We’re back to continue our efforts to predict the preseason awards for Big East fall sports! If you missed our take on volleyball in the league this fall, you can go check it out right here and now.
This time around, we’re going to take a look at women’s soccer. We’ll hand out three individual awards, because that’s what the Big East office does, name an 11 woman all-conference team, and make picks for the six teams that will qualify for the conference tournament in late October.
Let’s get into it!
Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Abigail Isger, Butler, Forward
She led the Big East in total points last season and she’s the top returning player in points per game. Heck, Isger is the only woman coming back for 2023 that averaged more than 0.90 points per match a year ago. She also led the league in goals with eight and is the best returning player in terms of goals per game at just under a goal every other contest.
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Eliza Turner, Georgetown, Defender
Big disclaimer here: Georgetown doesn’t have a roster published right now, so I’m guessing as to who is or is not returning for the Hoyas based on who they honored on Senior Day last season. Is it possible that Julia Leas, the only unanimous pick from last season’s end-of-year All-Big East First Team and the unanimous choice as Defensive Player of the Year, is coming back for a bonus season of eligibility? Sure is, she’s only listed as having played four years on the Hoyas’ website. But since they don’t want to help me, I’m presuming that she’s done since she was involved in Senior Day.
Anyway, Turner is the only returning defender from the First Team last season, so she gets to be the best known returning player this season.... presuming that she’s still enrolled at Georgetown. Again: Still guessing on whether or not any of the Hoyas are still on the team.
Preseason Goalkeeper of the Year: Maria Galley, Xavier
Same disclaimer for this one as the last one: If Georgetown’s Allie Augur is in fact back for 2023, then she deserves to be PGKOTY. She had the award at the end of last season and she was on the First Team as well. But the Hoyas are being “mysterious” about their roster for the time being, so we go to Maria Galley. She was a Second Team honoree a year ago after recording the best full time goalie goals-against average at just 0.77 goals per 90 minutes. Only Augur and Cara Martin, her partner who played in 10 matches last season, had a lower GAA.
All Big East Team
Natalie Bain, Xavier, D
Aliya Diagne, Butler, D
Maria Galley, Xavier, GK
Jessica Garziano, St. John’s, M
Abigail Isger, Butler, F
Lara Kazandjian, Creighton, M
Natalie Means, Georgetown, F
Chioma Okafor, Connecticut, F
Talia Sommer, Butler, M
Eliza Turner, Georgetown, D
Elsi Twombly, Marquette, F
Most of this list was pretty easy to put together, although if we knew for sure whether or not the Georgetown women on the First Team last season were coming back at all for a bonus season of eligibility, that would have drastically changed it AND made it much more complicated.
In any case, Isger, Turner, and Galley get here by way of their individual preseason honors, and Kazandjian gets dropped in right away by joining Isger and Turner as the only known returning players from last year’s First Team. I keep my team to 11 players, matching the team on the field, and I insist on three from each position — forward, midfield, and defense — to make sure everyone gets the recognition they deserve. Rounding out midfield and defense was easy, as there were two returning players in each department on last fall’s end of season Second Team.
That leaves us with questions for forward, where there were four women returning from the Second Team. I put Okafor in after she finished eighth in points per match and third in goals per match last season, not to mention tied for the fourth most total goals in the league last fall. Twombly was my next inclusion, as she squeezed herself into the last spot in the top 10 in points per match last season. That left a decision between Georgetown’s Natalie Means and Providence’s Meg Hughes with neither woman finding their way into a top 10 offensive production category last season. I ended up tilting towards Means just because there were not a lot of Hoyas on the squad after GU won the league last season. Someone’s going to score goals for Georgetown this season, and we can expect them to be good again, so we’ll give Means the edge.
I expect to be wildly wrong about this list just because of the lack of information coming out of Georgetown. There’s going to be multiple players returning even though they were honored on Senior Day, and good for them if that’s what they want. It’s inexcusable that Georgetown is the only team in the league without a roster up, that’s all.
Top Six Teams
1 — Georgetown
2 — Xavier
3 — Butler
4 — Creighton
5 — Connecticut
6 — Marquette
It was a wild year in the standings last season as both Georgetown and Xavier went unbeaten in Big East play. It seems unlikely for that to happen again this year, but I’ll keep those two in their top spots as we project forward.
From there, things were extremely tight in the standings over the next spots in the standings. St. John’s was #3 in the table with a record of 4-2-4, while Villanova was #8, two spots outside the six team conference tournament with a record of 3-5-2. I gave an edge to Butler just because they have Abigail Isger, but really, I don’t know if there’s anything truly separating any of these teams from each other.
Did I put Marquette in at #6 as a purely homer move because I want good things to happen to/for the Golden Eagles this season? Yes, I did, also they were just barely outside the tourney field last year, so maybe they can figure out one more win and get in this year.