Hello and welcome back to some Big East fall sports previewing!
If you haven’t seen them already, be sure to run over and take a peek at our predictions for the league’s preseason awards for volleyball and women’s soccer. With those already in our rear view mirror, it’s time to wrap up our attempts to predict the fall sports preseason honors with a look at men’s soccer.
Just like we did for women’s soccer, we’ll make predictions for the individual awards of Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year as well as Goalkeeper of the Year. 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 in November
Let’s get straight to it!
Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Lyam MacKinnon, Villanova
These things do not need to be complicated. Last year, MacKinnon finished with the second most points in the Big East on eight goals and six assists and tied for the third most points per game. The guy with the most points in the league, Diego Gutierrez, was a senior at Creighton, so naturally this spot for the preseason in 2022 goes to the guy who finished second.
There is, of course, an argument for the guy that McKinnon tied with in points per game, as Karsen Henderlong, the guy in second place behind Gutierrez on that chart, is no longer at Xavier. Brendan McSorley is on Providence’s roster for this fall, and he finished just one point behind MacKinnon on the total points chart. The catch is that McSorley didn’t even earn All-Big East Third Team honors last year, so how am I supposed to contrast that with his big point totals? If the other coaches didn’t vote for him apparently at all, then how can I possibly give him Preseason OPOY?
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Ramzi Qawasmy, Providence
Again: Don’t overcomplicate this. Qawasmy is the only one of the three All-Big East First Team defenders returning in 2022 for another year of eligibility in the league. Done and done.
Preseason Goalkeeper of the Year: Paul Kruse, Creighton
This is a total blind shot in the dark. Luka Gavran from St. John’s was GK of the Year at the end of last season and the First Team all-conference netminder as well. Carson Williams from Villanova got the nod on the Second Team. Both guys are now gone from their respective teams, as is Giannis Nikopolidis, who earned Third Team honors for his play at Georgetown. By my math, that means this has to go to either Paul Kruse at Creighton or Gandhi Cruz at DePaul, as they are also goalkeepers on that Third Team. Kruse is on his bonus year of eligibility this season, while Cruz is a redshirt sophomore. I’m going to give the older guy the benefit of the doubt here, because I can’t quite shake the whole thing down to make it make sense from a statistical perspective. It could be either one of them, or somebody completely different! Who can say?!
Preseason All-Big East Team
Wilmer Cabrera, Butler, F
Gevork Diarbian, Providence, F
Jake Fuderer, DePaul, D
Luis Garcia, Providence, F
Brandon Knapp, St. John’s, M
Paul Kruse, Creighton, GK
Lyam MacKinnon, Villanova, M
Brendan McSorley, Providence, M
Ramzi Qawasmy, Providence, D
Lukas Sunesson, F, Marquette
Daniel Wu, Georgetown, D
For a moment there, I thought this list was going to get complicated to put together, but then I had a revelation. We’ll get to it.
First, obviously, MacKinnon, Qawasmy, and Kruse all get in easily with their individual trophies. Cabrera and Knapp were both First Teamers at the end of last season, so of course they get to be here. That’s five, so I’m already nearly halfway home to 11 players.
Sunesson and Diarbian are the two returning forwards from the Second Team last season, so they get on the list. Same goes for Fuderer and Wu, just in the defender category. Bang, nine.
I need at least one more midfielder, though. Garcia, a Second Team honoree finished last year tied for eighth in total points with 15, one behind Knapp, and he was the only one of the other three Second Team midfielders in the top 10 for points, so he’s an easy add to give me three midfielders and 10 overall. This is where things got slightly complicated. That 11th spot is always a flex position for me, giving me the option to add a fourth player somewhere amongst the three field positions wherever it’s best deployed to give us the best display of the best returning players. I had the option of Callum Watson from Creighton and Marquette’s Edrey Caceres, both of whom were on the Second Team as midfielders last year, but I had no real way to discern the difference between the two.
You know who doesn’t get quickly added in based on all-Big East honors last season? Providence’s Brendan McSorley, he of the 21 points in 20 games last season, he of the best returning goal total from last season. While the coaches might have left him out of all-league honors, we can’t have a list of “best returning guys” without the literal most prolific returning goal scorer. And that’s 11!
Projected Top Six Teams
Uh, yeah, so I have four Friars on my preseason all-conference team, including the best returning defender in the league and the most prolific returning goal scorer. Mix in a healthy dash of “finished second in the league last year” and a sprinkle of “regular season champ Georgetown lost four First and Second Teamers, including last year’s MAC Hermann award winner, and their starting goalie,” and TA-DA, I’ve got Providence as the favorite to win the league.
Georgetown is Georgetown, losses or not, so I’ll keep them in the #2 spot. The rest of this is a total dart toss. St. John’s finished third last year with 17 points, ahead of a three-way tie for fourth with 16 points. I’m not high on SJU since they lost Gavran in net and they had the best goals against average in the league. I’ll drop them out just to make things interesting, do some shifting around just to make it interesting, bump up Creighton because of Kruse, advantage Villanova because of MacKinnon, and then just homer the heck out of the thing and put Marquette in sixth place after the Golden Eagles missed the Big East tournament by three points a year ago.