The Big East put the results of the preseason poll of the league’s women’s soccer coaches out into the public on Thursday, and quite honestly, the whole thing was a bit of a disappointment for our purposes here. After losing out on a tiebreaker to gain one of the four spots in the conference tournament in the spring and one of two in the Midwest Division, Marquette women’s soccer was picked to finish eighth out of 11 teams in the Big East this season.
MU picked up 43 points in the polling to end up in eighth. That’s just two points behind Xavier at 45 points in seventh place and just four points behind St. John’s at 47 points in sixth place. At least there seems to be a bit of a confusion over who might be the team that’s good enough to snag the sixth and final spot into the Big East tournament at the end of the regular season.
Elsewhere in the poll, Georgetown is the preseason pick to win the league, and the Hoyas picked up all 10 possible first place votes since coaches are not allowed to vote for their own team or their own players when it comes to the individual honors. Butler is #2 at 88 points, 12 behind Georgetown, and Connecticut is a bit further back in third at 74 points. Providence is the beneficiary of GU’s first place vote, but 65 points means that they land in fourth place….. and they’re only one point in front of fifth place Creighton at 64 points. Behind Marquette is DePaul at 41 points, and then Villanova (27 points) and Seton Hall (11 points) rounds out the 11 team league heading into the season.
As we’ll get to when we do some team previewing this week, Marquette does bring back everyone notable from the squad that went 4-4 in Big East divisional play in the spring. If you just look at the Midwest Division teams, the Golden Eagles are slotted in as the fourth best team behind Butler, Creighton, and Xavier. MU and Creighton both went 4-4 in the spring, and only a tiebreaker gave the Bluejays the conference tournament berth. I’m not exactly sure why the coaches think that Marquette is going to suddenly be worse than a Xavier team that went 3-6-0 in the spring and 2-4-0 in league action and MU personally beat 4-1 across two matches..... and yet that’s how the voting went. Just barely, by two points, but that’s how it went.
The disappointment for Marquette and their fans continues along to the individual honors and the preseason All-Big East team. The Golden Eagles did not end up snagging a single one of these spots. Zsani Kajan from St. John’s is the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, while Georgetown’s Kelly Ann Livingstone gets the Defensive version of that. Butler’s Stephanie Rodriguez was named Preseason Goalkeeper of the Year to round out the three individual awards. The all-conference team has 11 women on it, including Kajan, Livingstone, and Rodriguez, but there’s not a single MU player in sight. While it is a disappointment that Marquette does not have anyone noted as one of the best 11 players in the conference, it’s also not a surprise. Those of you who read my preseason picks probably noticed that I did not have any Marquette players in my 11 woman team, either. The facts of the matter are that MU did not have any all-Big East First Team performers in the spring, and so it makes it a little bit hard to wedge your way into the preseason all-league team for the very next season at that point. That goes double in a year when seniors where allowed to return for a bonus season of eligibility when they only have to enroll for one extra semester of college to get it.
I suppose it’s entirely possible that the lack of any valid candidates for the preseason all-conference team is the reason why the Big East coaches aren’t more supportive of the Golden Eagles heading into the year. Again, I would have though that results on the field in the spring would play into that, but then again, it’s been well over a year since half the league’s coaches even saw Marquette play. No cross-division play, after all, and the Golden Eagles didn’t qualify for the conference tournament. Add into that a coaching change since those six in the East Division saw MU in action and a coaching change at DePaul to add more unfamiliarity with the team, and that’s how you end up with an eighth place vote.
Marquette has already wrapped up exhibition play with road contests against Wisconsin and Purdue. The season begins in an official manner this coming Thursday, August 19th, when the Golden Eagles host Western Michigan. First kick on that match is set for 7pm Central and admission to all MU soccer matches this season is free. The Golden Eagles have a Sunday home match against Green Bay as well, which is set to start at 5pm Central.
If you want to check out the entire list of preseason honorees, the league’s press release is available right here.