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2014 Big East Men's Soccer: Where Are We Now?

We wrap up our spins through the conference as league play gets started for Marquette this weekend...

Andy Lyons

This will double as our preview for the men's soccer season opener against Georgetown, so I suppose we should get to the particulars there.

At #7 Georgetown (6-1-3, 1-0-0 Big East)

When: Saturday, October 4, 2014, at 12pm Central
Where: Shaw Field in Washington, D.C.
Audio/Visual: WOO BIG EAST DIGITAL NETWORK!  You can use live stats to go along with the Fox Sports Go app.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteSoccer

For each team capsule, we've got their overall record, their Big East record (because everyone except MU & Providence started last weekend), and their ranking according to BennettRank.com.  As was the case with women's soccer, we're using BennettRank.com to get a feel for the quality of everyone's schedules, so you'll also see a Best Win and Worst (or Only) loss for each team. If you see a number in parenthesis next to a player's name, that's their ranking in the conference for that particular statistic.  Questions?  Well, that's what the comments section is for...

Butler (4-3-3, 0-1-0 Big East, #68)

Goals Leader: Two players tied with 4 (T-5th)
Assists Leader: Joseph Bastian, 3 (T-10th)
Keeper: Andy Holte - 0.92 GAA (5th), .800 SV% (5th)
Best Win: vs #117 Evansville, 2-1 (OT)
Worst Loss: at #142 Western Michigan, 2-1

First things first, we have to address the keeper issue.  Holte is not the keeper with the most minutes on the roster, playing just 390 minutes to Eric Dick's 600 minutes.  However, Holte has played the last four matches for the Bulldogs, so he gets recognition here as their top keeper.  For what it's worth, he's got better stats than Dick, and Butler is 2-1-1 with Holte in net.

One of the two players with four goals is David Goldsmith.  It's not a surprise to see the preseason all-conference player leading the way for the Bulldogs, but with just four goals halfway through the season, I don't think he's going to manage to make it to the 12 goals he tallied in his freshman season.  Jeff Adkins, who led the Big East in assists a year ago, is the other guy with four goals, and Zach Steinberger, who had six goals and was 9th in the Big East in points in 2013, has only managed two assists for Butler so far this season.

With a loss to Georgetown already on the board, here's Butler's next three games: at St. John's, at Creighton, home against Marquette.  If the Bulldogs want to make a second straight appearance in the Big East tournament, they're going to have to do it in the back end of the conference schedule, because that is a tough row to hoe to start the slate.

Creighton (7-1-1, 1-0-0 Big East, #23)

NSCAA Ranking: #11
Goals Leader: Fabian Herbers, 5 (T-2nd)
Assists Leader: Timo Pitter, 4 (T-3rd)
Keeper: Connor Sparrow - 0.32 GAA (1st), .885 SV% (2nd)
Best Win: vs #16 Stanford, 2-0
Only Loss: vs #43 Saint Louis, 1-0 (OT)

Well, I was wrong.

The first thing that happened as soon as I published my predictions for the preseason Big East coaches polling was I started hearing it from guys in Omaha about why the Jays were completely left out of the post.  Mea culpa, guys.

Of course, in my defense, I was expecting Alex Bolowich to return as keeper this season.  Two years ago, Creighton was led to the College Cup semifinals by Jeff Gal in net, who then transferred to Virginia so head coach Elmar Bolowich could play his son, Alex.  That didn't go well for the Bolowich family, as Creighton finished the regular season with a 9-7-2 record, then lost their first matches in both the Big East and NCAA tournaments.

There was, however, a bright spot, as Connor Sparrow made four starts for an injured Bolowich in the middle of the season and was fabulous in his appearances.  The elder Bolowich apparently agreed with that perspective, and Sparrow's played every minute this season, and is actually slightly statistically better than his 2013 numbers.  Now if you'll excuse me, I have "Sparrow Leads The Bluejays" jokes to write.

DePaul (4-4-2, 1-0-0 Big East, #91)

Goals Leader: Two players with 4 (T-5th)
Assists Leader: Hans Wustling, 4 (T-3rd)
Keeper: Mack Robinson - 1.22 GAA (9th), .780 SV% (7th)
Best Win: vs #106 Utah Valley, 1-0
Worst Loss: vs #142 Western Michigan, 1-0

DePaul just fouled Marquette again.

