On Wednesday, the Big East league office announced the results of the preseason voting of the league’s coaches in men’s soccer. Marquette midfielder Luka Prpa was named to the preseason all-conference team while the team was picked to finish sixth in the Big East this season.
At The Top of #BEfutbol!— BIG EAST Conference (@BIGEAST) August 15, 2018
The @GeorgetownHoyas and @ButlerAthletics are 1 and 2 in the Preseason Poll. pic.twitter.com/Apo44DmgXL
The All-BIG EAST Men's ⚽️ Preseason Team. @GUHoyasMSoccer's Dodson, Achara and McDonough @ButlerMSoccer's Guhl, Moulden and Timmer@XavierMSOC's Hestnes and Taylor@PCFriarsMSoccer's Griffin and Miller@marquettesoccer's Luka Prpa@creightonmsoc's Joel Rydstrand#BEfutbol pic.twitter.com/2hmz9nOn6x— BIG EAST Conference (@BIGEAST) August 15, 2018
After a strong freshman campaign of nine goals and five assists, Prpa took on a different role with Marquette in 2017. He tallied just one goal and five assists in his sophomore season, but his skills on the field are too much to ignore when it comes to assembling a list of the best 11 players in the Big East.
Let’s start with the league’s predicted order of finish for 2018.
1. Georgetown (7 1st place votes) 79 pts.
2. Butler (3) 73
3. Xavier 60
T4. Creighton 54
T4. Providence 54
6. Marquette 37
7. St. John’s 33
8. Villanova 31
9. Seton Hall 20
10. DePaul 9
I’m not going to lie to you: After a 3-11-2 record last season with a 3-5-1 record in league play, I would not have picked Marquette to finish sixth this season. I was expecting to see a bottom three prediction for the Golden Eagles. Instead, the league’s coaches seem to think there’s a clear bottom two in the league, and then spots six, seven, and eight are something of a toss-up. I guess maybe my “bottom three” thought wasn’t that far off when Marquette is only six points away from being in the #8 spot.
Meanwhile, up at the top, there appears to be a bit of discord as to who the top team in the conference is. Toss out the votes from the Georgetown Hoyas and Butler Bulldogs coaches, as they couldn’t vote for their own teams, and that’s six top votes for the Hoyas and two votes for the Bulldogs. It’s not as close as things are over in volleyball where it was five and three, but that’s still a bit of indecisiveness. From there, the next three teams are tightly clumped together in terms of points, right up to both Creighton Bluejays and Providence Friars tying with 54 votes each. This ultimately could lead to a very wild tournament chase, as only the top six teams in the conference qualify for the Big East tournament.
Onwards to the individual awards.
Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Brandon Guhl, Butler, Jr., F
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Brendan McDonough, Georgetown, Sr., D
Preseason Goalkeeper of the Year: Colin Miller, Providence, RS-Sr., GK
Guhl and McDonough were fairly obvious picks, as I explained in my preseason awards article. Colin Miller is something of a surprise, but that’s less than about what Miller has done for the Friars. At the time I had written the article with my picks, St. John’s had not updated their roster and I, admittedly, missed that. Thus, my pick was Andrew Withers. It seems that Withers may have elected to finish his collegiate career after his redshirt junior year last season, as he’s not on the SJU roster, nor any indication of his transfer to another school to finish up his final year of eligibility. Withers led the Big East in both save percentage and goals-against average last season, but Miller is the best guy in both stats that’s back for 2018. Can’t beat that argument and you can’t argue with the fact that he was a unanimous choice. Of course, that does raise the question of how Guhl wasn’t a unanimous choice after finishing with the league lead in points and goals in 2017. Whatcha doin’ there, coaches??
And now, the full preseason All-Big East team.
^ Brandon Guhl, Butler, Jr., F
Derek Dodson, Georgetown, So., F/M
Achara, Georgetown, Jr., F
Danny Griffin, Providence, Jr., M
Simen Hestnes, Xavier, Sr., M
Luka Prpa, Marquette, Jr., M
Joel Rydstrand, Creighton, Sr., M
Jared Timmer, Butler, RS-Jr., M
^ Brendan McDonough, Georgetown, Sr., D
^ Joe Moulden, Butler, Sr., D
Cameron Taylor, Xavier, RS-Sr., D
^ Colin Miller, Providence, RS-Sr., GK
As you can see from the carrots out front, Guhl and McDonough were unanimous choices for this list, which makes you wonder who thought they were in the top three at their position in the league but not the best. Miller was quite obviously the unanimous choice to be the keeper on the 12 man all-league team after winning the individual honor with all nine votes. Those three were joined by Butler’s Joe Moulden as a unanimous choice for the team, but that’s it.
As I explained in my awards article, I had a little bit of trouble identifying candidates for the all-league team. Well, I thought it was trouble, but I still ended up with eight of the 11 correct, and two of my misses can be attributed to the lack of an updated roster from the Red Storm. That’s remarkably impressive work on my part, given that so many seniors left the league following 2017.
Marquette will wrap up the exhibition schedule on Saturday with a visit to Green Bay to face off with the Phoenix, and they’ll start off the regular season on August 26th at home against Valparaiso.
You can read the entire Big East press release on the preseason awards right here.