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2016 Big East Women’s Soccer: Where Are We Now?

League play kicks off on Saturday, so let’s see what everyone’s been doing so far this season.

Marquette women's soccer
Molly Pfeiffer leads the Marquette attack with three goals so far this season.
MarquetteImages.com

Hey, it’s Saturday! That means that the Big East women’s soccer schedule gets started today. Two matches today and three more on Sunday (including YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles), so we’ll take some time to see what everyone’s been up to so far this season. SPOILER ALERT: Georgetown is even better than expected.

This will double as the preview for Marquette’s league opener, so let’s get those details out of the way.....

Big East Match #1: at Creighton (5-1-2)

When: Sunday, September 25, 2016, at 1pm CT
Where: Morrison Stadium in Omaha, NE
Audio/Visual: The Big East Digital Network on Fox Sports Go has the video stream, plus there’s live stats.
Twitter Updates: @MUWomensSoccer & @CreightonWSOC

As we go through the rundown here, you’ll see each team along with their current record and their national ranking according to Bennett Rank on HeroSports.com. Underneath that, you’ll see each team’s leader in their offensive categories, plus their top keeper. Each capsule look is wrapped up with each team’s best win and worst loss of the season, also according to Bennett Rank. One team has a national poll ranking at this point, and I’m pretty sure that you smart types that are reading about women’s college soccer can figure that out when you get to it.

Onwards.....


Butler (7-2-1, #61)

Points Leader: Serina Kashimoto, 18 (#2)
Goals Leader: Serina Kashimoto, 7 (T-2)
Assists Leader: Serina Kashimoto & Maria Collica, 4 (T-3)
Keeper: Hannah Luedtke - 0.57 GAA (#2); .833 SV% (#3)
Best Win: vs #51 SMU on a neutral field, 2-1
Worst Loss: vs #105 Indiana, 1-0

Serina Kashimoto is on fire. She needs just two more goals this season to match her collegiate career total coming into this year, and she’s already surpassed her career best of six that she posted last year. Largely speaking, she’s been a defensive presence for the Bulldogs, and was even listed as a defender when she was named to the All-Big East First Team as a sophomore in 2014. That has obviously changed, though, as teams will be forced to keep an eye on her at all times.

It should be noted, though, that Kashimoto’s offensive explosion has come against largely unimpressive teams. Yes, there’s the win against SMU, and yes, she scored Butler’s first goal there. There’s also a lot of scoring against sub-150 opponents there. Most of the Big East slate is going to be top 100 foes for the Bulldogs, so we’ll have to see if this kind of output can survive against an increased level of competition.

One thing to watch for is the usage of Halle Stelbasky. The sophomore has been reduced to super-sub duty after starting 18 games a year ago and tallying nine goals and three assists. Playing less than 30 minutes a game hasn’t really slowed down her scoring (3G, 1A), so you’d have to figure that more minutes would mean more goals for Stelbasky.

Creighton (5-1-2, #87)

Points Leader: Lauren Sullivan, 13 (#5)
Goals Leader: Lauren Sullivan, 5 (T-4)
Assists Leader: Taryn Jakubowski, 4 (T-3)
Keeper: McKenzie Meola - 1.27 GAA (#8); .625 SV% (#10)
Best Win: vs #68 Iowa, 5-3
Only Loss: vs #48 Iowa State, 3-1

We’ll start where we always have to start for these kinds of things: explaining what the hell is going on with the goalkeeping situation. McKenzie Meola has made more starts than Erin Scott, even though Scott started the first two matches of the year. Meola has started each of the last four matches, but she was lifted at halftime of the most recent match. That was ended up as a 4-2 win over Yale, but it was 2-2 at halftime when head coach Ross Paule elected to switch to Scott. I would presume that Meola will get the start on Sunday, but I won’t be surprised if it’s Scott, either.

The big test for the Jays will be translating their non-conference success into Big East points. They went 8-3-0 in non-con a year ago, but 2-7 in conference matches. 2014? 8-1-0 before going 2-5-2. 2013? 7-2-0 before going 2-6-1 against Big East foes. They’ve gotten to this point before. What’s going to happen next?

DePaul (3-4-2, #98)

Points Leader: Ana Greik & Abby Reed, 10 (T-8)
Goals Leader: Ana Greik, 5 (T-4)
Assists Leader: Taylor Schissler & Franny Cerny, 3 (T-7)
Keeper: Lauren Frasca - 2.15 GAA; .538 SV%
Best Win: at #159 Western Michigan, 3-1
Worst Loss: at #82 William & Mary, 2-1

In a season that’s clearly not going the way that the Blue Demons would have wanted, they have a massive goalkeeper issue. Lauren Frasca has been the #1 keeper for most of the season, making six starts in DePaul’s nine matches. She’s also letting in more than two goals per 90 minutes, although that’s probably slightly inflated due to a 5-1 loss to Long Beach State. Jaimie Leas relieved Frasca after 33 minutes of DePaul’s third match of the season and started the next three games, allowing four goals and stopping four shots. Frasca returned for match #7, though, and it’s been her spot ever since.