Last year, in the regular season finale, the Blue Demons snared a 2-1 lead in the first 33 minutes.  From that point on, DePaul was whistled for 14 fouls as they literally fought to keep their lead.  They were issued FIVE yellow cards in the final 30 minutes of the match, but kept the lead, and Marquette was forced to wait for help from Butler to clinch a share of the regular season title.

No, I haven't forgiven them.

Guess who leads the Big East in fouls so far this season?

Georgetown (6-1-3, 1-0-0 Big East, #5)

NSCAA Ranking: #7
Goals Leader: Brandon Allen, 8 (1st)
Assists Leader: Alex Muyl, 6 (1st)
Keeper: Tomas Gomez - 0.56 GAA (3rd), .806 SV% (4th)
Best Win: at #21 Maryland, 1-0
Only Loss: vs #61 VCU, 2-1 (OT)

That best win came in the Hoyas' most recent contest, and their only loss is marked by BennettRank.com as a "Bad Loss," mostly because Georgetown is awesome and because they were at home for that one.  Making it a little worse is the fact that Georgetown took a lead on a Brandon Allen goal just after halftime and couldn't hold the lead, nor even hang on for the draw in the extra session.

Allen was my pick and the coaches' pick as preseason Offensive Player of the Year, but my concern for him (and the Hoyas as well) was how Allen would perform without Steve Neumann drawing attention as well.  Turns out: Just fine.  Allen had 11 goals in all of 2013, so you can definitely make the argument that he's handling the extra attention by scoring more goals.  No one else has stepped into the scoring void for Georgetown (three players have two goals), but Alex Muyl's passing has been more prolific.  The horribly overlooked sophomore had nine helpers in his freshman campaign, and like Allen, he looks poised to roar past that total this season.

Marquette (6-2-0, #12)

NSCAA Ranking: #12
Goals Leader: C. Nortey, 4 (T-5th)
Assists Leader: Louis Bennett II, 4 (T-3rd)
Keeper: Charlie Lyon - 0.38 GAA (2nd), .889 SV% (1st)
Best Win: vs #32 Oregon State, 1-0
Worst Loss: at #15 Indiana, 1-0

Six straight shutouts, a new program record.  In the 2nd minute against Georgetown, Charlie Lyon's streak without allowing a goal will surpass the 600 minute mark.  He's already gone past that milestone for keeping balls out of the net at Valley Fields, with a home field streak of over 650 minutes.  This is why he was my pick for preseason Keeper of the Year over GU's Tomas Gomez.

With two goals against Wisconsin on Wednesday night, C. Nortey boosted himself into a tie for the third most goals in the Big East.  Bennett is already tied for the third most assists in the league, and it's really only a matter of time before the sophomore finds the back of the net himself.

If someone comes out of Saturday's match with the Hoyas with a win, they'll have the inside track to the #1 seed in the Big East tournament and a regular season title.  I say "if" because last year, Georgetown came away from The Valley with a 1-0 overtime win on what would turn out to be the only goal of the year for Hoyas defender Ted Helfrich.  It's not likely to be a fireworks show, at least not in the goals department.

Providence (5-2-0, #41)

Goals Leader: Markus Naglestad, 5 (T-2nd)
Assists Leader: Fabio Machado, 4 (T-3rd)
Keeper: Keasel Broome - 1.27 GAA (10th), .700 SV% (9th)
Best Win: at #71 Brown, 3-2 (OT)
Worst Loss: at #129 Quinnipiac, 3-1

Naglestad's spot atop the Friars' stat page needs an asterisk.  He recorded three goals in an NCAA record 120 second span against Rhode Island, and Naglestad had a penalty kick before that happened, giving him four goals in less than 13 minutes.  He's only scored one goal in the five matches since then, the first goal in PC's win over Brown.  So thumbs up to him on the record, but on the flip side, he didn't score in what BennettRank calls a Bad Loss to Quinnipiac.

Providence seems on the verge of doing something this season, but their defense needs to improve.  Keasel Broome has the second worst goals-against average amongst the current starting keepers in the Big East, but it might not be all his fault.  He's not being asked to make a lot of saves for the Friars (21, 9th most in the Big East), and Brandon Adler, an all-conference Honorable Mention defender a year ago, has struggled to make it out onto the field for PC this season with only four appearances in their seven matches.

