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Marquette Women’s Lacrosse Picked 5th; Leigh Steiner Named Preseason All-Big East

It would seem that the Big East coaches aren’t on the same page as some national poll voters.

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The Big East announced the preseason awards for the 2024 women’s lacrosse season back on Wednesday, and it would seem that the league’s coaches are not particularly high on Marquette one year after the Golden Eagles qualified for the NCAA tournament for the first time in program history.

The coaches — who are not allowed to vote for their own teams — picked Marquette to finish fifth this season. They ended up two points behind Georgetown but nine points in front of Butler, the team that ended up in sixth place. Denver is the unanimous pick to win the league, but head coach Liza Kelly had to vote for a different team, and it’s possible that casting her vote for the Hoyas is what nudged them in front of Marquette here.

While a fifth place projection would indicate that the league’s coaches don’t have the Golden Eagles ending up as one of the four teams to qualify for the conference tournament at the end of the regular season, it’s clear that there’s some debate amongst who the three non-Denver teams are going to be. Connecticut, Villanova, Georgetown, and Marquette are all within 10 points of each other in the polling, and that’s not much of a difference. Last year, Marquette went 3-0 against those three opponents, but they were only +9 in the three games in goal differential, winning by 2, 4, and 3 goals respectively.

Leigh Steiner is Marquette’s lone rep on the preseason all-Big East team. It’s not surprising that the Golden Eagles only have one woman on the 15 player roster. After all, when I made my picks, I didn’t have a single Marquette player in my list of 12. I tend to start with last year’s end of season awards and go from there, and I just didn’t have any Golden Eagles to include. With that said, Steiner is a slightly surprising option, even coming off Second Team honors last year. Obviously that means the coaches like her, but Meg Bireley finished last season at #7 in the Big East in points per game, and you’d like to think that these kind of things — especially with Bireley as the fourth Golden Eagle in the top 7 with all of the other three moving on after 2023 — would matter when it comes time to vote.

As for my picks? I went 11 for 12. My only downfall was the coaches only including three defenders and I went with four because, y’know, silly things like “that’s what the team on a field would look like.” The coaches did silly things like “put two goalies on the all-conference team” and “obviously identify a best draw control specialist.” Nonsense. Marquette doesn’t even list a specialist on their roster.

The individual awards went to exactly the women I picked as well. UConn’s Kate Shaffer is the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year as the leading returning point scorer even after being part of a three-way tie for Attacker of the Year at the end of last season, while Sam Thacker was somehow not a unanimous choice for Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. No, I don’t understand how the coaches went from all thinking that she was the best defender in May.... for the second straight season..... to someone thinking that someone else is the best now.

Anyway, let’s wrap up with the rundown of the official preseason all-Big East team. The asterisks mark the unanimous choices on the team, and yes, I’m slightly surprised that there are only six of them.

Leah Rubino, Butler, M
Rayea Davis, Connecticut, A
Madelyn George, Connecticut, M
Kate Shaffer, Connecticut, A*
Landyn White, Connecticut, GK*
Emelia Bohi, Denver, GK
Julia Gilbert, Denver, A
Abby Jenkins, Denver, DS
Bryn McCaughey, Denver, D
Trinity McPherson, Denver, D*
Sam Thacker, Denver, D*
Tatum Geist, Georgetown, M*
Kylie Hazen, Georgetown, A
Leigh Steiner, Marquette, M
Sydney Pappas, Villanova, A*