BIG EAST Announces Men's Soccer Preseason Picks
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Connecticut and St. John's have been picked to capture the 2005 BIG EAST men's soccer regular season divisional titles as voted by the league's head coaches, who were not permitted to vote for their own teams. The Huskies were selected to finish the regular season atop the Blue Division, while the Red Storm were chosen to garner the Red Division championship. Connecticut and St. John's have been selected to win the regular season championship in all but one season dating back to at least the 1993 season.
Connecticut, which captured last year's BIG EAST Championship crown, earned nine first place votes in this year's preseason poll. Connecticut placed two players on the preseason team, sophomore defender Julius James and senior midfielder Mpho Moloi. Both were named to the All-BIG EAST Second Team a year ago. They were the mainstays to a defensive minded team that allowed only 0.83 goals per game, including eight shutouts. UConn ended the 2004 campaign with a record of 12-8-3 overall, 5-4-1 in the conference, having advanced to the second round of the NCAA Championship.
Notre Dame was selected second in the Blue Division preseason poll, amassing seven first place votes. The Fighting Irish captured their first BIG EAST regular season title in 2004, and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Championship, completing the season with a record of 13-3-3 overall, 8-1-1 in the league. Named to the preseason all-conference team as a unanimous pick, junior Greg Dalby is fresh off captaining the U.S. U-20 team at the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championships. Classmate Ian Etherington, also named to the preseason team, returns after dishing out a team-leading five assists a year ago.
St. John's, a unanimous pick to capture the 2005 Red Division title with 15 first place votes, advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Championship. The Red Storm ended the season No. 13 in the nation with a record of 12-6-4 overall, 6-1-3 in league play. Graduate student Matt Groenwald returns to the midfield and looks to aid senior forward Andre Schmid in the offensive output as they were both selected to the preseason all-conference team. Groenwald was a 2004 finalist for the Hermann Trophy and was named Academic All-America of the Year. Schmid was second on the team in scoring last season, recording five goals and a team-high eight assists.
Seton Hall senior Boris Pardo was named the BIG EAST Preseason Goalkeeper of the Year, while teammate junior forward Sacha Kljestan earned Preseason Co-Offensive Player of the Year honor. Pairing with Kljestan is Georgetown junior forward Ricky Schramm for the co-honor, while Schramm's teammate senior Jeff Curtin was voted as the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.
The Pirates' duo has helped the team place third in the Blue Division preseason poll with 91 points, after finishing with a record of 12-7-3 overall, 5-5-0 in the BIG EAST last year. SHU advanced to the championship game of the BIG EAST Tournament and earned a bid into the NCAA Championship last season.
Georgetown follows in fourth place with 73 points. GU completed the 2004 season with a record of 11-8-2 overall, 5-4-1 in league play having advanced to the BIG EAST Championship semifinal. Schramm was the 2004 BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year leading the league in goals (7) and points (17). An All-BIG EAST Second Team selection, Curtin scored five goals and added one assist from his backfield position.
Junior midfielder Nick LaBrocca and Rutgers placed second to St. John's in the Red Division preseason standings. The Scarlet Knights earned 95 points in the poll and look to improve on last season's finish of 11th place. A 2004 All-BIG EAST Second Team member, LaBrocca is poised to be an offensive threat this season.
Earning the remaining first place vote in the preseason poll is USF, a new addition to the BIG EAST this season. The Bulls were selected third in the Red Division poll, collecting 90 points. USF finished with a record of 10-5-2 overall, 5-3-1 in Conference USA behind the play of C-USA Co-Freshmen of the Year forward Rodrigo Hildalgo. Named to the Preseason All-BIG EAST Team, Hildalgo led the Bulls in scoring, notching six goals
Also picked to the preseason all-conference team is Pittsburgh senior forward Keeyan Young. A member of the 2004 All-BIG EAST Second Team, Young scored seven goals and added four assists for 18 points last season.
BIG EAST play begins on September 12 when all 16 schools will compete against conference opponents. Five schools will be playing in the BIG EAST for the first time this season. USF, along with Cincinnati, DePaul, Louisville and Marquette help combine to make the BIG EAST the largest Division I men's soccer conference in the nation. A round robin rotational 11-game schedule within two divisions of eight makeup
The 2005 BIG EAST Men's Soccer Championship will feature the top 12 of the league's 16 teams. The top six teams in each division, seeded by conference point total, qualify for the Conference Championship. The top two teams in each division earn a first-round bye to the quarterfinals. The first round and quarterfinal games will be held on the campus of the higher seeded team. First-round games will be held on Nov. 2-3, with the quarterfinals following on Nov. 5-6. The University of Connecticut will serve as host for the semifinals (Nov. 11) and the championship game (Nov. 13). Selection and seeding are based on regular season conference records.
Preseason Offensive Co-Players of the Year
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year
Preseason Goalkeeper of the Year
Preseason All-BIG EAST Team