ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL!
Of course, by football, I mean the sport that we call soccer here in the states, and by soccer, I specifically mean Big East women’s soccer, as the 10 teams kick off conference action this weekend. There’s two games on Saturday with another three all going off at noon Central time on Sunday, including YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles on the road against Butler.
With that on the horizon, let’s do a rapid-ish fire around the league and see what everyone has been up to so far in 2017. At the top of each team’s capsule, you’ll see their name, their record so far, and their national ranking according to BennettRank on HeroSports.com. Underneath that, we’ve got each squad’s statistical leaders, and, where appropriate, their rank in the Big East in parenthesis. Lastly, we’ll show you their best win and worst loss of the season so far, again determined by BennettRank.
Let’s get to it, then......
Butler Bulldogs (6-1-1, #61)
Points Leader: Caitlyn DiSarcina, 5
Goals Leader: Caitlyn DiSarcina, 2
Assists Leader: Amanda Kowalski, 2 (T-8th)
Top Keeper: Hannah Luedtke - 0.22 GAA (2nd); .950 SV% (2nd)
Best Win: vs #120 Bowling Green, 2-0
Only Loss: at #242 Ohio, 1-0
I feel like Butler is an incredibly frustrating team to watch.
They’ve allowed just one goal all season; which came in the fourth minute of their only loss in 2017. They’re currently riding a shutout streak of over 626 minutes and knocked off #10 Texas A&M in College Station on September 10th. None of that’s the frustrating part, of course, although I guess the goal might be at this point.
No, the frustrating part comes in the fact that they’re averaging just one goal per game while allowing just the one marker all season. To make things worse, Butler has an incredibly unsettled goalie situation. I went with Luedtke as the primary here, but I’m not sure that’s right. The redshirt sophomore has played every minute of the last two matches, including the win over A&M. However, she’s barely played more than half of the minutes of the season because she’s been sharing time with freshman Leonie Doege. The German born keeper hasn’t allowed a goal all season in 335 minutes, including taking the full run of the match in BU’s scoreless draw of a season opener against #18 Notre Dame. In case you were wondering, yes, she’s the only keeper that Luedtke is trailing in the official league stats.
Somehow, Doege gave way to Luedtke for the next match — the loss to Ohio, not coincidentally — then went back in against Michigan State. The pair split the next three matches down the middle before Luedtke took over for all of the last two. I have no idea who will be in net on Sunday against Marquette.
Creighton Bluejays (2-6-1, #239)
Points Leader: Taryn Jakubowski, 6
Goals Leader: Taryn Jakubowski, 3 (T-7th)
Assists Leader: Six players with 1
Top Keeper: McKenzie Meola - 2.18 GAA; .727 SV% (8th)
Best Win: vs #153 Kansas State, 3-2
Worst Loss: at #259 South Dakota, 1-0 (OT)
So, yeah. Creighton might be not great, guys. After starting the season with five straight losses, they’re 2-1-1 in their last four, so that’s something, at least. Even the five straight losses wasn’t that big of a deal, because Wisconsin and Oklahoma State are respectable opponents. Losing by a combined score of 6-0 isn’t super, though.
Just from looking at the stats for McKenzie Meola, you’re probably thinking that Creighton has a massive defensive problem, and you wouldn’t be wrong. It goes deeper than that, though. Like, -75 shot differential deeper. As in “outshot by more than eight shots per game on average” deeper. Meola’s save percentage shows that she’s doing a heck of a job with what she’s been given, and her spot atop the Big East saves chart right now bears that out.
DePaul Blue Demons (4-5-0, #54)
Points Leader: Franny Cerny, 11 (T-2nd)
Goals Leader: Franny Cerny, 5 (T-1st)
Assists Leader: Madeline Frick, 3 (T-3rd)
Top Keeper: Lauren Frasca - 1.04 GAA (5th); .786 GAA (6th)
Best Win: vs #11 Pepperdine, 1-0
Worst Loss: at #158 Illinois, 2-1
For the record, no, I’m not entirely sure why BennettRank loves Pepperdine so much, but hey, it’s working out for DePaul right now. As expected, Franny Cerny is wrecking shop on offense for the Blue Demons, but it’s Alexa Ben that’s going unsung in the stat capsule above. The senior midfielder from Schaumburg has already tacked on four goals and an assist to her already gaudy career marks (4th most goals all time, 2nd most assists), and it’s that one-two punch with Cerny that makes DePaul so dangerous on a regular basis.
That loss to Illinois is a big question mark, though. Their other losses this season: #45 Northwestern, #14 Purdue, #28 Texas A&M, and #69 Loyola-Chicago, all on the road. Yes, the Illini game was on the road too, but you can see how it doesn’t fit in the picture frame with the other losses. Essentially, they got a little unlucky. DePaul outshot Illinois, 15-9, down in Champaign, but the Illini got goals in the 68th and 88th minutes to provide the winning margin. The initial attempt on that 88th minute goal was from point blank range, and Frasca couldn’t collect it, leading to Illinois heading it home.
