By: Kyle Issacs
The Xavier men’s and women’s soccer teams look to improve upon their continued success in the upcoming 2013 season. After a string of positive seasons in the Atlantic 10, the Musketeers are looking to make an impact in the newly formed Big East Conference. With a slate of new opponents and intriguing matchups, both teams have their sights set on another successful campaign.
After three consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament, the men’s soccer team has developed a reputation for coming through in the clutch. There is plenty of optimism for this year, seeing as the team is returning six players that started at least 13 games last season.
The senior class, anchored by defenseman Nick Hagglund, midfielder Matt Walker and midfielder Gino De Paoli, is looking to add to the Xavier program’s recent success.
Hagglund started all 22 games last season for the Musketeers and was named to the 2013 College Sports Madness preseason All-American third team.
The Cincinnati native found himself on the National Soccer Coaches Association of America All-American second team last season as well.
In addition to this honor, both Hagglund and Walker were nominated for the preseason Big East All-Conference team.
On the offensive side, the men’s team will be led by the trio of seniors Walker, De Paoli, and junior Will Walker, who combined to net 24 goals and 25 assists last season.
Head coach Andy Fleming has his work cut out for him competing in the new Big East Conference, with the likes of Georgetown University and Creighton University.
The team was picked to finish fifth in the preseason coaches’ poll behind Georgetown, Creighton, Marquette University and St. John’s University.
The Xavier women’s team is looking to improve upon its record from last season in head coach Woody Sherman’s fourth season at the helm.
The Musketeers have steadily improved since Sherman took over and are itching to ruffle some feathers in the Big East. The women’s team returns 10 players that started over 10 games last season, including three players that earned a start in every single match.
The Musketeers return their three highest goal scorers from
ast season, in addition to junior goalkeeper Katie Markesbery, who notched 134 saves on her way to four shutouts in the 2012 season. Senior midfielder Mariah Whitaker was named to the preseason Big East All-Conference first team.
The women’s team was picked to finish last in the conference, but this should provide enough motivation for the Musketeers to make some noise in their inaugural Big East season.
They have started off on the right foot, securing two victories thus far on their way to winning the Boilermaker Challenge Cup in West Lafayette, Ind.
The Musketeers brought home the championship after a 3-0 win over North Dakota and a 4-3 victory against Purdue.