Jan. 23, 2009
Notre Dame, Ind. – The Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team has been selected to finish third in the annual BIG EAST preseason poll in voting done by the league’s head coaches. Defending BIG EAST champion Syracuse was selected first while getting seven of eight first-place votes. Georgetown was selected to finish second, getting the remaining first-place vote followed by the Irish.
Overall, the Orange recorded 49 points with Georgetown, getting 42. Notre Dame was just four points behind the Hoyas with 38 points and was followed by Rutgers (29), Loyola (Md.) with 27, Louisville (17), Connecticut (15) and Cincinnati (7). Louisville and Cincinnati will be making their BIG EAST debuts this season.
The Irish are coming off a 2008 season that saw them finish second in the BIG EAST with a 4-1 mark while going 12-7 overall. Notre Dame played host to the 2008 BIG EAST Tournament at Notre Dame Stadium where they dropped a heartbreaking, 15-14, triple overtime game to Georgetown. The Irish advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in the program’s history where they dropped a 15-7 decision at Northwestern in the opening round. Notre Dame finished the year ranked 12th in the final IWLCA poll.
The BIG EAST also announced its preseason all-BIG EAST team that included three Notre Dame players, including a pair of unanimous selections. Sophomore midfielder Shaylyn Blaney (Stony Brook, N.Y.) and senior attack standout Jillian Byers (Northport, N.Y.) were unanimous selections to the squad. For Blaney it was her first preseason selection while Byers has been a unanimous preseason choice in each of the last two years. Joining them on the preseason team is midfielder Shannon Burke (Sr., Baltimore, Md.).
Blaney burst on the scene a year ago for the Irish as a freshman, finishing fourth on the team in scoring with 52 points on 43 goals and nine assists. Her 43 goals and 52 points were the second-best totals for a Notre Dame freshman, trailing just Byers marks of 54 and 78 that were set in her rookie year of 2006. Blaney was selected as a first team IWLCA all-West/Midwest Regional selection while also taking second team all-BIG EAST honors following the 2008 season. She was selected to the BIG EAST all-tournament team after scoring a career-high five goals in the semifinal loss to Georgetown. For the year, she had eight games with four or more points while grabbing 26 ground balls, 43 draw controls and 22 caused turnovers.
Senior Shannon Burke (left) was selected to the 2009 preseason all-BIG EAST team in voting done by the league’s coaches.
Burke joined Blaney as a second team all-BIG EAST selection in 2008 and was a second team IWLCA all-West/Midwest regional team selection after turning in her best season for the Irish, contributing at both ends of the field for the Irish. Offensively, she had career highs in goals (8), assists (3) and points (11) but made her mark defensively. She finished second on the team with 33 ground balls, was second in draw controls with 51 and led the team in caused turnovers with 32. A BIG EAST defensive player of the week, she finished fourth in the conference with 1.56 caused turnovers per game.
Byers had her third consecutive outstanding season for the Irish in 2008. She led the team in goals (67) and points (81) while setting a school record with 52 draw controls. Selected as a second team IWLCA All-American for the third consecutive year, Byers was also a unanimous first team all-BIG EAST selection for the third consecutive year last season. The Northport, N.Y., native ranked 14th in the nation in points and tied for seventh in goals. She is the only Notre Dame player to ever score 50 or more goals in a season three times and also have 66 or more points in a season in three consecutive years. Byers became Notre Dame’s all-time goal-scoring leader with 179 in just three seasons. Her 81-point season was the second most in one season at Notre Dame. A nominee for the prestigious Tewaaraton Trophy, she was the fourth player in the program’s history to be nominated. She will enter the 2009 season ranked first in goals (179), third in points (225) and seventh in assists (46) at Notre Dame.
Blaney, Burke and Byers, along with their Notre Dame teammates open the 2009 season on Saturday, Feb. 14 at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pa., at 1:00 p.m.
2009 BIG EAST Coaches Preseason Poll
2008 Records 2008 FinishSchool Points BIG EAST Overall Regular SeasonSyracuse (7) 49 5-0 18-3 1stGeorgetown (1) 42 3-2 12-7 3rdNotre Dame 38 4-1 12-7 2ndRutgers 29 2-3 7-10 4thLoyola (Md.) 27 1-4 6-10 5thLouisville 17 First year in leagueConnecticut 15 0-5 1-15 6thCincinnati 7 First year in league
2009 Preseason All-BIG EAST Team
Shaylyn Blaney, Notre Dame, So., M *Shannon Burke, Notre Dame, Sr., M/DJillian Byers, Notre Dame, Sr., A *Brooke Cantwell, Rutgers, Jr., MChristina Dove, Syracuse, Jr., MMolly Ford, Georgetown, Jr., AGrace Gavin, Loyola (Md.), So., MLiz Hogan, Syracuse, So., G *Ashby Kaestner, Georgetown, Jr., M *Halley Quillinan, Syracuse, Jr., A/M *Lindsay Rogers, Syracuse, Jr., D *Katie Rowan, Syracuse, Sr., A *Jordan Trautman, Georgetown, Sr., D *
* - unanimous selection
Preseason Offensive Player of the YearKatie Rowan, Syracuse, Sr., A
Preseason Defensive Player of the YearLindsay Rogers, Syracuse, Jr., D