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Unscientific Predictions: 2019 Big East Women’s Soccer Preseason Awards

Who are the names to know in the league this coming season?

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 02 Seton Hall at Georgetown
The Hoyas lost one game all of last season: In the NCAA tournament Final Four. They’ll probably win a lot more games this year.
Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Hello.

You’re reading this (at the earliest) on August 3rd. The women’s college soccer season starts on August 22nd. There are LESS THAN TWENTY DAYS until soccer is downloaded into your brain by way of your eyeholes.

So, we should probably do something about previewing all of that.

First up: Trying to figure out how the Big East coaches will vote for the various and sundry preseason awards and honors. That starts.....

wait for it

now

Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Zsani Kajan, St. John’s

Okay, I had to puzzle through this one for a minute. There were two players in the league last season who totaled 30 or more points, but both were seniors. The next best point total in the league belonged to Xavier‘s Samantha Dewey, who is back for 2019. However, Dewey stacked up nine goals and seven assists in 21 games, while Kajan put up 11 goals and two assists in 19 games. In addition to that, Providence‘s Hannah McNulty had 10 goals and four assists in 20 games. It’s a subtle difference, I’ll admit, but Kajan has a teensy bit higher points per game mark than Dewey or McNulty, so we’ll go with the better per game performance here.

Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Meaghan Nally, Georgetown

Last year’s preseason and postseason Defensive Player of the Year is this year’s preseason DPOY. Sometimes you don’t have to think very hard about these things.

Preseason Goalkeeper of the Year: Shelby Hogan, Providence

Item the first: Hogan was the Second Team All-Big East keeper at the end of last season, with the First Teamer, Georgetown’s Arielle Schechtman, finishing her eligibility last year.

Item the second: Hogan was second in the conference in save percentage to only Schechtman.

Item the third: Hogan was second in the conference in total saves behind only Marquette’s Maddy Henry. Generally speaking, as you can see from what happened to Marquette last season, you don’t want your keeper making a bajillion saves. That means that there were a bajillion and a half shots, which is generally bad. However, Hogan had that sparkling save percentage, so tip of the cap and this preseason honor to her.

Preseason All-Big East Team

Samantha Dewey, M, Xavier
Paula Germino-Watnick, F/M, Georgetown
Shelby Hogan, GK, Providence
Taryn Jakubowski, M, Creighton
Zsani Kajan, F, St. John’s
Hannah McNulty, F, Providence
Meaghan Nally, D, Georgetown
Grace Nguyen, M, Georgetown
Anja Savich, F, Butler
Annika Schmidt, D, Butler
Adrian Walker, D, DePaul

11 players on the field, 11 women on my preseason all-league team. Keeper, three forwards, four midfielders, and three defenders. This was relatively easy to put together given the composition of the all-Big East teams at the end of last season. Every woman here was either a First Teamer or Second Teamer.

The only questions came in the midfield and defender departments. There was one midfielder and two defenders from the Second Team at the end of last season that had to be left out here. Marquette’s Katrina Wetherell lost out to Georgetown’s Grace Nguyen by way of “Georgetown was and should still be very good and Marquette was/might be not good.” A simple distinction, I think.

In the defender grouping, I went with DePaul’s Adrian Walker over Villanova’s Kristin Barbour and Xavier’s Grace Bahr. When it comes to defense, it’s hard to figure out individual impact on a team, or at least harder than it is when it comes to measuring offensive output. Here’s what I went with: DePaul had a team goals-against average under 0.90 last year while Xavier was just barely under 1.00 and Villanova was up over 1.25. In addition to that, DePaul was second to last in the conference in saves. This means that shots weren’t even getting to their keeper, and that means plays were being made by their field defenders. Walker was the only Blue Demon defender honored at the end of the 2018 campaign, and so she gets my nod here.

Top Five Teams

1 — Georgetown
2 — Providence
3 — Butler
4 — Xavier
5 — St. John’s

Just go ahead and hang a sign on Dave Nolan and his team that says “Pick Against Us At Your Own Peril.” Sure, the Hoyas are losing two 30 point scorers. It doesn’t mean they’re not the favorite to win the league this season, it just means they’re probably not contenders to go to the Final Four of the NCAA tournament. Oh well.

Past that, this got interesting fast. There was only five points separating second place Butler last year and sixth place DePaul thanks to a three-way tie for fourth place in the league last year. Butler lost an NWSL draft pick caliber midfielder in Paige Monaghan and both of their goalies that split time last year. St. John’s has Kajan returning up top, but her three biggest support pieces last season were all seniors. Shelby Hogan bailed Providence’s defense out a ton last year to finish fourth, and that was with All-Big East First Team honoree Katie Day, who is now a grad assistant on the roster. PC was the first of the three teams in the tie at 14 points, with Xavier and DePaul joining them at a 4-3-2 record in league play. In short, all three have question marks between what they return and what they lost from last year.

I’m just throwing darts when trying to figure out who goes where, and I’m barely even considering someone from the bottom four last year jumping up into the top half this season. It’s entirely possible, given the confusion level that I’m encountering trying to sort it out here.