Byrnes is the BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year
May 3, 2016
NEW YORK – Marquette University graduate student Liam Byrnes was named the BIG EAST Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year on Tuesday afternoon and was joined by six other Golden Eagles on the league’s all-conference teams.
Byrnes and junior attackman Ryan McNamara were selected to the All-BIG EAST First Team, while five players earned second team honors. Byrnes is also the first Marquette player to ever receive a major year-end award in the program’s three-year affiliation with the conference.
Senior attackman Conor Gately was named to the All-BIG EAST Second Team for the second year in a row and graduate defenseman B.J. Grill earned second team honors to mark the third all-conference accolade of his career. Three individuals – senior Jacob Richard and sophomores Cole Blazer and Zachary Melillo – all were honored for the first time.
Byrnes, who was the BIG EAST Preseason Co-Defensive Player of the Year, led the league and ended the regular season third in NCAA Division I with 2.23 caused turnovers per game. The West Islip, New York native is Marquette’s all-time career leader with 204 ground balls and 98 caused turnovers and has played in all 58 games in program history. The Inside Lacrosse Midseason Second Team All-American was a unanimous All-BIG EAST First Team selection in 2015 and earned second team honors as a redshirt sophomore in 2014.
McNamara was a unanimous All-BIG EAST First Team choice after earning a team-high seven weekly conference honors as a junior. The Eagan, Minnesota native leads the Golden Eagles with 34 goals and 47 points this season and became the second Marquette player to ever reach 100 career points against Denver on Saturday afternoon.
Gately recorded 16 goals and 11 assists as a senior and his 133 career points lead the MU all-time charts. The Yorktown Heights, New York native was also a second team choice in 2015 and was a unanimous member of the All-BIG EAST Preseason Team this year.
Gately was joined on the second team by four members of Marquette’s BIG EAST-best defensive unit. Grill was a first team selection in each of the last two seasons and helped lead the MU defense with classmate Byrnes. The graduate student is second all-time at MU with 51 caused turnovers and registered 28 ground balls this season.
Richard, a senior short-stick defensive midfielder, sits second among all Golden Eagles with 52 ground balls this season and is second to Byrnes all-time at MU with 182 in his career.
Melillo, in his first year as a transfer student from NJIT, won 58.1 percent (143-of-246) of the faceoffs he took in his first year at Marquette and picked up 57 ground balls.
Blazer has been MU’s starting goalie for the majority of BIG EAST play after being inserted in net for his first career start against No. 5 Villanova on April 2. The Libertyville, Illinois native responded with 13 saves and only allowed three goals on his way to national defensive player of the week honors.
Marquette has earned the No. 2 seed in the BIG EAST Conference Men’s Lacrosse Championship and will face third-seeded Villanova on Thursday, May 5 at 5:30 p.m. Central time in the semifinals on CBS Sports Network.
2016 Men’s Lacrosse All-BIG EAST Team and Awards
Offensive Player of the Year
Defensive Players of the Year
Co-Midfielders of the Year
Goalkeeper of the Year
Freshman of the Year
Coaching Staff of the Year
All-BIG EAST First Team *
All-BIG EAST Second Team **
* - due to a tie in voting, there are two first team goalkeepers and two longstick midfielders making up a 15-member all-conference team. There will be no LSM represented on the All-BIG EAST second team
^ - denotes unanimous selection
** - there are 15 members on the All-BIG EAST Second Team due to a tie in the at-large voting process
Keep up with the Marquette men’s lacrosse program all season long through social media by following on Twitter (@MarquetteMLax) and Instagram (@MarquetteMLax) and ‘liking’ on Facebook (/MarquetteLacrosse).
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