This will double as the official preview for Marquette's match vs Creighton, too, so I suppose we should get some of the particulars out of the way.
When: Thursday, September 25, 2014, at 7pm
Where: Valley Fields
Audio/Visual: It's a home match, so that means free video streaming to go along with live stats.
Special Promotions: The 1st 200 students to the Valley get a MU Soccer pennant, and hot dogs, chips, and sodas are all just $1.
Twitter Updates: @MUWomensSoccer
For each team's capsule, you'll see their record next to a number. That's their ranking, according to BennettRank.com, which is attempting to do the same thing for soccer as KenPom.com has done for basketball. You'll also see a "Best Win" and a "Worst Loss" for each team, and those are determined by BennettRank as well.
Butler (6-4-0, #121)
Goals Leader: Elise Kotsakis, 7 (3rd)
Assists Leader: Sophia Maccagnone, 6 (T-1st)
Keeper: Jayne Heinrich - 0.91 GAA (4th), .788 SV% (5th)
Best Win: Neutral site vs #169 Ohio, 3-2 (2OT)
Worst Loss: at #190 Evansville, 1-0
Oh, look, Elise Kotsakis has already scored more goals this season than all of last season. This is why she was on my preseason all-Big East squad, but for some reason, she got left off by the coaches. Suspicious, don't you think? Maccagnone has turned into a facilitator in the early goings of her junior season, with only one goal this season after leading the Bulldogs with 10 last season. Heinrich has started eight of their 10 games, but it's kind of a mess from a logistcal standpoint. In their own preseason preview, Butler mentioned expecting Mackenzie Hopkins to take over in net from Julie Burton. Hopkins has only played 30 minutes this season, and freshman Madison Card got the nod in the Bulldogs' first two matches of the season before giving way to Heinrich.
The Bulldogs have been a team of streaks all year. They opened with a win, then lost four straight. As you can guess from their record, they've now won five straight, although they're all against not terribly exciting competition. In fact, BennettRank actually marks their win over IUPUI as a "bad win." This is probably a valid assessment, as Butler carried a 1-0 lead for 82 minutes before giving up a late goal on one of just six shots on the day for the Jaguars and getting a 90th minute strike for the win.
Creighton (8-1-0, #148)
Goals Leader: Three players tied with 5 (T-5th)
Assists Leader: Two players tied with 3 (T-7th)
Keeper: Danielle Rice - 1.00 GAA (5th), .836 SV% (2nd)
Best Win: At #172 South Dakota State, 3-2
Only Loss: vs #210 Missouri-Kansas City, 2-0
For a moment there, it looked like the Bluejays were on a roll to start the season. And then they got shutout by UMKC at home. So even though they had a seven match winning streak to open up, now we have to take a deeper look. The deeper look shows us that Creighton hasn't challenged themselves at all with this schedule, with Drake being the only team above 200 on the slate.
Creighton wasn't expected to do much in league play this year, after being picked to finish eighth. It's possible that the lighter schedule may pay dividends for the Jays, as the goals are coming from players who got their experience under their belt last year. Still, the jump from the teams that Creighton has been playing to the teams that they'll be playing in league action is pretty steep, so we'll have to see if they can keep it up.
DePaul (8-0-1, #81)
NSCAA Ranking: #15
Goals Leader: Abby Reed, 8 (T-1st)
Assists Leader: Alexa Ben, 6 (T-1st)
Keeper: Alejandria Godinez - 0.84 GAA (3rd), .741 SV% (7th)
Best Win: At #46 Nebraska, 2-1
I had Georgetown's Emma Newins as my preseason all-conference goalkeeper. To put it bluntly, I didn't think Alejandria Godinez could repeat what she did last year.
I was wrong.
Maybe not completely, as her stats are slightly worse than in 2013, but hey, she's only halfway done with the season. Even if Godinez is regressing to the mean a little bit, the Blue Demons have picked up the slack on the other end. It's been two newcomers - Reed and Ben - who have done the most damage for DePaul this season. Reed is a sophomore transfer from Indiana State, where she was all-Missouri Valley First Team a year ago, while Ben is making it hard to find any other contenders for Rookie of the Year.
Georgetown (5-2-2, #32)
Goals Leader: Vanessa Skrumbis, 8 (T-1st)
Assists Leader: Daphne Corboz, 6 (T-1st)
Keeper: Emma Newins - 1.30 GAA (7th), .756 GAA (6th)
Best Win: At #47 San Diego, 3-1
Worst Loss: Neutral site vs #31 Wake Forest, 2-0
If you put your thumb over their record, you'd think that Georgetown is chugging along right now as the clear best team in the Big East. They're matching DePaul in the scoring categories, and they've got a tougher schedule than the Blue Demons. But then we have to look at Emma Newins' stats, and those two losses and two draws. Maybe you could ignore the draws, as they're against top 75 opponents. But the losses are harder to ignore, even though they're both against top 35 teams.
Georgetown lost two games in one weekend by a combined score of 8-1. Is the biggest problem there a 6-1 loss to a Virginia Tech team that's now ranked #2 in the country? Yup. Did Georgetown allow three goals in the final 18 minutes? Yup. Did the Hoyas concede a goal 45 seconds after cutting VT's lead in half? You betcha. Do I wish Emily Menges was still on this team so I could make cracks about her 2013 Defensive Player of the Year award? For sure.
Marquette (4-5-1, #50)
Goals Leader: Jacie Jermier, 3
Assists Leader: Two players tied with 2
Keeper: Amanda Engel - 1.40 GAA (8th), .731 SV% (9th)
Best Win: vs #24 Kansas, 1-0
Worst Loss: vs #113 UW-Milwaukee, 5-4
I would argue that the loss to UWM is actually better than the loss to Northwestern. Northwestern's ranking is benefiting from being multiple games into a Big Ten schedule at this point, plus UWM is picked to win the Horizon League while the Wildcats are going nowhere fast for yet another season.
