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Unscientific Predictions: 2021 Big East Women’s Soccer Preseason Awards

We wrap up our run through some preseason picks in the Big East for fall sports here.

Big East Basketball Tournament - Quarterfinals Getty Images

We’ve got one final stop on the Big East preseason awards train! We already talked about volleyball — and the league already made their official announcements, too — and men’s soccer already got their picks out in public. We had to wait and wait and wait for a chance to publish the women’s soccer picks because someone [coughlookingatyougeorgetowncough] couldn’t get their act together and put up an official roster until after preseason training actually got underway earlier in the week. That’s out of the way now, though, and so we can go ahead and make the official Anonymous Eagle preseason picks for the Big East.

A note, before we start: I am approaching these as “trying to predict how the Big East coaches will vote.” Sometimes I let my own personal opinions seep in, and sometimes I have to let the stat sheet tell me where to go, but for the most part, the most important thing is how the coaches have voted in the past.

Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Gia Vicari, Georgetown

Quite honestly, I’m not sure why Vicari wasn’t the postseason OPOY in the spring other than the very terrible answer of “she was a sophomore.” She led the Big East in points and points per game, outpacing teammate Jenna Menta by nearly a full point (2.25 to 1.38) per contest in league contests and beating out Butler’s Anja Savich (1.71 to 1.58) in overall play. Menta was the OPOY for whatever reason — maybe the stats were different before the Big East tournament? — but she’s not back this season after going through her senior season in the spring. Vicari is back for her junior year of competition, so she gets the nod here by a pretty strong margin in my eyes.

Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Kelly Ann Livingstone, Georgetown

Never overthink these picks. Livingstone was the winner of the postseason version of this award at the end of the spring season and she’s back for what I presume is a COVID-bonus season since she was a senior in the spring. Not that it matters a whole lot here — I doubt the coaches are changing their opinion on “best defender” that much in three months — but here’s what the league office said about Livingstone winning in the spring:

Livingstone anchors a defense which has surrendered just one goal over 10 matches this season, boasting a team goals against average of 0.108 to rank No. 2 among all Division I programs. Georgetown outscored its East Division foes by a 20-1 margin, outshooting them 133-35, including 58-14 on goal. The Hoyas have nine shutouts on the year.

Preseason Goalkeeper of the Year: Stephanie Rodriguez, Butler

Rule #1: Don’t over think this. I know, sounds familiar, right? In the spring, Connecticut’s Randi Palacios was co-Goalkeeper of the Year at the end of the season and the only goalkeeper on the all-Big East team. She’s not back with the Huskies according to their roster page after using the spring season as her redshirt senior season. Rodriguez was the other co-GKOTY, and TA-DA, she gets the preseason nod here. The 5’6” Batavia, Illinois native allowed just nine goals in 12 matches last season for a goals-against average of 0.74 and a robust save percentage of .830.

All-Big East Team

Daisy Cleverley, M, Georgetown
Aliya Diagne, D, Butler
Jessica Garziano, M, St. John’s
Meg Hughes, F, Providence
Aida Kardovic, M, Creighton
Kelly Ann Livingstone, D, Georgetown
Christina Rodgers, D, Providence
Stephanie Rodriguez, GK, Butler
Anastasia Savich, F, Butler
Katie Soderstrom, F, Butler
Gia Vicari, F, Georgetown

Once Georgetown got their act together and published an official roster, this was pretty easy to assemble. The three returning forwards from last year’s All-Big East First Team — Savich, Soderstrom, and Vicari — are all here, with Vicari getting in even easier because of her OPOY spot. Livingstone and Rodriguez also get spots on their individual awards, and Livingstone was a First Teamer in the spring as well.

I had to make some educated choices from there, but you’ll see the method to the madness. There were five midfielders on the First Team in the spring, but this is an 11 woman team, no chances of ties, hard choices have to be made. Daisy Cleverley was Midfielder of the Year in the spring, so she’s in easily. Jessica Garziano was #4 in points per game, so that’s an easy inclusion. Aida Kardovic was #6 in PPG at 1.12/match, so she gets the third spot. At that point, it became a contest of “do I want four forwards or four midfielders to get to 11 women?” Neither of the two remaining First Team midfielders — Jessica Mazo from Connecticut or Alexis Rothmann from Providence — really bowled me over with stats, and unfortunately, that’s all I have to go with here. PC’s Meg Hughes was #6 in the league in points per game last season at 1.17 across 12 matches of performance, and even though that was only good enough for a Second Team nod at forward, I went in her direction instead. After all, she is the Big East’s returning assists leader from the spring in both total and per game numbers, and that seems worth highlighting.

Filling out the defenders after Livingstone took a little bit more guessing. There were inexplicably only two defenders on the First Team in the spring, and Melina Couzis is no longer at Connecticut. Thus, we go to the second team, where all four defenders are returning. In the interests of not overloading this thing with Hoyas, I went with Diagne and Rodgers. Heck, Rodgers is a senior returning for a bonus year whereas the two Georgetown defenders — Julia Leas and Jenna Royson — are not in their absolutely final year of eligibility. Gotta give seniority a nod when we can here.

Top Five Teams

1 - Georgetown
2 - Butler
3 - Connecticut
4 - Marquette
5 - Providence

I mean, who are we kidding here? Georgetown gets the preseason nod. They were a wrecking crew last season, and sure, they have to replace Jenna Menta and both halves of their keeper tandem. But I’m not in the business of intentionally getting kicked in the head with these picks, so we go with the Hoyas until I have a good reason to go elsewhere. I mean, come on, they took the two field player individual awards up above. Let’s not overthink it.

With that said, Butler went 6-1-0 in league play and 10-2-0 overall in the spring and they have three picks on my preseason all-conference team. I don’t think that’s enough to supercede Georgetown here, but it’s enough to make them the clear #2. From there, I put in the Huskies, who were the clear #2 team in the East Division in the spring behind Georgetown and then Marquette, who lost a tiebreaker and missed the Big East tournament in the Midwest Division. MU went 6-4-0 overall while Creighton went 4-6-0 overall but snagged the tiebreaker over the Golden Eagles. Fair? Homerism? Who can say? Did I put MU in there without a single all-conference honoree? NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. Fifth spot goes to Providence because the Friars were over .500 in league play in the spring, so why not.