Georgetown Hoyas (6-2-1, #19)
Points Leader: Rachel Corboz, 12 (1st)
Goals Leader: Caitlin Farrell, 5 (T-1st)
Assists Leader: Rachel Corboz, 4 (T-1st)
Top Keeper: Arielle Schechtman - 0.52 GAA (3rd); .783 SV% (7th)
Best Win: at #123 Delaware, 1-0
Worst Loss: vs #23 West Virginia, 1-0
Look, with the number of goals that the Hoyas are pumping into the net (the most in the Big East, six more than anyone else), I’m not going to say anything bad about them. I am going to point out that they are 0-1-2 against top 120 opponents, though.
I’m also going to point out that they scored 10 of their goals this season against the two worst teams on their schedule. Is it fair to call them a paper tiger? Probably not. They allowed an 11th minute goal to West Virginia but still outshot the Mountaineers, 13-7. Nobody is happy about going to a scoreless draw with Rutgers when GU outshot them 14-4, but it happened, and by the way, Rutgers hasn’t allowed a goal all year.
Do I feel a little bit better about Marquette’s chances of beating them on October 19th in D.C.? Teensy bit.
Marquette Golden Eagles (7-2-1, #77)
Points Leader: Darian Powell, 10 (T-4th)
Goals Leader: Darian Powell, 3 (T-7th)
Assists Leader: Darian Powell, 4 (T-1st)
Top Keeper: Maddy Henry - 0.80 GAA (4th); .869 SV% (3rd)
Best Win: at #68 Louisville, 2-0
Worst Loss: at #84 Milwaukee, 2-1
Remember how we talked about Creighton’s shot differential problem? Marquette doesn’t have that much of a problem. Right now, MU is being outshot by their opponents to a tune of 150-148. That’s not good, of course, but oh, it’s just two measly shots.
Ok, getting outshot 20-7 by Stanford isn’t that big of a deal. The Cardinal are a great team. Getting outshot 25-1 by Boston University, a borderline top 100 team? Bad. Marquette won, but still, bad. Getting outshot 26-16 by Illinois State at home, less than a week after the BU game? Significant sign that there is a problem.
At least something resembling a problem. Those three games comprise nearly half (71 of 150) of MU’s shots against this season. The Golden Eagles are outshooting the other seven opponents 124-79, which is pretty good! More of that please.
Perhaps Carrie Madden returning to the lineup will make a difference. The redshirt junior missed both the BU and ISU games due to injury and only played 22 minutes against Milwaukee in the most recent outing. Even after missing three full games, Madden is still tied for second on the team in points, goals, and assists, and she sits fourth in shots.
One final note: Darian Powell now has 21 career goals, seven career assists, and 49 career points. She is tied for the ninth most goals in program history, and she is 10 points shy of a tie for the ninth most points in program history. Nine guaranteed matches left to go.....
Providence Friars (5-4-0, #93)
Points Leader: Juliana Pellegrini, 5
Goals Leader: Juliana Pellegrini, 2
Assists Leader: Kayla Steeves & Katie Day, 2 (T-8th)
Top Keeper: Shelby Hogan - 1.22 GAA (6th); .796 SV% (5th)
Best Win: vs #82 Arkansas, 4-3
Worst Loss: vs #116 William & Mary on a neutral field, 2-0
Uh, guys? Is Providence good?
They’ve won four straight coming into the start of league play, including two against top 100 opponents. It’s not great that they’ve gone 1-4-0 in road/neutral matches this season, but William & Mary is a respectable team and all of their other losses this season are to those road/neutral teams. They went out and challenged themselves a bit and it just didn’t work out perfectly for them.
It might seem ever so slightly troubling that I’m asking if the Friars are good this season with a leading scorer with two goals. Well, that’s a fair assessment. Here’s the deal, though: Providence has had 12 different women find the back of the net already this season. Juliana Pellegrini is the only one to score twice. Three players have 10 or more shots, but six more have more than five to this point. Nine different PC players have recorded an assist. I don’t know if any of this is going to turn into wins in league play, but if they’re going to play a selfless style of soccer, that might just work out in their favor.
St. John’s Red Storm (4-4-1, #121)
Points Leader: Christina Bellero, 10 (T-4th)
Goals Leader: Christina Bellero, 4 (T-3rd)
Assists Leader: Three players with 2 (T-8th)
Top Keeper: Jordan Kamp - 1.25 GAA (8th); .733 SV% (9th)
Best Win: vs #109 Connecticut on a neutral field, 1-0
Worst Loss: vs #119 Lehigh, 2-1
After four stellar years of Diana Poulin, St. John’s goalkeeping situation is shaky right now.
