The Marquette women’s soccer team capped off an impressive 2012 campaign with its first ever victory in the Big East championship game. However, if the Catholic 7 is able to pull out of the Big East by July 1, as Marquette Vice President and Director of Athletics Larry Williams hopes, then the Golden Eagles’ 1-0 win over Georgetown in the conference finals may be the last Big East game the team will ever play.
With an overall record of 18-2-3 and a conference record of 9-0-1, Markus Roeders’ team earned its fourth consecutive Big East American Division title in the fall and ended the season ranked No. 12 in the country. The Golden Eagles also scored more goals in conference play than any other Big East team last season and tied with Georgetown for fewest goals allowed.
In the NCAA tournament, Marquette made it all the way to the third round before falling to No. 1-seeded Brigham Young University in a 0-0 game that was decided by penalty kicks. The team was also one of only three Big East schools to be invited to the national tournament. The other two universities, Georgetown (ranked No. 17 in the country) and Notre Dame (No. 13), made it to the second round and quarterfinals, respectively.
Among the Catholic 7, Georgetown and Marquette clearly have the best women’s soccer programs. Of the other five schools, Villanova, DePaul, Providence, St. John’s and Seton Hall, only Villanova had a winning conference record and none of the teams finished above .500 overall in 2012. Additionally, none of those five schools had a single player voted to the All-Big East First Team, while senior Rachel Brown, junior Maegan Kelly and senior Ally Miller all were recognized for Marquette. In addition to her first team honors, Ally Miller was also named the Most Outstanding Defensive Player of the Big East tournament, and her teammate, junior Taylor Madigan, won Most Outstanding Offensive Player.
It does not seem like Marquette’s women’s soccer team will be tested against any of the other teams that are likely to join the Catholic 7 conference, either. Butler, Virginia Commonwealth, Gonzaga, Xavier, Saint Louis, Dayton and Creighton have all been discussed as likely additions to the conference, but none of those teams even made it to the NCAA tournament. Only Dayton, VCU and Butler had winning records in 2012, finishing second, third and fourth in the Atlantic 10, respectively. The other two possible additions from the A-10, Saint Louis and Xavier, took 12th and 15th, respectively.
Gonzaga went 8-11-1 overall, but posted a mere 1-6-1 record in the West Coast Conference, earning the team an eighth place finish in the conference standings. Creighton had an uncharacteristically bad year in 2012, going 3-13-3 and finishing last in the Missouri Valley Conference after winning the conference championship only two years earlier.
All things considered, the best five suitors for the Catholic 7 conference with only women’s soccer in mind are VCU, Dayton, Butler, Gonzaga and Saint Louis. All 12 teams ranked from best to worst based on their performance last fall are Marquette, Georgetown, Dayton, VCU, Butler, Villanova, DePaul, Providence, Seton Hall, Gonzaga, St. John’s and Saint Louis.