DePaul started out the year winless in their first four contests, but they’ve rallied for a 3-2-0 record in their last five, including wins in their last two games. This may be a less surprising outcome for the start of the season than my brain wants to think, because I keep thinking about the DePaul team that faced Marquette in the Big East title game at Valley Fields and because I thought Alex Godinez was the best keeper in the conference for a long while. But the Blue Demons missed the NCAA tournament last year, even though they were 12-4-4. What’s happening now might just be the result of losing the players that made back to back tournaments in 2013 and 2014, much like what has happened to Marquette in the past two seasons.

Georgetown (8-1-0, #8)

NSCAA Ranking: #6
Points Leader: Rachel Corboz, 20 (#1)
Goals Leader: Grace Damaska, 8 (#1)
Assists Leader: Rachel Corboz, 6 (#1)
Keeper: Arielle Schechtman - 0.90 GAA (#3), .765 SV% (#6)
Best Win: vs #1 Virginia, 3-2
Only Loss: vs #3 Stanford, 3-0

I can not wait for the end of the Corboz Era in Washington, D.C.

First, it was three years of Daphne Corboz running wild for the Hoyas. Then Daphne and her younger sister Rachel played together for a year. Now Rachel’s a junior and she’s playing exactly like her sister did, delivering death via her educated feet. And I guess maybe her head, but she’s 5’5”, so probably not.

This was looking like it was going to be a down year for Big East women’s soccer. None of the teams in the league were getting votes in the preseason NSCAA top 25 poll. Now, thanks to wins over Virginia and West Virginia on consecutive Sundays, the Hoyas are ranked #6 in the country and poised to dominate the league. UGH.

Marquette (4-4-2, #56)

Points Leader: Molly Pfeiffer, 8
Goals Leader: Molly Pfeiffer, 3
Assists Leader: Four players with 2
Keeper: Maddy Henry - 1.44 GAA (#9); .722 SV% (#8)
Best Win: vs #14 Michigan, 2-1
Worst Loss: at #44 Kansas, 1-0

I have to say, I feel remarkably better about Marquette this season after doing the capsule assembly.

The Golden Eagles have yet to play an opponent outside the top 125 in the Bennett Rank, and they have wins against the two teams that are outside the top 100. Whether intentional or not, Marquette has played a remarkably difficult non-conference slate, and sitting at 4-4-2 at the end of it isn’t the worst result. The 1-3-1 record against top 25 teams isn’t bad, it just shows that Marquette maybe/probably isn’t a top 25 team. Which is fine.

The most pressing question right now for Marquette is figuring out how to hold a lead. MU took a 2-0 lead in each of their last two games, but then gave both leads back before scoring a verrrrry late goal to swipe away a win. The three goal performances are an excellent sign that Marquette is getting on the right track offensively, but the fact that they needed that third goal to win speaks to the difficulty that they’ve had maintaining possession of the ball this season.

Providence (6-3-1, #93)

Points Leader: Kathryn Hiller & Rachel Ugolik, 11 (T-6)
Goals Leader: Kathryn Hiller, 5 (T-4)
Assists Leader: Casey Estey, 5 (#2)
Keeper: Kristyn Shea - 1.05 GAA (#6); .810 SV% (#4)
Best Win: vs #131 Brown, 1-0
Worst Loss: at #111 Northeastern, 2-1 (2OT)

It would be wrong of us to dismiss a team with three top 10 scorers in the conference right now. Estey’s five assists power her to a tie for 10th in points in the league, keeping her within shouting distance of Hiller and Ugolik. It would also be wrong to dismiss a team that had a shutout streak of longer than four matches and has five total shutouts on the year.

So we can’t dismiss Providence out of hand. We can point out that four of the five shutouts were against sub-175 teams. But you don’t score five goals on Colgate while shutting them out on accident, so there’s a certain amount of ability from the Friars that we have to be aware of going forward.

St. John’s (5-1-3, #92)

Points Leader: Shea Connors, 7
Goals Leader: Three players with 2
Assists Leader: Shea Connors, 3 (T-7)
Keeper: Diana Poulin - 0.31 GAA (#1); .893 SV% (#1)
Best Win: vs #174 La Salle, 1-0
Only Loss: at #50 Portland, 2-1

I feel kind of bad for Diana Poulin.

