By: Donnie Menke ~Staff Writer~
Men’s soccer wrapped up the preseason this week, falling to No. 4 Maryland 3-1. The Musketeers open up the regular season on Friday, August 26, hosting Evansville at XU Soccer Complex, with first touch set for 7 p.m. With the start of the season right around the corner, it is time to preview the upcoming season.
Building off of a strong season last year, in which it defeated No. 1 Creighton and No. 2 Notre Dame on the road, Xavier appears to be in position for another successful year. The schedule this season includes, as the polls stand, nine games against top 100 teams, No. 26 Virginia, No. 20 Dartmouth, No. 93 Cincinnati, No. 24 Louisville, No. 7 Georgetown, No. 59 Providence, No. 61 Villanova, No. 8 Creighton and No. 43 Butler. However, the increased difficulty in schedule could be countered by the incoming recruiting class, which is ranked among the best ever for Xavier soccer. With eight true freshmen, this class has potential to break records and continue its recent success.
This season should see the team extend its streak of tenwin seasons to seven despite the tough schedule. While the team did lose a few impact players, the loss should be made up for by the new players.
One strength of this team lies in the defense, as junior Cory Brown was named the preseason Big East defender of the year. The attack should be strong this year too, as junior Matt Vasquenza was also named to the preseason All-Big East team. Both are coming off of strong seasons, as Vasquenza scored five goals, including three game-winners, and one assist in 15 games started. This is only the second time in team history that two members made the preseason All-Big East team, the other being 2013 with Matt Walker and Nick Hagglund.
This is shaping up to be one of the better seasons in the recent run of success. In the preseason Big East poll, Xavier finished fourth behind Creighton, Georgetown and Providence and even received a first-place vote for the first time in program history.
Should the Musketeers get some wins in the difficult parts of the schedule, an NCAA tournament berth is a real possibility.