St. John's (3-4-3, 0-1-0 Big East, #30)

Goals Leader: Two players with 2
Assists Leader: Seven players with 1
Keeper: Jordan Stagmiller - 1.03 GAA (7th), .796 SV% (6th)
Best Win: vs #37 Connecticut, 3-1
Worst Loss: at #84 West Virginia, 1-0

Losing an all-conference caliber goalie + an offensive power outage = bad times.

That's been the case for the Red Storm this season.  Jordan Stagmiller isn't quite the keeper that Rafael Diaz was over the past few years, which isn't intended as a knock on Stagmiller.  Then again, this isn't really a power outage, either.  Last year, St. John's had 25 goals in 20 matches, and now they have nine in 10 contests.  That's down, yes, but it's not THAT much down.

Coherency might be the problem for St. John's this season.  They have just three players - Stagmiller, Cody Albrecht, and Casey Osborne - who have started in all 10 matches, and only seven players have started all 10.  That group of seven does not include Tim Parker, who's regarded as one of the best defenders in the country, who has missed one game this season.

Seton Hall (2-4-2, 0-1-0 Big East, #110)

Goals Leader: Victor Manosalvas, 5 (T-2nd)
Assists Leader: Samuel Geiler, 4 (T-3rd)
Keeper: Julian Spindler - 1.66 GAA, .696 SV% (T-10th)
Best Win: vs #126 Monmouth, 1-0
Worst Loss: at #91 DePaul, 3-1

Well, when your worst loss is in conference play, that's not so bad.

Last year in this space, I lamented Julian Spindler's ability to keep the ball out of the net because the Pirates' defense wasn't making him do too much work, but he was still allowing goals at a crazy rate.  The good news is that he's making a lot more saves.  The bad news is that he's statistically the worst goalkeeper in the Big East, sitting dead last in goals-against average and in a tie with the now-deposed Eric Dick from Butler for last in save percentage.

Victor Manosalvas isn't in exactly the same position as Providence's Markus Naglestad, but it's close.  Manosalvas earned himself an Offensive Player of the Week nod for his three goals in the second weekend of the season, but those matches were both losses for the Pirates.  He's only scored twice since then and after Kai Greene and his four goals, there's not a lot of offensive threat on this squad.  Samuel Geiler had eight goals during his freshman campaign a year ago, but he's yet to find the back of the net in 2014.

Villanova (4-4-1, 0-1-0 Big East, #73)

Goals Leader: Aaron Dennis, 3
Assists Leader: Two players with 2
Keeper: Will Steiner - 0.64 GAA (4th), .872 SVV% (3rd)
Best Win: vs #147 Albany, 1-0
Worst Loss: at #188 Marist, 1-0

It took seven halves of soccer before the Wildcats finally found the back of the net this season.  They opened with three 1-0 losses, and given their 4-1-1 record since then, I'm guessing that they're going to end up regretting the first 270 minutes of the season when it comes time for the NCAA to announce the College Cup field.  The lone loss was in their Big East opener against Creighton, which is just one of at least three matches that they'll have to endure against surefire postseason teams in league action.

Sophomore Will Steiner has been great for the Wildcats this season after not playing at all in 2013.  One thing to keep an eye on, though: He's made the third most saves in the Big East so far this season.  Generally speaking, lots of saves does not lend itself to a sterling save percentage by the end of the season, so we'll have to see if Steiner and his defense will hold up.

Xavier (6-3-0, 1-0-0 Big East, #33)

Goals Leader: Two players with 3
Assists Leader: Kyle Martin, 5 (2nd)
Keeper: Eric Osswald - 1.01 GAA (6th), .742 SV% (8th)
Best Win: vs #28 Loyola Marymount, 2-0
Worst Loss: vs #155 Lipscomb, 3-2

I'm now accepting explanations as to how the Musketeers lost 3-2 to Lipscomb in their opener, but figured out a way to beat Loyola Marymount 2-0.  Of course, maybe LMU is just being overvalued for falling in overtime to a very good UC-Irvine team.

Xavier finished just one point shy of a tie for first place in the Big East a year ago, but they were picked to finish seventh by the league's coaches this year.  Their offense isn't outstanding at first glance, but they are tied for the third most goals in the conference.  Will Walker has stopped forward and taken up an even bigger role following the departure of his brother Matt, and is tied for the team lead with eight points, even though he's not leading the team in goals or assists.