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2018 Big East Women’s Soccer: Where Are We Now?

League play starts this weekend, so let’s figure out what everyone has been up to so far this season.

2013 Crossroads Classic
Marquette plays Butler first, so we’ll put Blue in the picture slot here.
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Marquette women’s soccer starts off Big East action on Sunday afternoon, so that means it’s time to take a swing around the league and see what everyone has been up to since the middle of August!

For this edition of Where Are We Now, we’ll be taking advantage of the NCAA publishing the first edition of the Team Sheets that the tournament selection committee will be using. It gives us the most up-to-date RPI numbers for every team, not to mention a clearly spelled out marker on best wins and worst losses, so it’s super helpful. There is one catch, namely that the NCAA released the Team Sheets on September 17th, and there have been three games played in the Big East since then. I’ve double checked the best wins where needed for that, so those are accurate, but the RPIs may not be. It is what it is.

Each section starts off with the team’s record and their RPI as of Monday morning. We transition from there into the stat leaders for each team, both for offense and to let you know what’s going on with their goalkeeping situation. From there, we wrap up with each team’s best win and worst loss so far this season as determined by the RPI and the Team Sheet. We wrap up with.... something.... about each team that we’re talking about.

Oh! Also, this is going to qualify as the preview for Sunday’s contest, as I’m not going to essentially write the same article twice, so here’s the details for that one:

Big East Match #1: vs Butler Bulldogs (6-3-0)

Date: Sunday, September 23, 2018
Time: 1pm Central
Location: Valley Fields
Special Promotion: Kids Club VIP Day, including a photo booth with the Eagle and facepainting, plus families of Kids Club members get in for $2.
Video Streaming: Big East Digital Network on Fox Sports Go
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWSOC
All-Time Series: 3-3-1, with the two teams alternating wins and losses since The Reformation.

Onwards!

Butler Bulldogs (6-3-0, #46)

Points Leader: Paige Monaghan & Anja Savich, 9
Goals Leader: Anja Savich, 4
Assists Leader: Paige Monaghan, 5
Primary Keeper: Hannah Luedtke; 0.67 GAA, .786 SV%
Best Win: at #74 Dayton, 1-0
Worst Loss: at #25 Baylor, 2-0

I suppose we should address Butler’s goalkeeping whole **gestures broadly**. As was annoyingly the case last year, Hannah Luedtke and Leonie Doege are splitting time in net. As was not the case last year, things are not going perfectly well. Last year, the pair both finished with goals-against averages under 0.40 as the Bulldogs went 13-2-6 and went to the NCAA tournament.

This year... wellllll, this year, Luedtke is still pretty great, as you can see. Doege, on the other hand... well, she got firebombed with five goals in under 29 minutes against TCU in BU’s final non-conference game and her stats are a mess now. She was fine through her first eight appearances of the season, but a 1-0 Horned Frogs lead at the half when she came in became 6-0 in the 73rd minute. Like I said, Doege was fine up til then, holding together a goals-against average of 0.75 on the season. That match was last Sunday afternoon, so we’ll have to wait and see if head coaches Tari St. John and Rob Alman go with their usual Luedtke/Doege rotation going forward.

It’s worth noting that the loss to TCU cost Butler a national ranking, as they were #23 in the country last week in the United Soccer Coaches poll.

The sudden explosion of freshman Anja Savich give Butler a very potent offensive kick, but you have to wonder if the Michigan native will end up affecting Paige Monaghan’s quest for the league’s Offensive Player of the Year trophy at the end of the season. Monaghan was the preseason OPOY, but at least at this point of the season, she’s barely in the league’s top 10 for points.

Creighton Bluejays (3-5-0, #164)

Points Leader: Aline Reinkober, 4
Goals Leader: Aline Reinkober, 2
Assists Leader: Ansley Atkinson, 2
Primary Keeper: Katie Sullivan; 1.74 GAA, .714 SV%
Best Win: vs #196 South Dakota, 2-1
Worst Loss: at #204 Eastern Michigan, 2-1

As you can see from those low point totals and save percentage and high goals-against average, things aren’t going particularly great for the Jays in 2018. To make things worse, their schedule hasn’t exactly been a Murderer’s Row. Outside of Oklahoma State (#18), everyone else has been outside the top 100, and they squeaked through two wins against two of the three sub-200 opponents that they’ve played.

I suppose that Ross Paule and staff can take a little bit of solace in the fact that they’re nowhere near the bottom of the Big East in terms of RPI at this point of the season. Creighton was picked to finish 9th by the league’s coaches in the preseason poll, and by my count, there’s four teams worse off than the Jays. On top of that, their three leaders — Reinkober, Atkinson, and Sullivan — are all in their first year of eligibility, with Sullivan currently working on her redshirt freshman season. Perhaps this all pays off down the road.

