Denver Repeats For The Fourth Time As BIG EAST Men’s Lacrosse Preseason Favorite
Three-time regular season champion Denver was picked to win the BIG EAST a fourth time.
Jan. 25, 2017
NEW YORK (BIG EAST) – Three-time regular season champion Denver was picked first in the BIG EAST Men's Lacrosse's preseason poll a fourth time in 2017 as the unanimous favorite among the league’s head coaches. The Pioneers’ No. 1 pick was supported by the preseason selections of both the Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year. Senior attacker Connor Cannizzaro, the reigning BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year, was a unanimous selection to repeat the honor in the preseason vote for the second year in a row. Teammate and classmate Christian Burgdorf was voted as the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year for the third year in a row.
Villanova was selected second in the poll with 21 points and received the remaining first-place vote, while Marquette, the 2016 BIG EAST tournament champions were picked third with 16 pts. Rounding out the league’s preseason standings were Georgetown in fourth (14 points), Providence (nine points) and St. John’s (five points).
Denver has been undefeated in conference play for the past three years with a 16-0 BIG EAST slate. The Pioneers were selected as the national preseason No. 1 team in the Inside Lacrosse Face-Off Yearbook Preseason Poll and No. 3 in the USILA/Nike preseason poll.
Along with the preseason coaches’ poll and awards, the BIG EAST also released the coaches’ picks for the preseason All-BIG EAST team. Of the 14 players, eight were unanimous in a positional roster that included three attackers, four midfielders, three defenders, two long-stick midfielders and a face-off specialist. The all-conference team voting includes an at-large selection. This year’s all-league team had a tie at LSM. Eleven of the 14 preseason honorees were on the 2016 All-BIG EAST First Team, 13 earned all-league honors last year.
The Preseason All-BIG EAST team and Preseason Coaches’ Poll were voted on by the league’s six head coaches who could not cast votes on their ballot for their own teams or players.
Preseason Offensive Player of the Year Cannizzaro was a 2016 Tewaaraton Award Finalist, a two-time USILA All-America First Team and a two-time All-BIG EAST First Team selection. In 2016, he tallied a team-high 69 points on 46 goals and 23 assists. In 16 games, Cannizzaro netted nine hat tricks, including a sock trick in Denver’s 12-11 win in the snow at Villanova last April. In BIG EAST play, Cannizzaro had 19 goals and eight assists for 27 points. Heading into his final year with the program, Cannizzaro is already fifth in career points (159), fifth in career goals (103) and ninth in career assists (56) through just two seasons with the Pioneers.
Burgdorf, Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, enters his senior campaign as a three-time All-American, three-time All-BIG EAST First Team honoree and 2015 BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year. Burgdorf was the league’s preseason Defensive Player of the Year winner for a third-straight year. The 2016 USILA First Team selection picked up 39 ground balls and caused 12 turnovers in Denver’s 16 games a year ago, often drawing the opposition’s top attackman in 2016. In league play, Burgdorf caused four turnovers with 15 ground balls.
Both Burgdorf and Cannizzaro were among the eight unanimous selections to the preseason All-BIG EAST Team.
Along with the Denver duo, the Pioneers' boasted three additional players on the preseason All-BIG EAST Team with two unanimous selections, midfielder Tyler Pace and face-off specialist Trevor Baptiste, as well as long-stick middie Sean Mayle. All three Pioneers were 2016 All-BIG EAST First Team honorees. Pace, a senior, had 13 points in BIG EAST play off five goals and eight assists. He was a second team all-American and was on the Tewaaraton Award Watch List. Baptiste, a junior, went 89-for-124 (.718) at the face-off X against conference opponents en route to his second-straight BIG EAST Midfielder of the Year honor. The two-time first team all-American also added a goal and an assist with 60 ground balls in league play. Classmate Mayle picked up 13 ground balls and an assist in BIG EAST action with 48 ground balls over the season. Denver was runner-up to Marquette in the BIG EAST Championship in 2016, they finished 13-3 and earned an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament.
Picked second in the league and receiving votes in the USILA preseason poll, the Wildcats were the No. 3 seed in the BIG EAST Championship in 2016 and finished with a 3-2 league record, 9-5 overall. For 2017, Villanova made up three of the four preseason All-BIG EAST midfielders with the Froccaro brothers, Jake and Joey, unanimous selections. Senior Jake Froccaro accounted for eight goals and 10 assists in BIG EAST play in 2015 and was a USILA All-America honorable mention as well as an All-BIG EAST First Team honoree. Sophomore Joey Froccaro scored seven goals with five assists against conference opponents and won 20 of 38 faceoffs. The rookie midfielder was on the All-BIG EAST Second Team in 2016. Grad student Jack Curran, the reigning Co-Midfielder of the Year also makes the preseason all-conference team. Curran scored eight goals with 11 assists and 10 ground balls in conference play. He was a USILA All-America honorable mention as well as 2016 BIG EAST First Team honoree.
