Who’s ready for more Big East fall sports preseason chat??
We already ran down some picks for preseason awards for volleyball in the league this year, and now it’s time to move on to women’s soccer! We’re attempting to project how the league’s coaches will vote on these, although I do let my personal preferences as to how they should be voting influence things as needed. The Big East hands out individual awards for Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year as well as Goalkeeper of the Year before the season starts, so we’ll do the same. You’ll also get a look at the best 11 in the league in the form of a preseason all-conference team and a crack at figuring out which six teams will qualify for the conference tournament at the end of October.
Let’s dive in!
Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Katie Soderstrom, Butler
These things do not need to be complicated. Soderstrom had 32 points last season on 12 goals and eight assists, which was second best in the league and is tops amongst returning players. She ranked second in total goals and goals per game, and then tied for fourth in total assists and was third in assists per match. #3 on the points chart last year and thus second amongst returning players was Georgetown’s Gia Vicari, and she finished with just 26 points, a pretty solid way off from Soderstrom’s number.
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Aliya Diagne, Butler
Like I said, these things do not need to be complicated, but sometimes they are. The Big East returns none of the three First Team All-Big East defenders from last season, including DPOY Sydney Cummings. FUN FACT: Cummings wasn’t even a unanimous choice for the all-conference First Team. Neat, huh? Anyway, that sends us over to the Second Team to try and take a swing at who deserves this spot. We have Aliya Diagne from Butler and Avery Snead from Providence as the only two defenders on the Second Team. I have no particular real reason to favor either woman over the other, so I’ll default to seniority and give it to Diagne since she’s a senior this fall.
Watch the coaches figure out a way to give this to someone from Georgetown even though the Hoyas had three players listed as Graduate Students listed as defenders last season.
Preseason Goalkeeper of the Year: Allie Augur, Georgetown
Giving Augur the DPOY nod here in addition to the GK award would just be peak Big East coaches voting, so don’t put it past them. I prefer to separate the two because that’s the point of having two awards. This one tilts back towards “don’t be complicated.” Xavier Musketeer’s Olivia Jenkins was named the best netminder in the league at the end of last season, but she was a senior and her collegiate career is over. And so we turn to the Big East Second Team, and that’s where we get Augur. Believe it or not, the Hoyas’ keeper actually had the best goals against average and best save percentage in the conference last season, but she was not named as the best keeper. I presume this had something to do with the high quality field defenders in front of her since the Hoyas were only allowing 6.6 shots per game. Not shots on goal, shots. In any case, Augur is obviously the best statistical goalie returning for 2022, so this is an easy pick.
Preseason All-Big East Team
Allie Augur, Georgetown, GK
Jaydah Bedoya, Connecticut, F
Aliya Diagne, Butler, D
Meg Hughes, Providence, F
Aida Kardovic, Creighton, M
Julia Leas, Georgetown, M
Molly McLaughlin, Xavier, M
Avery Snead, Providence, D
Katie Soderstrom, Butler, F
Eliza Turner, Georgetown, D
Gia Vicari, Georgetown, F
Soderstrom, Diagne, and Augur are automatic bids here, and you can chalk up Vicari as the next best thing as I mentioned her when talking about Offensive Player of the Year. Snead lost the equivalent of a coin toss for DPOY, so she’s an easy choice here, too. I added Bedoya and Hughes as forwards and all three of the midfielders on this list because each one was an All-Big East First Teamer at the end of the 2021 season. Easy!
That gets us to 10, and I would like to keep this list as balanced as possible between forward, midfield, and defender. That’s an actual team on the field, as opposed to the “we’ll only put one defender on our preseason all-conference team” nonsense that the coaches pulled a year ago. I could just put UConn’s Jada Konte on the list as a forward and call it a day, as she’s the only returning Second Team forward, or I could try to figure out which of the five returning Second Team midfielders to wedge in to make it four forwards, four midfielders, and two defenders.
Instead, I went with the freshman Georgetown defender that was a unanimous pick for the league’s all-freshman team to maintain the balance. Someone has to pick up the slack for the departed Hoya defenders, and as I alluded to before, it would be totally on brand for the coaches to just say “oh, I dunno, a Georgetown player” for this. Thus, I went with Eliza Turner.
Top Six Teams
The Hoyas went undefeated last year alllll the way through to the very last match of the regular season. Their ties ended up costing them the Big East title, but Georgetown’s still returning way too much for me to not install them as the favorite and keep it moving. Butler gets the #2 spot because if you’re getting my awards for the best returning offensive and defensive players, then you should probably be right in line for the top of the table after finishing just a point behind Georgetown in the standings last year.
Xavier goes into the #3 spot because I have questions as to whether they can stand up like they did last year while losing a First Team defender and the best keeper in the Big East.... but also they return First Team midfielder Molly McLaughlin and won the regular season title with only one player on the Second Team. That has to mean something for this season, no matter who they do or do not lose. Providence goes in because they were a playoff team last year and I have two Friars on the all-conference team, including Meg Hughes who finished in a tie for fifth in points last season.
UConn only has one player on my all-conference team, but they return two more Second Team players from last season, including forward Jada Konte who had three game winning goals for a Huskies team that only won nine times total. Let’s go ahead and project them as making it back to the conference tournament. That brings us to our final spot, and considering the fact that St. John’s loses the best scorer in the Big East from last season..... and they only went 6-3-1 in the league with Zsani Kajan’s 17 goals, I’m guessing they drop out of the top six this year. In goes Marquette as the Golden Eagles only missed the conference tournament by a single point last season. I choose to believe in the team taking a step forward in Frank Pelaez’s second full season in charge.