With official games just under two weeks away, it's time for the Big East to announce the results of the preseason poll of the men's soccer coaches.
Georgetown and Marquette, the two teams that finished tied atop the table in 2013, tied in the preseason voting with 75 points each. Georgetown received five first place votes, while the Golden Eagles picked up four first place votes. Creighton received the final first place vote, and I'm guessing that Marquette finished second on that ballot, thereby giving them the boost to tie the Hoyas. St. John's and Providence round out the top five, with Butler and Xavier, two teams that I had predicted in the top five, following along behind them. Villanova, Seton Hall, and DePaul close out the full league order. Shout out to DePaul for not being picked last on every ballot.
Onwards to individual awards, then!
As mentioned at the top of the page, Marquette's Axel Sjoberg was named the preseason Defensive Player of the Year. In 2013, Sjoberg was named Most Outstanding Defensive Player of the Big East tournament and was First Team All-Big East. The redshirt junior from Sweden has become one of the best defensive players in the country, and at 6'7" tall, he provides a complicated presence for opposing sides to deal with. In our predictions post, I had Sjoberg has a coin toss choice between him and Tim Parker from St. John's, so it's not surprising that he's the guy.
The other two individual awards both went to Georgetown. Forward Brandon Allen was named preseason Offensive Player of the Year, while Tomas Gomez earned the same honor amongst the goalkeepers. Allen's not a surprise, as he finished last season with the highest point total in the Big East, and neither is Gomez. Gomez had the best statistical season of all the keepers in the Big East in 2013, but my preseason prediction went to MU's Charlie Lyon, since he had tied with Gomez for the postseason honors of Goalkeeper of the Year.
The all-conference team is as follows:
Brandon Allen, Georgetown, Jr., F ^
Louis Bennett II, Marquette, So., M
Samuel Geiler, Seton Hall, So., M
David Goldsmith, Butler, So., F
Tomas Gomez, Georgetown, Sr., GK
Julian Gressel, Providence, So., F
Alex Muyl, Georgetown, So., F
C. Nortey, Marquette, R-Jr., F ^
Tim Parker, St. John’s, Sr., D ^
Timo Pitter, Creighton, Jr., M
Jose Ribas, Creighton, Sr., D
Axel Sjöberg, Marquette, R-Jr., D ^
Zach Steinberger, Butler, Sr., M
Will Walker, Xavier, R-Sr., M
Joshua Yaro, Georgetown, So., D
The carrots note the players that were unanimous choices. Allen and Sjoberg earned the individual honors, so that's not surprising, and I thought that Parker was close to the DPOY award, so that makes sense. The one that is slightly surprising is Marquette's C. Nortey. The native of Ghana might be one of the most uniquely gifted players in the conference, but he was easily beaten out for the various scoring titles last season, and even tied with Butler's David Goldsmith for the most game winning goals.
Joining Nortey and Sjoberg on the all-conference team is sophomore midfielder Louis Bennett II. The coach's kid finished second on the team in points and was Honorable Mention all-Big East in 2013, plus he got the opportunity to train with the US Men's National Team U-20 squad this summer. That makes him one of the best sophomores in the country regardless of position by default, so he's an obvious choice for this squad.
There were ties in the voting that led to five forwards and five midfielders chosen to the all-conference team, so that's a total of 14 field players plus Gomez at keeper. Even with an extra three guys on the team, I still only managed to get eight guys right. All three of my forwards and all three of my picks on defense made it in, along with two of my midfielders. The players that I missed on - Geiler, Gressel, Muyl, Pitter, Ribas, and Walker - are all legitimate players in the conference. Most of them got left out of my best XI just by giving my predictions a 3-4-3 formation and going from there. I had Sean Sepe from St. John's and Providence's Phil Towler on my squad, and while I thought they deserved inclusion, I can't blame the coaches for leaving them out in favor of these guys instead.