In any case, I don't know how to judge MU's early season struggles, as they looked like a traditional Markus Roeders coached team this past weekend while picking up the first two consecutive wins of the season. As a cherry on top, they're also the two best wins of the season. It's probably asking too much for a 9-0-0 Big East record for a second consecutive season, but don't be surprised when the Golden Eagles are sitting at home resting with a bye when it comes time for the Big East tournament quarterfinals.
Providence (4-3-2, #135)
Goals Leader: Catherine Zimmerman, 4 (10th)
Assists Leader: Catherine Zimmerman, 3 (T-7th)
Keeper: Kristyn Shea - 0.84 GAA (2nd), .814 SV% (4th)
Best Win: vs #110 Brown, 1-0
Worst Loss: vs #103 Harvard, 2-0
I'd say that the Friars are just a middling side, winning games they should win and losing games they were expected to lose, but then I look at the Big East preseason coaches' poll. PC was picked to finish ninth this season, and with 22 points to their credit, that's just four more points than they would have gotten if everyone had picked them to finish second from the bottom. Yet somehow, they're here, looking feistier than expected, and by "somehow," I mean "Kristyn Shea is awesome." The sophomore from Piscataway, NJ, got lifted halfway through the season last year in favor of Megan Goudreault, but she's retaken her starting slot this season and has been much, much better than she was in 2013.
St. John's (4-5-0, #136)
Goals Leader: Rachel Daly, 5 (T-5th)
Assists Leader: Two players tied with 2
Keeper: Diana Poulin - 1.66 GAA (9th), .643 SV% (10th)
Best Win: at #143 Delaware, 2-1 (OT)
Worst Loss: at #175 Army, 2-1
Last year, when recapping St. John's trip to Marquette, I led with knowing that two things were likely for that game: Rachel Daly would score a goal and Diana Poulin wouldn't give one up. Only the first ended up being true, and it appears that this problem has magnified this season. Poulin has given up 15 goals already this season after allowing 20 all of last season. Daly's offensive might has also been mitigated after a 2013 season where she averaged more than a goal per game.
Only a home win over Stony Brook prevents the Red Storm from entering Big East play with a nasty losing streak. To make matters worse, St. John's had a 15 match home undefeated streak snapped earlier this season when they dropped a 2-1 defeat to Brown at Belson Stadium. The Bears scored in the 88th minute to take the win, although Daly had an equalizer waved off on an offsides call.
Seton Hall (3-4-2, #139)
Goals Leader: Six players tied with 1
Assists Leader: Amanda Gulli, 3 (T-7th)
Keeper: Illisa Blackshear, 0.57 GAA (1st), .886 SV% (1st)
Best Win: at #175 Army, 1-0 (2OT)
Worst Loss: vs #284 Rider, 1-0
If Illisa Blackshear doesn't start getting some offensive support, I don't want to be nearby when she loses it on her team. The sophomore from West Orange, NJ, took over the Pirates net in the middle of their 1-0 loss to Rutgers, and SHU is 2-2-2 since then. Both of the draws ended without a goal going in on either end, one of the wins was 1-0 in double overtime, and the Pirates scored just one goal in the two losses. Amanda Gulli is what passes for an offensive star so far this season for Seton Hall, as she's recorded a full three-quarters of their assists.
Villanova (2-5-2, #108)
Goals Leader: Victoria Gersh, 3
Assists Leader: Amanda Vocelka, 3 (T-7th)
Keeper: Emma Meyer - 1.74 GAA (10th), .732 SV% (8th)
Best Win: vs #107 James Madison, 3-0
Worst Loss: vs #157 Drexel, 2-1
One of the biggest problems for the Wildcats so far this season is that Katie Martin has been limited to just 371 of the team's 850 minutes of action. The Dallas native started all 19 matches for VU last season and tied for the fifth most points in the Big East with 22 during her freshman campaign. Martin has still managed to find the back of the net twice this season, but she's only started in two of the seven matches that she's appeared in. Martin's also missed each of the last two games for the Wildcats, a scoreless draw against Towson and a 4-0 loss to #21 West Virginia.
I don't know if Martin's presence could have helped Emma Meyer's stat line for sure, but you'd like to think that a more consistent scoring threat could help out the Nova defense. Meyer was actually pulled from the West Virginia match shortly after giving up the fourth goal, but she's started eight of Nova's nine matches, so I imagine we'll see her on Sunday when Villanova comes to Milwaukee.
Xavier (3-5-2, #153)
Goals Leader: Tori Doss, 3
Assists Leader: Catherine Allon, 2
Keeper: Katie Markesbery - 1.34 GAA (6th), .827 SV% (3rd)
Best Win: at #169 Ohio, 3-2 (2OT)
Worst Loss: vs #161 Towson, 2-0
Here's how the Musketeers' season is going: they needed to rally to win after conceding the first goal to Division III Ohio Northern, and yes, that's one of their three official wins on the season.
They picked up all three of those wins in a row, and head into conference play on a 0-2-2 run since then. Katie Markesbery has been better than her goals-against average indicates, as she's already earned two nods on the Big East Weekly Honor Roll this season.
The Xavier lineup situation is kind of a mess. Including Markesbery, only seven Musketeers have started every game, and only four more have played in every game. For comparison purposes, even with Mary Luba and Ashley Handwork missing a game already this season and a roster in complete shake up in an attempt to find a rotation that works, Marquette still has 12 players that have played in every match this season.