
Kate Shaffer, Connecticut, A
Julia Gilbert, Denver, A
Kylie Hazen, Georgetown, A
Sydney Pappas, Villanova, A
Leah Rubino, Butler, M
Madelyn George, Connecticut, M
Tatum Geist, Georgetown, M
Trinity McPherson, Denver, D
Sam Thacker, Denver, D
Mary Kate Conniff, Villanova, D
Bryn McCaughey, Denver, D
Landyn White, Connecticut, GK
This was incredibly easy to accomplish this year, but I will tip my cap to the Big East for making it easy. I intentionally limit myself to a 12 woman team mimicking the team that’s on the field for a game: Four attackers, three midfielders, four defenders, and a goalie. The Big East honored 17 women with a spot on the First Team.
And so: I got to the four attackers by way of the trio that tied for Attacker of the Year last season as well as First Teamer Kylie Hazen. Midfield? All three women listed above were First Team honorees, including a unanimous pick for George. Goalkeeper? Yeah, putting White on here was a no-brainer since she’s the two-time postseason GKOY.
Defense was the only spot where I had to pretend to use my brain. Thacker is an obvious choice here because of her solo award, and she was joined on the First Team at the end of last season by McPherson, her teammate. But they were the only two First Team defenders returning in 2024, so I needed two more. As luck would have it, Conniff and McCaughey were the only two Second Team defenders returning as well, and ta-da: That’s four. Is it weird that three of the four are Pioneers? Maybe, but I’m just making picks based on how the league’s coaches voted for the best players last season. What, I’m not supposed to trust professional lacrosse brains here?
Projected Order of Finish
Denver hasn’t lost a regular season conference game since 2018, and they haven’t lost to anyone in the Big East at all since the 2019 Big East tournament title game. They get to be picked to win the league until they lose a game to one of the other six teams, and even then, it’s up for debate.
I can’t look at Marquette’s roster and see how much of their offense they lost and keep them in second place after they beat everyone else in the league except for Denver last season. I shall merely flip them with UConn in the pecking order instead, and there’s more Hoyas than Wildcats in my preseason all-BE team, so Georgetown gets to be in fourth here. Butler and Xavier bring up the rear because the Bulldogs lost to everyone except for the first year Musketeers last season.