The first regular season of the “new” Big East was competitive and didn’t disappoint. All three newcomers (Xavier, Creighton, Butler) earned a spot into conference postseason play while the likes of nine-time tournament champs, St. Johns barely missed out. The competitive nine game conference schedule came down to the wire as the seedings weren’t official until the last day. Six lucky teams were awarded the spots into the tournament hoping to reach the final, November 17th at PPL Park.
#1 Seed (Georgetown): The Hoyas came into the season as favorites and fulfilled their duties, becoming regular season co-champions, their fourth conference title in school history. Led by the dynamic duo of senior Steve Neumann (10g, 6a) and sophomore Brandon Allen (11g, 3a), Georgetown has the most lethal forward combination in the NCAA. The backline led by athletic center backs Cole Seiler and Joshua Yaro, has helped junior goalkeeper Tomas Gomez record a conference best 11 shutouts in 18 games. Brian Wiese’s squad looks to have peaked at the right time winning four of their last five matches and will definitely be the favorites entering the tournament. The talented squad looks poised to reach their second consecutive Big East Final.
- The Hoyas will face the winner of the Providence vs Creighton matchup on Friday, November 15 at 6 p.m. at PPL Park.
#2 Seed (Marquette): The Golden Eagles are regular season co-champions after a 6-2-1 conference record, their second in three years. Marquette’s potent attack is led by RS sophomore C. Nortey (9g, 2a), possibly the most dangerous on ball player in the conference. Freshman sensation and coach’s son Louis Bennett II (4g, 3a) has been an influential force in the midfield, filling the role of injured senior captain Brian Ciesiulka. Towering sophomore center back Axel Sjoberg (2g, 2a) has been a stellar defender guiding the back line to 8 shutouts, including 5 against conference opponents. Head coach Louis Bennett will hope his relatively young squad will be able to keep form and make it past the semi final, a feat they have been unable to do under the direction of coach Bennett.
- The Golden Eagles will face the winner of the Xavier vs Butler matchup on Friday, November 15 at 7:30 p.m. at PPL Park .
#3 Seed (Xavier): The Musketeers entered the Big East tournament in emphatic fashion going 6-3 and being one win off of a number one overall seed. The Walker brothers, Matt and Will have provided over 50% of the offensive production for the squad, while senior defender Nick Hagglund (0g, 3a) has carried the defensive responsibilities. Xavier will get a rematch against Butler, this time at home on Tuesday November 12, looking to avenge their regular season loss to the Bulldogs. The team has won six of their last seven games and will look to carry their momentum into their first Big East postseason appearance.
#4 Seed (Providence): The Friars had a phenomenal season finishing fourth in the Big East after being predicting to finish seventh in the annual coaches poll. Providence ended the year coming out on top in two must win games, one against Creighton, their first round opponent. The cohesive midfield is led by senior Anthony Baumann (4g, 2a) and freshman Julian Gressel (4g, 4a) who have both performed well thus far for the Friars. Providence has gritted out almost all their results this year having eight of the eleven wins come by one goal. The Friars are a tough matchup for any team in their way and could sneak their way into the conference final for the first time since 2010. Providence will host the Bluejays on Tuesday, November 12.
#5 Seed (Creighton): The Bluejays endured a very up and down season, including a top 5 ranking in the country, and as low as only winning one game in a seven game span. Creighton has a wealth of talent and great coaching, but things haven’t clicked at certain points of the season. The two year running College Cup contestants are still a force to be reckoned with and shouldn’t be taken lightly by anyone. The team is led by preseason All Big East members, sophomore Timo Pitter (7g, 4a) and defender Eric Miller (3g, 1a). Coach Bolowich knows how to lead his teams in postseason play and if the Bluejays find their form, nobody will want to face them.
#6 Seed (Butler): The Bulldogs overachieved this year, surprising their fellow conference foes by sneaking into the tournament. Coming into the season, Butler was projected to finish eighth in the conference, but the newcomers out did themselves. The team was on a four game losing streak, before beating Xavier, on the last day to get into the tournament. The squad led by freshman forward David Goldsmith (11g, 2a) and junior Zach Steinberger (6g, 4a) will look to beat Xavier for a consecutive time and make the conference semis in their first year, an impressive accomplishment.
Ben Roth is a contributing writer for College Soccer News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org