Marquette finished with a 11-5 overall record and 4-1 league slate in 2016. The Golden Eagles had a tremendous come-from-behind victory at Denver to win the 2016 BIG EAST Men’s Lacrosse Championship title and earn the program’s first NCAA tournament berth in just four years of existence, three in the league. Marquette returns 20 letterwinners and seven starters from 2016 while adding 22 newcomers. Representing Marquette on the 2017 preseason all-conference team was senior attacker Ryan McNamara. McNamara was a unanimous selection after earning All-BIG EAST First Team honors in 2016 and USILA All-America honorable mention. McNamara scored 16 goals with nine assists in league play. He also boasted three game-winners. Overall, McNamara accounted for 57 points in 2016. Marquette graduated key players Liam Byrnes (defense), B.J. Grill (defense), Jacob Richard (SSDM) and Conor Gately (attack) who were part of the original Marquette squad.
Picked fourth, just two points behind the Golden Eagles was Georgetown. The Hoyas finished in a four-way tie with Providence and St. John’s for fourth in the league in 2016 with a 1-4 record. Georgetown boasts three players on the 2017 preseason all-conference team with sophomore Daniel Bucaro the 2016 BIG EAST Freshman of the Year, Michael Mayer and Charlie Ford. Bucaro was voted to the All-BIG EAST Second Team last year and scored five goals with three assists in five games in his rookie season at attack. Mayer, a senior defender, collected six ground balls against league opponents. All-BIG EAST First Team LSM Charlie Ford collected 12 ground balls with three caused turnovers in his junior campaign in 2016. The Hoyas also return attacker Peter Conley who was injured during the 2016 non-conference slate and junior goalie Nick Marrocco.
Providence, the host of the 2017 BIG EAST Men’s Lacrosse Championship presented by Jeep, had an overall record of 7-9 in 2016. The Friars will again be led by preseason all-league defender Jarrod Neumann, a two-time All-BIG EAST First Team selection. Neumann collected 12 ground balls in conference play last year. Also joining Neumann on the preseason All-BIG EAST team was goalkeeper Tate Boyce. Boyce was a freshman in 2016 and was also voted to the All-BIG EAST first team. Boyce had a 11.12 goals against average with 48 saves and a .466 save percentage against BIG EAST foes during his rookie campaign.
St. John’s graduated two scoring threats in First Team All-BIG EAST attacker Eric DeJohn and Second Team All-BIG EAST midfielder James Bonanno; however attackman Jason DeBenedictis returns for his junior campaign to lead the Red Storm. DeBenedictis was a second-team All-BIG EAST honoree in 2016 and accounted for 13 goals and three assists in league play.
BIG EAST men's lacrosse action officially starts Feb. 4 when Providence hosts Boston University. The first big Saturday of will be Feb. 11 where Villanova, St. John’s, Providence and Denver are all in action. Georgetown opens the season midweek on Valentine’s Day against High Point, while Marquette starts its season on Feb. 18. League play gets underway April 1. The 2017 BIG EAST Championship presented by Jeep will be hosted by Providence, May 4 and May 6.
Follow all the action for BIG EAST men’s lacrosse this season with the hashtag #BIGEASTmlax.
2017 Preseason Men’s Lacrosse All-BIG EAST Team and Awards
Preseason Offensive Player of the Year
Connor Cannizzaro, Denver, Sr., A ^ #
Preseason Defensive Players of the Year
Christian Burgdorf, Denver, Sr., D ##
Preseason All-BIG EAST *
Tate Boyce, Providence, So., GK
Daniel Bucaro, Georgetown, So., A
Connor Cannizzaro, Denver, Sr., A ^
Ryan McNamara, Marquette, Sr., A ^
Jack Curran, Villanova, Grad., M
Jake Froccaro, Villanova, Sr., M ^
Joey Froccaro, Villanova, So., M ^
Tyler Pace, Denver, Sr., M ^
Christian Burgdorf, Denver, Sr., D ^
Michael Mayer, Georgetown, Sr., D
Jarrod Neumann, Providence, Sr., D ^
Charlie Ford, Georgetown, Sr., LSM
Sean Mayle, Denver, Jr., LSM
Trevor Baptiste, Denver, Jr., FOGO ^
Preseason Coaches’ Poll
First place votes in ( )
^ - denotes unanimous selection
# - preseason Player of the Year pick for 2016
## - preseason Player of the Year pick for 2015 & 2016
* - due to a tie in voting, there are two long-stick midfielders on the preseason all-conference team
Denver will be in action Saturday for an exhibition at No. 8 Johns Hopkins before opening its 2017 campaign on February 11, as No. 19 Air Force makes the short trip up I-25 for a 1 p.m. MT faceoff. 2017 Denver Lacrosse, Presented by Your Hometown Toyota Stores, will once again be broadcast on 104.3 The Fan/ESPN Denver 1600 AM, with voice of the Pioneers’ Tyler Maun on the call all season long.
Season tickets remain on sale for $110 for the 2017 campaign, the only way to guarantee you catch all nine home games at Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium this Spring. Single game tickets for the 2017 campaign are also on sale, and can be purchased here.
Fans interested in making a donation to the men’s lacrosse program can do so by clicking here. Your contribution will make a direct impact on the success of YOUR Pioneers. Thank you in advance for your unwavering support of our student-athletes and their quest for excellence.
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