Redshirt freshman Jordan Kamp seems to be the primary keeper for the Red Storm. However, true freshman Antonia Tammaro has started and gone the full 90 in three games this season, including each of the last two on the SJU schedule. Both of those were losses, but both were also against top 100 competition. There’s nothing on the St. John’s website that indicates that Kamp is unavailable due to injury/personal leave/alien abduction, so who knows what the cause is. Anyway, I went with Kamp as the primary here, because Tammaro doesn’t have the minutes to qualify for the leader board.
I feel bad for Sarah Chaides, the lone senior in the group of four keepers on this roster. She’s appeared in one match for SJU, allowing one goal in 16-plus minutes against Fairfield last year. I’m not saying she should have played over Poulin, but it’s kind of a bummer that she can’t get a crack over Kamp or Tammaro.
Oh, and Christina Bellero is pretty good, so watch out for her.
Seton Hall Pirates (0-6-2, #276)
Points Leader: Julia Stirpe, 3
Goals Leader: Five players with 1
Assists Leader: Three players with 1
Top Keeper: Anna MacLean - 1.77 GAA; .688 SV%
Worst Loss: at #279 Loyola-Maryland, 1-0 (OT)
They’re winless with road draws against Fordham and Duquesne. Do we need to talk about this further? Both draws had the Pirates scoring the early goal with the opposition tying it later on and attempting to balance their way out of game.
I do have to give Seton Hall credit for their defense being stingy about allowing shots. They’re averaging just under 11 shots per game by their opponents, and that’s pretty good. It seems that SHU’s downfall has been opponents getting off quality shots, or at the very least opportunistic shots, given how low MacLean’s save percentage is after eight games.
Villanova Wildcats (4-5-0, #99)
Points Leader: Emily Kuefler, 9 (6th)
Goals Leader: Emily Kuefler, 4 (T-3rd)
Assists Leader: Kristin Barbour, 2 (T-8th)
Top Keeper: Emily Harris - 1.22 GAA (7th); .732 SV% (10th)
Best Win: vs #87 Harvard, 2-1
Worst Loss: at #119 Lehigh, 1-0
It seems Villanova might fall into that “Are they good?” category with Providence. Even at 4-5-0, their losses are either understandable — #9 Princeton! -- or essentially toss up games, like on the road against top 120 foes as is the case with that Lehigh loss. If you’re a fringe top 100 team, that loss to Lehigh isn’t that big of a deal.
The Wildcats clearly have something unique going on with Emily Kuefler, but there is a question as to how long she can keep this up. The senior defender from Massachusetts had two career goals and two career assists coming into this season, and not for lack of trying. Kuefler has been a starter for Villanova since stepping onto campus, so she’s had the playing time, but largely because of her status as a defensive player, that hasn’t resulted in goals. Two of her markers this season came off of corner kicks, and that’s not surprising for a defensive player. However, her other two, described as coming off “a through ball to the center box” and a “one on one with goalie,” are not typical goals for a player like Kuefler. It’s possible that new head coach Chris McLain has her playing a slightly different role than a traditional defender.
Xavier Musketeers (4-4-2, #151)
Points Leader: Emma Westwater, 7 (T-9th)
Goals Leader: Three players with 3 (T-7th)
Assists Leader: Courtney Lankford & Carrie Lewis, 2 (T-8th)
Top Keeper: Toni Bizzarro - 1.38 GAA (9th); .800 SV% (4th)
Best Win: vs #185 Northern Kentucky, 2-1
Worst Loss: vs #224 Eastern Kentucky, 1-0
Like Villanova, Xavier has a new head coach this season in Nate Lie. However, he wasn’t supposed to be the Xavier head coach this season. Kacey White was hired in December to replace Woody Sherwood, who had a record of 47-72-10 in seven seasons. However, White, a former United States Women’s National Team player, was hired away by US Soccer in April, leaving the XU athletic department scrambling ever so slightly. Lie was hired in mid-May, so I’m sure it’s been a crazy few months for him, and more power to him for having the Musketeers at .500 at this point of the season.
Xavier’s not that far from a record of 7-4-0, either. They had draws with Pittsburgh and Kent State, as well as an overtime loss to Dayton in their most recent outing. As is always the case with overtime games with golden goal rules in place, these weren’t that far from ending up as wins for XU. Maybe a lucky bounce here or there, and they could be sitting pretty with a few extra wins.
Of course, they’re also kind of lucky to be at 4-4-2. Xavier leads the Big East in saves made by their keepers, which is generally the kind of thing that you don’t like to see if you’re a coach. Obviously saves are great, but wouldn’t you prefer that your opponent never gets a quality shot off in the first place?