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Luka Prpa Named To Preseason All-Big East Team; Marquette Men’s Soccer Picked Seventh

The Golden Eagles’ sophomore midfielder was robbed of his rightful place as Preseason Offensive Player of the Year.

Marquette men's soccer
Luka Prpa looks to lead the Marquette offense in 2017.

Attention authorities. Marquette men’s soccer midfielder Luka Prpa has been a victim of a robbery.

While the sophomore has been named to the 2017 Preseason All-Big East Team (and hooray for him for that), he was not a unanimous choice for that honor, nor was he named Preseason Offensive Player of the Year as befitting a player that had the most points in the Big East last season out of all of the players that return for the 2017 campaign.

Instead, the Preseason OPOY honors went to Providence’s Mac Steeves, who played two matches in 2016 before falling to a season ending knee injury. To his credit, Steeves had 28 points on 13 goals and two assists in 2015, and he was the 2016 Big East Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. I just can’t get on board with picking a guy coming off a season ending injury over Prpa, who had 26 points on 10 goals and six assists last season.

I also don’t get how the returning points leader from 2016 isn’t a unanimous choice for the all-league team. Marquette’s Louis Bennett was not allowed to vote for Prpa per league polling rules, but that just means that there’s at least one coach in the Big East that was unimpressed with that 26 point performance by a freshman. What gives, mystery coach/crazy person?

Elsewhere in the voting, Marquette as a team was picked to finish seventh in the Big East this season. A seventh place finish would keep the Golden Eagles out of the conference tournament for the third consecutive season, though, and that’s no fun. Here’s how the voting went, with Providence gathering all nine possible first place votes.

1. Providence 81 pts.
2. Creighton 70
3. Butler 68
4. Villanova 52
5. Georgetown 46
6. Xavier 45
7. Marquette 30
8. St. John’s 27
9. DePaul 21
10. Seton Hall 10

As you can see, there’s a bit of a drop off from sixth to seventh, so whatever the organization for voting 4 through 6 was, the coaches see a clear dividing line in the league from that point down. For what it’s worth, I picked the Friars to win as well, and I had the Bulldogs and Bluejays flipped. I don’t have any idea why the coaches like Georgetown so much, nor do I understand why they dislike St. John’s so much.

The other two individual awards went to Xavier’s Cory Brown for Preseason Defensive Player of the Year and Georgetown’s J.T. Marcinkowski for Preseason Goalkeeper of the Year. While Brown is a wholly unsurprising choice as the 2016 postseason DPOY, Marcinkowski is a shocker. Georgetown went 6-9-2 overall last season with a 3-4-2 mark in league action, and at least some of that was caused by Marcinkowski being not good. He had a goals-against average of 1.23 overall and a save percentage of .768, both of which had him ranked seventh in the Big East last year. Marcinkowski was even worse in league play, posting a 1.38 and a .723. How any of this is better than Providence’s Colin Miller, who led the league in both categories last season (0.74 and .848 overall) and returns for his redshirt junior year in 2017, I’ll never know.

Here’s the preseason all-league team, which has 12 players on it thanks to a tie in the voting.

Ricky Lopez-Espin, Creighton, Sr., F
Mac Steeves, Providence, RS-Sr., F
Harry Cooksley, St. John’s, Sr., F ^
Lewis Suddick, Butler, So., M
Jared Timmer, Butler, Jr., M
Christopher Lema, Georgetown, Sr., M
Luka Prpa, Marquette, So., M
Andreas Bartosinksi, Villanova, Sr., M
Lucas Stauffer, Creighton, Jr., D
Mark Jecewiz, Providence, RS-Jr., D
Cory Brown, Xavier, Sr., D ^
JT Marcinkowski, Georgetown, Jr., GK

As you can see, Brown and St. John’s Harry Cooksley are the only two unanimous choices, which kind of makes me feel better about Prpa getting hosed on the OPOY vote. Not even every coach thinks Steeves belongs on this list. However, I have no idea what Cooksley is doing getting all nine votes. He led the Big East in shots last season and finished in a tie for 10th in points, largely powered by six assists. Don’t get me wrong, I had him on my list for the all-league team..... but I don’t see how he gets all nine votes while Suddick, Prpa, and Stauffer don’t.

My all-league picks were pretty accurate, with Steeves replacing Xavier’s Matt Vasquenza, Bartosinski replacing his teammate, Miguel Polley, and of course, Marcinkowski going in over Miller. Christopher Lema is an extra addition in the midfield, and I’ll admit I considered him for my team before settling on the four midfielders.