DePaul Blue Demons (4-3-2, #76)

Points Leader: Morgan Turner, 11
Goals Leader: Morgan Turner, 5
Assists Leader: Avery Hay, 3
Primary Keeper: Mollie Eriksson; 0.78 GAA, .788 SV%
Best Win: vs #34 Illinois, 3-1
Worst Loss: at #106 Milwaukee, 2-1

FUN FACT: DePaul’s stat sheet does not include their September 13th road trip to Bowling Green, so I had to rely on the Big East’s website for Eriksson’s stats. Thanks, DePaul! If it was missing the most recent game, I’d say, “well, it’s a minor technical error where the newest PDF isn’t properly being linked.” NOPE, their 1-0 loss to Alabama is absolutely on the stat sheet. NEAT.

DePaul is doing a heck of a job splitting their season straight down the middle. One win, one loss in both Category 2 and Category 3 on their Team Sheet. That’s solid, but it’s also not knocking them dead. They also don’t have any Category 1 games at all, which may end up hurting them as tournament selection time approaches.

It looks like DePaul has a pair of fantastic goal scorers in Morgan Turner and Franny Cerny, who have five and four tallies respectively. However, they threw in three and two of those goals respectively in DePaul’s 7-0 blanking of UMass-Lowell, the worst team that they’ve played this season. On top of that, Avery Hay recorded two of her three assists on the season in that match. That’s 7 of their 15 goals and five of their 11 assists all in one 90 minute stretch. In other words: Maybe their offense has a little bit of a struggle in it.

Georgetown Hoyas (7-0-2, #5)

United Soccer Coaches Ranking: #10
Points Leader: Kyra Carusa, 12
Goals Leader: Kyra Carusa & Caitlin Farrell, 5
Assists Leader: Paula Germino-Watnick & Carson Nizialek, 3
Primary Keeper: Arielle Schechtman; 0.27 GAA, .939 SV%
Best Win: at #30 Princeton, 2-1

For the first time in eight seasons, we get to talk about Georgetown soccer without having to discuss one of the Corboz sisters. And yet, somehow, it’s still business as usual for the Hoyas. They’re unbeaten through nine contests with seven victories and four shutouts. Only one of their nine matches came against a sub-100 opponent, so they’re clearly deserving of their #5 RPI.

They can clearly win a match on either end of the field. They’re averaging the most shots taken in the league at 16 even and allowing fewer than 10 per game. They’re allowing less than a goal every other match and scoring nearly two a game. They can put it in the net with reckless abandon and squeeze you to death on defense. Pick a way to go, because the Hoyas are coming for you, one way or another.

Marquette Golden Eagles (2-6-1, #179)

Points Leader: Carrie Madden, 4
Goals Leader: Carrie Madden, 2
Assists Leader: Three players with 2
Primary Keeper: Maddy Henry; 1.86 GAA, .750 SV%
Best Win: vs #106 Milwaukee, 1-0
Worst Loss: at #67 Michigan, 3-2

Okay, so yes, this has clearly been the worst non-conference performance by Marquette under head coach Markus Roeders and it’s veering pretty quickly towards the worst season-long performance by one of his teams as well.

Or is it?

Cards on the table: Marquette has losses against six teams this season, but all are in the top 70 of the RPI. Sure, this means MU almost assuredly isn’t making the NCAA tournament as an at-large team, buuuuuuuuuut it also means that Marquette ended up with a very difficult non-conference schedule and it just didn’t turn into wins for whatever reason. Sometimes you get the bear, sometimes the bear gets you, I suppose.

Providence Friars (6-2-1, #41)

Points Leader: Hannah McNulty, 14
Goals Leader: Hannah McNulty, 6
Assists Leader: Four players with 2
Primary Keeper: Shelby Hogan; 0.65 GAA, .885 SV%
Best Win: vs #56 Drexel, 2-1
Worst Loss: at #20 Duke, 2-1

.... Is Providence good? This is a question I was wondering ever since they went late into a match with North Carolina in a scoreless deadlock. Now, the Friars ended up taking a 1-0 loss there, and they fell 2-1 to Duke as part of the same event in North Carolina that Marquette was in, but that’s it as far as losses on the season go. Yeah, they have four sub-150 wins, but they also shut out three of those teams, too.

Sophomore Hannah McNulty is picking up right where she left off as the point leader on last year’s squad. She’s already surpassed her goals total by doubling it up in PC’s first eight matches of the season, and she’s one away from tying her assists total from last year, too. All told, she’s accounted for eight of Providence’s 14 goals in 2018, and that makes her a dangerous threat at all times.

The defense is much improved as well, or at least it looks that way so far. Shelby Hogan is having a great sophomore season as well, and if she can keep her goals-against average below 1.00 as league play gets started, then PC’s going to be looking pretty good when the postseason rolls around.

St. John’s Red Storm (4-5-0, #190)

Points Leader: Zsani Kajan, 16
Goals Leader: Zsani Kajan, 7
Assists Leader: Sami Scaffidi, 4
Primary Keeper: Meredith Reinhardt; 1.68 GAA, .730 SV%
Best Win: vs #173 Stony Brook, 5-1
Worst Loss: at #223 Syracuse, 1-0

We have to tip our caps when necessary, and it’s necessary for Zsani Kajan. The redshirt sophomore from Hungary has exploded after just two goals in 17 appearances last year and currently leads the Big East in both points and goals. Bravo, and so forth.