As the two time Big East Goalkeeper of the Year and the winner of this year’s preseason edition of that award, she’s clearly the best keeper in the league. Unfortunately, she’s backing up an offense that’s averaging just 1.56 goals per game, and that number is inflated by a 5-1 win over Fairfield. Poulin has six shutouts on the year, but two of them are in scoreless draws and two more of those are in 1-0 victories. One of the 1-0 wins was an overtime win over #257 Central Connecticut.

In other words, it’s only been 10 months since Rachel Daly, St. John’s all time leading scorer, played for the Red Storm, but it probably feels a lot longer to Poulin.

Here’s the worst part about it: St. John’s is actually averaging the most shots per game in the Big East. They’re still a ridiculously proficient offense, even without Daly. They’re just not putting the ball in the net, which means Poulin is probably shouting “IS THAT GOAL REGULATION SIZE OR WHAT” at least once a match.

Seton Hall (4-3-1, #166)

Points Leader: Frankie Maier, 7
Goals Leader: Frankie Maier & Siobhan McGovern, 2
Assists Leader: Frankie Maier, 3 (T-7)
Keeper: Anna MacLean - 0.96 GAA (#4); .840 SV% (#2)
Best Win: at #163 Cornell, 1-0
Worst Loss: vs #135 Monmouth, 1-0

Well, here’s the good news for SHU: Their next win will tie their win total..... from the last two seasons combined. They already have twice as many wins as last year (2-14-2), and more than in 2014, too (3-10-5). Their next win will also tie their conference win total from a year ago, and yes, that means they went 1-8-0 in 2015.

Seton Hall is tied with Villanova for the fewest goals scored (eight) in the Big East this season so far, and they’re the only two squads with fewer than 10 goals. The upside of all of this is that Seton Hall has only allowed eight goals. That’s nowhere near the best mark in the league, believe it or not, and it’s not even the second fewest. It is tied for third fewest, so they’ve got that going for them, which is nice. Goalkeeper Anna MacLean is one of five keepers to be named GK of the Week by the league, and with an Honor Roll appearance tucked into her mitts as well, you’d have to say that she’s at least making an argument for a postseason award of some sort.

Villanova (2-7-0, #214)

Points Leader: Kristin Barbour, 9 (T-10)
Goals Leader: Kristin Barbour, 4 (T-8)
Assists Leader: Amanda Vocelka, 3 (T-7)
Keeper: Emmalee Meyer - 2.47 GAA; .653 SV% (#9)
Best Win: at #174 La Salle, 3-2 (2OT)
Worst Loss: vs #190 Drexel, 3-0

I’m not sure what to make of Villanova’s goalkeeping situation. Emmalee Meyer started the first seven matches of the season and played the entire match with one exception. She was lifted after 68 minutes in a 5-0 loss to Minnesota where she had already given up four goals. Meyer came right back against North Carolina in the next one, though.

With all that said, Emily Harris, the replacement against the Gophers, has started and played every minute in the last two matches. There’s no note about injury from VU, and honestly, Harris has been slightly worse, albeit in 400 fewer minutes. It’s possible that this is a permanent switch from Meyer, a senior, to Harris, a junior, but it looked like that a year ago as well and Meyer still ended up with over 1000 minutes played.

Speaking of last year, at least Nova is more interesting to watch this year. They scored eight goals for the entire season in 2015, and they already have eight in 2016. It’s only turned into one more victory in non-conference play, but at least there’s something going on for the Wildcats.

Xavier (6-3-1, #150)

Points Leader: Samantha Dewey, 14 (#4)
Goals Leader: Samantha Dewey, 5 (T-4)
Assists Leader: Samantha Dewey, 4 (T-3)
Keeper: Rachel Piccus - 1.25 GAA (#7); .791 SV% (#5)
Best Win: at #167 Dayton, 3-1
Worst Loss: at #222 IUPUI, 2-1

Officially, because of the volume of minutes she’s played so far, I feel like I had to list Rachel Piccus as XU’s top keeper here. I don’t feel comfortable with it, though, because Piccus started splitting games with Toni Bizzarro after the first five matches of the year. Bizzarro started the last of the split games, and she played the full 90 in Xavier’s most recent match, a 2-1 loss on the road against IUPUI. If I had to guess, I’d guess that Bizzarro will start their next match, but I also wouldn’t bet money on it.

Here’s the Big East scoring hierarchy at this point of the season: Rachel Corboz, Serina Kashimoto, Georgetown’s highly underrated Grace Damaska, and then Xavier’s Samantha Dewey. As a sophomore, Dewey’s the youngest of the top four scorers in the Big East, which means that we’re verrrry close to Dewey just destroying the rest of the league on a regular basis. Here’s the crazy thing: She finished fifth in the league in points a year ago and did not even make the All-Big East Second Team. She was second in assists! As a freshman! How did this go unrecognized?