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

The start of the season inches closer and closer, so let’s focus on what names we need to know.

Luka Prpa
Luka Prpa is one of two Golden Eagles on our preseason all-conference team.
Facebook.com/MarquetteSoccer

We’ve got one more fall sports set of preseason awards to preview. The Big East already beat us to the punch on announcing the volleyball awards, and our picks for women’s soccer can be found right over here if you’re so interested.

Here, we’re going to talk about what to expect for the forthcoming men’s soccer season in the Big East, or at least how the table is going to be set by the league’s preseason awards.

Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Samson Sergei, Xavier

The redshirt senior from Ashburn, Virginia, is the Big East’s returning point leader from 2018, tallying 21 points on nine goals and three assists last season. He was one of just three players in the league to break the 20 point plateau by the end of his team’s campaign as well as average more than a point per match, and he’s the only one of the three returning in 2019.

Georgetown’s Derek Dodson had 19 points a year ago, while Butler’s Brandon Guhl and Marquette’s Luka Prpa both had 18 points. In theory, they could contend for the top spot here when you have 10 people voting, but when you’re making predictions, you go with the top point man and move on.

Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Dylan Nealis, Georgetown

When the 2018 postseason DPOY is returning for the 2019 season, he gets to be the preseason DPOY. This isn’t a complicated process.

Preseason Goalkeeper of the Year: Paul Kruse, Creighton

The Bluejays’ keeper had the best goals-against average in the conference last season as a freshman, and finished third in save percentage. The best save percentage belonged to now-departed Marquette keeper and 2018 GKOTY Luis Barraza and fellow 2018 freshman Giannis Nikopolidis from Georgetown. Kruse was an unanimous choice for the all-freshman team at the end of 2018, so if we’re picking between Kruse and Nikopolidis, then Creighton’s man gets the nod.

Preseason All-Big East Team

Achara, F, Georgetown
Derek Dodson, F, Georgetown
Brandon Guhl, F, Butler
Paul Kruse, GK, Creighton
Tiago Mendonca, M, Providence
Dylan Nealis, D, Georgetown
Luka Prpa, M, Marquette
Ramzi Qawasmy, D, Providence
Patrick Seagrist, D, Marquette
Samson Sergei, F, Xavier
Skage Simonsen, M, St. John’s

This ended up being a little more complicated than I would have preferred. Some of it was obvious, namely Sergei, Nealis, and Kruse, thanks to their individual awards. Starting to fill in around them was simple, as there are five men — Achara, Dodson, Mendonca, Prpa, and Seagrist — returning from last year’s All-Big East First Team. That got me to eight, which is most of the way to the 11 that we need here.

Skage Simonsen is both the only returning midfielder on the Second Team at the end of last year as well as last year’s Big East Freshman of the Year. Boom, sold. There were options at forward on the Second Team..... but Butler’s Brandon Guhl outscored all of them last season and was somehow left out of Big East honors. That was odd, but it’s been rectified here.

That’s 10: Four forwards, three midfielders, a goalie, and two defenders. The last spot has to be a defender for balance here, but there were no good options. All four defenders on the Second Team last year were seniors, as was everyone else named Big East Defensive Player of the Week in 2018 that’s not already on my preseason list. Thus: a guess. Ramzi Qawasmy earned a Weekly Honor Roll nod last year and was named to the Big East All-Freshman Team at the end of the 2018 campaign. That’s the closest I can come to a full justification for any other defenders at this point.

I wonder if the departure of so many senior defenders from last year will lead to a boom in goal scoring during Big East play this season.

Top Five Teams

1 — Georgetown
2 — Creighton
3 — Marquette
4 — Xavier
5 — Providence

With three guys on my preseason all-conference team coming back from a 6-2-1 league play team a year ago, the Hoyas have to go to the top of the chart. The Bluejays won the regular season title a year ago, and while they will have some questions to answer, Kruse should be able to pin them towards the top of the table again.

Things get a little dicey from there. Marquette wasn’t that far from putting three faces on the preseason all-conference team here, as I opted for Guhl over 2018 Second Team honoree Connor Alba. The Golden Eagles might have been under .500 overall last year, but they were much better in Big East play. If they can carry that over while dealing with replacing MLS SuperDraftee Luis Barraza in net, they should be pretty good. Xavier has to be recognized in the group merely on the power of Sergei’s scoring ability, and if I’m going to give the Friars a random guess on an all-league defender, I may as well have them in the top half of the conference.