We do, however, have to point out that three of Kajan’s goals came in SJU’s 5-1 shelling of Stony Brook. In addition to that, while St. John’s is getting outscored 16-15 on the season even with Kajan’s ability to put 20% of her shots in the net, six of the goals against all came in one match as they lost to Long Beach State, 6-0. That was just one of their four losses in four tries against top 100 squads, but that’s not why they’re drifting down towards the 200 mark in the RPI. That has more to do with their 1-0 road loss to Syracuse.

So, you have a team that’s scoring just as much as they give up, and they’re prone to weird off-day losses where they lose on a 27th minute penalty kick while only surrendering three other shots on the day. Good luck trying to figure out what’s going on with St. John’s, y’all.

Seton Hall Pirates (2-3-4, #189)

Points Leader: Siobhan McGovern, 4
Goals Leader: Siobhan McGovern, 2
Assists Leader: Lizzy Kirk, 1
Primary Keeper: Anna MacLean; 0.61 GAA, .882 SV%
Best Win: at #165 Quinnipiac, 1-0
Worst Loss: vs #173 Stony Brook, 1-0

Think about this for a moment: Anna MacLean is giving up close to only a goal every other match and Seton Hall has just two wins on the season. Last Wednesday’s trip to LIU-Brooklyn was the most exciting match of the season for the Pirates, as both they and the Blackbirds tallied two goals in a draw. There’s a lot of 1-0 results decorating their schedule to this point of the season.

In any case, Seton Hall wasn’t really trying to challenge themselves this season with five sub-150 teams on the ol’ non-conference schedule. They got positive results from those matches with a record of 2-1-2, but things are going to dramatically ramp up in difficulty starting immediately, and things are probably not going to go well for them. There is a reason why they got eight last place votes and one second to last place vote in the preseason poll.vill

Villanova Wildcats (6-3-0, #73)

Points Leader: Chloe O’Neill & Bri Austin, 9
Goals Leader: Bri Austin, 4
Assists Leader: Chloe O’Neill & Niki Molina, 3
Primary Keeper: Rebecca Gartner; 1.13 GAA, .778 SV%
Best Win: at #59 LSU, 2-1
Worst Loss: at #182 Lafayette, 1-0

We have to talk about Villanova’s goalkeeping situation first. Freshman Hensley Hancuff had started every match of the season up through VU’s contest with Brown, and she had played every minute of every match as well. However, head coach Chris McLain made the switch to Rebecca Gartner at halftime against Brown, and Gartner has played every minute since. There’s no mention of the switch in the recap of the Brown match, no mention of Hancuff’s status in this press release about being named Freshman of the Week following the Brown match, and nothing about her status in the preview of their next match. Gartner is a redshirt senior and when she started and finished the Virginia Tech match, it was her first full 90 minute appearance for the Wildcats. I presume that she’ll be the netminder going forward, given the evidence, but it’s hard to say one way or the other.

Regardless of whatever’s going on there, Villanova’s still in pretty strong position as non-con play wraps up. They picked up two top 100 wins already in LSU and St. Joseph’s, and both of those were on the road. Both Austin and O’Neill are in the conversation, at least for now, for the best goal scorer in the league this year. That’s a good 1-2 punch to have, but it’s going to have to pay off when they see top 100 opponents regularly in league play. Villanova got shutout twice against similar competition already this year, and that could be the difference between hosting a quarterfinal game and going on the road instead.

Xavier Musketeers (6-4-0, #85)

Points Leader: Samantha Dewey, 10
Goals Leader: Samantha Dewey, 4
Assists Leader: Samantha Dewey & Sydney Schembri, 2
Primary Keeper: Toni Bizzarro; 0.84 GAA, .851 SV%
Best Win: at #74 Dayton, 2-0
Worst Loss: at #81 Northern Kentucky, 1-0

I’m not entirely sure why Toni Bizzarro didn’t play against Tennessee and Southern Indiana this season. More specifically, I don’t know why she didn’t play against the #13 Vols. USI isn’t a D1 program, so I get that decision. Why send a freshman out against a top 15 opponent for her very first collegiate action?

I should also point out that for whatever reason, the NCAA’s RPI doesn’t factor in Xavier’s 2-0 win over Miami (OH) on Sunday. It was within the cutoff, so I’m not sure why it’s not in there. In any case, it’s a home win over a top 200 team, so at worst, it dips XU down to #87 or something just based on strength of schedule. No big deal.

Circling back to Bizzarro for a moment, she hasn’t allowed a goal since Xavier lost 3-0 to West Virginia on August 30th. It’s been four straight shutouts for her, so she’s up over 370 straight minutes without allowing a goal right now. There’s a solid chance that the Musketeers blank Creighton to start off league play, but with Providence and Villanova still to go, the chances of Bizzarro getting out of September without allowing a goal is pretty slim.

I point this out because Xavier’s margins aren’t exactly wide. If you toss out that Southern Indiana contest, XU’s only outshooting their opponents by two shots this season. The Tennessee game wasn’t that big of a differential at 17-6, so it’s not like that’s tilting things over on them.