Liam Byrnes was named the BIG EAST Conference Defensive Player of the Year today, solidifying his selection as the conference’s Preseason Co-Defensive Player of the Year selection at the start of the season. He’s the first Marquette player to receive a major post-season award in program history.
Byrnes led the BIG EAST Conference in forced turnovers per game (2.23) and finished third on the team in loose balls, the most among Marquette defensemen. He is the program’s all-time leader in both categories.
Byrnes and Ryan McNamara were both nominated to the All-BIG EAST First Team, while Conor Gately, B.J. Grill, Zack Melillo, Jake Richard and Cole Blazer were all named to the Second Team. It was the first BIG EAST postseason honors of Melillo, Richard and Blazer’s college careers.
McNamara, who earned a team-record seven weekly awards, leads the Golden Eagles with 34 goals and 47 points this season. His 2.6 goals per game is ranked 17th among Division I players. He scored four goals five times this season, including Marquette’s 11-3 upset of then-No.6 Villanova.
Gately earned his second-straight Second Team selection by scoring 16 goals and 11 assists in 12 games. He set the Marquette career points record this season, which currently stands at 133.
Grill grabbed 28 loose balls and forced 11 turnovers this season.
Melillo is 143-of-246 (58 percent) on his draws this season. The transfer from NJIT took 95 percent of Marquette’s regular season face-offs.
Richard grabbed 52 loose balls, trailing only Melillo on the team. He’s second in career loose balls behind Byrnes.
Blazer has been Marquette’s starting goalie since the Villanova game April 2. He’s made 52 saves and has a 9.73 goals against average in six games.
Byrnes, Richard and Grill were all selected in the 2016 MLL Draft by Florida, New York and Denver, respectively.