Let’s do a little catching up, as the Big East released the preseason poll for men’s soccer on Wednesday and we haven’t had a chance to chat about it yet. YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles pop up as newsworthy twice in the poll results, where coaches could not vote for their teams or their players. Louis Bennett’s squad comes in picked to finish seventh in the conference this season, while senior forward Lukas Sunesson is MU’s only representative on the preseason all-Big East team.
Marquette picked up 49 points in the team polling, dropping them 10 points behind Villanova as well as the cut line for the six team conference tournament. They are, however, 11 points ahead of UConn, so it seems like there’s a healthy drop off behind the Golden Eagles to the last four teams in the league.
With that said, it certainly seems like the voting was all over the place this year. Look no further than Providence being installed as the preseason favorite to win the league, edging out Georgetown by just one point, 94-93. However, the Friars snagged just four of the available 10 first place votes. The other six, along with that of PC head coach Craig Stewart, went to the Hoyas. When you drop the votes by both of the GU and PC coaches, two-thirds of the league voted the Hoyas as the favorite…. But apparently the other one-third have Georgetown somewhere else than second place, and thus they end up losing out on the top spot even with the majority of the first place votes. I’m guessing that created all sorts of weirdness in terms of team orders elsewhere, but that doesn’t really show up in the point totals. There’s a 14 point gap between Georgetown and third place St. John’s. Just eight points separate SJU and fourth place Creighton, but it’s not like that’s a tie, either.
For whatever it’s worth, I had Providence picked to win the league this year, so I’m on the side of the minority of the head coaches in the league.
Here’s the full rundown on the voting:
- Providence, 94 points (4 first place votes)
- Georgetown, 93 (7)
- St. John’s, 79
- Creighton, 71
- Butler, 60
- Villanova, 59
- Marquette, 49
- Connecticut, 38
- DePaul, 23
- Seton Hall, 22
- Xavier, 17
Let’s turn to the Marquette press release on the poll for some accolades on Sunesson:
The latest honors add to a growing number of accolades for the striker. He was named to the all-BIG EAST first team in Spring 2021, and to the second team in Fall 2021. Additionally, he has also earned CoSIDA Academic All-America First Team and United Soccer Coaches First Team Scholar All-America recognition in the classroom and was a Second Team All-America and a MAC Hermann Trophy Semifinalist on the pitch in Spring 2021.
The Taby, Sweden native had a strong season that saw him score a team-best six goals along with one assist last fall. He started all 16 matches for the Golden Eagles, totaling 23 shots. He has led the squad’s scoring efforts now in each of the past two seasons. In his four seasons at Marquette, Sunesson has totaled 20 goals and four assists while playing in 65 matches, starting 60. His 44 points are the most among any active Golden Eagle.
I don’t think I’m getting out of pocket to suggest that Marquette’s hopes of betting their preseason placement will come down to Sunesson’s ability to put the ball in the net this season. If he can be productive, that will open things up for guys like Beto Soto and Zyan Andrade to make plays. If not, well, things get more difficult for everyone.
Swinging back to the league’s awards, the individual honors went in a somewhat expected manner. Wilmer Cabrera, Jr., from Butler was named the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, and that’s a reasonable pick based on past performance. He’s not the league’s returning top scorer, either by goals or points or even a per game average in that department, so this seems to be more of a vote by way of reputation than actual performance last year. PC’s Ramzi Qawasmy and Georgetown’s Daniel Wu are sharing the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year honors, which isn’t outrageous if you think of it as “well, we have to vote for a Hoya” for some reason. Qawasmy is the only First Team defender returning, so I thought he was the easy obvious pick, but if you like Wu, someone I had on my preseason all-conference team better, that’s fine. Creighton’s Paul Kruse gets the Goalkeeper of the Year award here in the preseason, and he was my pick while I was picking between two guys on last year’s Third Team and went with the older of the pair. Fair, not fair, all that matters is that someone got it and the postseason award will be decided on the field.
11 men were named to the preseason all-conference team, so it appears we don’t have to worry about ties in the voting. Three of them — Cabrera, Qawasmy, and Wu, as luck would have it — were unanimous choices. Nine of them match my picks, so that’s a pretty good job by me. The coaches went with UConn’s Mateo Leveque and Creighton’s Charles Auguste in the midfield over my picks of Brendan McSorley from Providence and DePaul defender Jake Fuderer. The coaches shifted Brandon Knapp from St. John’s from midfield to defense to keep their lineup properly balanced, but that’s not the wildest part about this. Brendan McSorley tied with Villanova’s Liam MacKinnon in points per game last fall and yet he can’t get on this year’s preseason all-league team? What am I missing here, other than the fact that McSorley didn’t even get Third Team honors last fall? This is all very weird, yes?
Here’s the full preseason all-Big East team.
Wilmer Cabrera Jr., Butler, Sr., F ^
Lukas Sunesson, Marquette, Sr., F
Gevork Diarbian, Providence, Jr., F
Lyam MacKinnon, Villanova, Sr., F
Mateo Leveque, UConn, So., M
Charles Auguste, Creighton, Sr., M
Luis Garcia, Providence, Sr., M
Daniel Wu, Georgetown, Sr., D ^
Ramzi Qawasmy, Providence, Gr., D ^
Brandon Knapp, St. John’s, Gr., D
Paul Kruse, Creighton, Gr., GK
You can read the league’s press release on the awards right here.