GOODS: BIG EAST a men’s soccer force

Redshirt Senior C. Nortey scored the Golden Eagles second goal of the game. (Photo by Ben Erikson /

Jack Goods,

The BIG EAST is a basketball conference. Tough to argue against that. Basketball is what brings in the big bucks; it’s what gets the conference attention and a solid chunk of change from a Fox Sports 1 TV deal. However, the conference has also become one of the best in men’s soccer. Escaping the conference schedule in one piece will be a challenge for Marquette men’s soccer team.

Creighton is currently the top team in the country in both the NSCAA poll and the Top Drawer Soccer ranking. Georgetown rounds out the Top 25 in the last spot, and defeated No. 11 Maryland last night. Xavier and Providence are both receiving votes, with the former notching an impressive victory over then-No. 2 ranked Notre Dame. Seven of the 10 teams in the conference are above .500.

Statistically, BIG EAST squads rank near the top. Creighton has the second best goals against average in Division I. Xavier and Villanova are in the top 10 in goals per game.

The competition is rather star-studded, as the conference has become a breeding ground for professional talent. Three BIG EAST players were taken in the first round of last year’s MLS SuperDraft, including former Marquette defender Axel Sjoberg. Butler midfielder Zach Steinberger was the first selection, going eighth overall to Houston. Eight BIG EAST players in total were selected in the four round draft. Two players from the conference were taken in the top five picks the year prior.

The precedent has been set – if you can be a great player in the BIG EAST, you’re good enough for the pros. Marquette plays a big part of that, as evident by the numerous uniforms from around the world of former Golden Eagles hanging up in the team’s locker room. Marquette’s recruiting class last season was one of the top 15 in the country, competing against teams with more historic success and in warmer climates.

“(It’s) college soccer at some of its highest,” said Marquette head coach Louis Bennett. “We’re always going to be in the top five soccer conferences in the country. At our best, we’re top three… To do that when there’s so many large conferences and schools, that’s a phenomenal thing for the BIG EAST.”

The Golden Eagles begin their conference slate this weekend at St. John’s, one of the teams at the bottom of the table. However, October will be a doozy. Marquette will play the four teams that are ranked or receiving votes back-to-back, starting with an away match against the Hoyas Oct. 14.