Breaking down the four clubs vying for the BIG EAST crown this Friday, Sunday at PPL Park

Closer look at the four teams heading to PPL Park this weekend

Big East men's soccer image

Photo Credit: 
Greg Carroccio

For the second year in a row, the Big East men’s soccer championship weekend will be held at PPL Park.

Actually for the second week in a row, the home of Union soccer has been the home of major college soccer. Last Friday, it was Army-Navy returning for a second straight year and this weekend, Providence, Butler, Marquette and last season's Big East runner-up Georgetown will vie for the conference crown and an all-important automatic bid into the NCAA tournament.

In theory, it’s likely one of these teams will return to the Chester waterfront in a month’s time as PPL Park also plays host for the NCAA championship weekend, Dec. 13-15.

If you don’t know these teams, no need to worry. The teams practiced Thursday at PPL Park giving us at philadelphiaunion.com a chance to see what fans can expect beginning Friday, with the championship game on Sunday at 12:30 p.m.

On Friday, No. 4 Providence will square off against top-seeded Georgetown at 6 p.m., while No. 6 Butler will face No. 2 seed Marquette in the 8 p.m. nightcap.

Georgetown Hoyas (No. 1 seed)

Head coach: Brian Wiese (eighth season)

Team record: 13-4-1 overall (6-2-1 in BIG EAST)

Last five (5): WLWWL

Player to watch: Keep your eye on midfielder Steve Neumann. Named the BIG EAST offensive player of the year, Neumann has started every match this season for the Hoyas and leads the team in scoring with 10 goals and six helpers. Neumann is clutch from the spot as well, going 4-for-4 in PKs this season.

Of note: Neumann who is from New Hope, Pa. and attended Council Rock North was also the BIG EAST preseason player of the year joining just a handful of players in conference history to start and end with the honor.

Marquette Golden Eagles (No. 2 seed)

Head coach: Louis Bennett (eighth season)

Team record: 10-5-2 overall (6-2-1 in BIG EAST)

Last five (5): WTLWL

Player to watch: Redshirt junior goalkeeper Charlie Lyon played in all 17 matches for the Golden Eagles compiling an 0.85 goals against average and eight shutouts. He’s been the club’s rock all season and instrumental in their No. 2 seed in the tournament.

Of note: Marquette averages 1.47 goals per game, but it’s the Eagles’ defensive numbers that are truly stingy, holding opponents to under a goal a game (0.88) and have allowed just 77 shots on frame all season. Marquette also locked up a share of the BIG EAST regular season title with Georgetown, the second time in three seasons it ended the regular season as champ.

Providence Friars (No. 4 seed)

Head coach: Craig Stewart (second season)

Team record: 12-4-2 overall (6-3 in BIG EAST)

Last five (5): WLWWW

Player to watch: It’s truly goals by committee for the Friars who have six players with three or more goals this season. Freshman Julian Gressel leads the charge with four goals and four assists on the year. Gressel will take chances as the stats have him listed as 55 shots taken this season, a team high.

Of note: The Friars seek its first trip to the BIG EAST final since 2010. Before that Providence hadn’t been in a Sunday match since 1984. In both appearances, Providence came up short, losing to 3-2 in penalties to Louisville after that match went scoreless for 120 minutes. In 1984, it was mighty Connecticut that defeated the Friars, 1-0 in regulation.

Butler Bulldogs (No. 6 seed)

Head coach: Paul Snape (first season)

Team record: 11-7-1 overall (4-5 in BIG EAST)

Last five (5): LLLWW

Player to watch: Freshman forward David Goldsmith is Butler’s hot hand, leading the club with 12 goals and a pair of assists. Goldsmith hails from Bristol, England and according to Butler’s website the frosh was groomed in the academy of English Premier League side West Bromwich Albion for five years. 

Of note: While this is head coach Paul Snape’s first season with the Bulldogs, it’s not Snape’s first rodeo on the college scene. Overseeing the program at the University of Michigan, Snape led the Wolverines to the NCAA Final Four in 2010…this is the first year for the coach, but it’s also the first year for Butler in BIG EAST play, who joined the conference in all sports but football this fall.

Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at kgabriel@philadelphiaunion.com