The 2011 BIG EAST men's soccer season will open on Friday, August 26 as seven of the 16 teams are in action. Nine more games featuring BIG EAST teams will be played on Saturday.
Louisville headlined the NSCAA Preseason National Poll in the top spot after posting a 20-1-3 record in 2010. The 2010 National Runner-Up Cardinals were unanimously selected to finish first in the BIG EAST Red Division, led by Preseason Defensive Player of the Year Austin Berry, Preseason Goalkeeper of the Year Andre Boudreaux and Preseason Co-Offensive Player of the Year Colin Rolfe. Louisville is one of three teams ranked in the NSCAA top-20, as Connecticut is ranked eighth and Notre Dame is 12th. The Huskies, led by Preseason Co-Offensive Player of the Year Tony Cascio, were selected to win the BIG EAST Blue Division in the 2011 Preseason Poll. Notre Dame was picked to finish second in the Blue Division, with defender Aaron Maund and midfielder Dillon Powers each earning a spot on the Preseason All-BIG EAST Team. There were also three BIG EAST teams receiving votes: West Virginia, Providence and Georgetown. At the conclusion of the 2010 season, four BIG EAST teams were ranked in the top 20 of both the NSCAA and Soccer America polls.
In the first three days of the season, BIG EAST teams will match up against five NSCAA preseason ranked opponents. On Friday, West Virginia will play at No. 22 Virginia in Germantown, Md. at 5:00 p.m. and St. John's will play No. 4 Maryland at 8:00 p.m. On Saturday, No. 6 UCLA will play at Louisville at 7:00 p.m. and No. 17 Indiana will play at Notre Dame at 7:30 p.m. On Monday, West Virginia will play its second ranked team in as many games with a tilt at No. 4 Maryland at 7:00 p.m.
A Look Back
The league teams will be looking to build off of the strong momentum created in the 2010 season, a year that culminated with seven BIG EAST teams competing in the 2010 NCAA Championship. Louisville, which earned the top seeding in the tournament, made a run to the title game, remaining undefeated until suffering a 1-0 defeat to Akron in the final.
Six of seven teams hosted their first game of the NCAA Championship and three teams earned byes through the first round. In the last six years, the BIG EAST has averaged six teams in the NCAA Championship. In a 48-team tournament, that number accounts for one-eighth of the entire field.
In the final 2010 rankings provided by NCAAA.org, nine of the league's 16 teams were ranked in the top-56 of the NCAA RPI (Louisville, 2; Notre Dame, 13; Georgetown, 16; Providence, 19; Connecticut, 20; West Virginia, 27; USF, 43; Cincinnati, 48; St. John's, 56).
Three of the four BIG EAST student-athletes named as NSCAA All-Americans return to the league this season: Tony Cascio, from Connecticut, along with Colin Rolfe and Austin Berry from Louisville. Connecticut's Josh Ford was the only honoree to have graduated. The conference also had two coaches earn NSCAA Regional Coach of the Year in Brian Wiese from Georgetown (Northeast Region) and Ken Lolla from Louisville (Great Lakes Region). Lolla was also named the NSCAA Division I Coach of the Year.
BIG EAST Championship at Red Bull Arena
The BIG EAST postseason will again feature the top 12 of the teams of the conference as the top six teams in each division will qualify for the championship. The selection and seeding is based on regular-season conference records. The top two teams in each division earn first-round byes to the quarterfinals. The first round (Nov. 3) and quarterfinal games (Nov. 5) will be held on campuses of the higher seeded teams.
The semifinals and final will be held, for the second-consecutive year, at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J., on Nov. 11 and 13. The champion receives the league's automatic bid to the 48-team NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Championship. CBS Sports Network will air both semifinal games live. The championship game will be broadcast on select BIG EAST regional television outlets and CBS SN.
The BIG EAST on TV
BIG EAST soccer will make 30 appearances on television this season, highlighted by games on CBS Sports Network, ESPNU and Fox Soccer Channel. USF at West Virginia on Sept. 25 will be televised on SBS Sports Network, as will the BIG EAST Men's Soccer Semifinals and Championship games on Nov. 11 and 13. On Oct. 18, USF will play at Louisville in a game shown on ESPNU. The Fox Soccer Channel will broadcast Marquette at Wisconsin - Milwaukee on Sept. 7, Louisville at Notre Dame on Sept. 24 and Providence at West Virginia on Oct. 21.
For all BIG EAST soccer information, including scores, releases and championship information, log onto www.bigeastsoccer.com.