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NCAA Aug 19, 2021

BIG EAST announces 2021 preseason rankings and all-conference awards

NEW YORK – Georgetown was selected by the league’s men’s soccer coaches to finish as the top team in the BIG EAST as the Conference announced the Preseason Coaches’ Poll and all-conference awards.

Preseason Offensive Player of the Year honors were split between Creighton’s Diego Gutierrez and Seton Hall’s CJ Tibbling. Two-time BIG EAST Goalkeeper of the Year Giannis Nikopolidis earned the preseason accolade and Seton Hall’s Luca Dahn was voted Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.

Georgetown, the BIG EAST championship runner-up, topped the preseason poll with 98 points and eight first-place votes. The Hoyas were followed by BIG EAST champion Seton Hall with 93 points and the remaining first-place votes. Georgetown finished the year ranked No. 5 in the United Soccer Coaches Poll with a 10-2-2 record; Seton Hall was No. 9 with a 10-2-4 record.

Creighton checked in at third in the preseason conference coaches’ poll with 74 points, followed by Providence with 67. Rounding out the top five was Marquette with 64 points.

The second half of the poll included St. John’s with 60 points, Butler in seventh with 55 points, UConn and Xavier tied with 29 points, DePaul with 24 points and Villanova with 12.

Georgetown, Seton Hall and Marquette were NCAA Tournament teams last season with the Hoyas and Pirates advancing to the Quarterfinals and the Golden Eagles in the Third Round.

Gutierrez is the reigning BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year after tying for the lead in the conference in points last season (16) with five goals and six assists. His six assists ranked at to the top of the league and his goal total tied for fourth. Last spring was Gutierrez’s first season with the Bluejays after spending 2017-19 with Nebraska-Omaha where he scored 10 goals and assisted 13. An Omaha native, Gutierrez was the fifth player in Creighton history to earn BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year awards. The Bluejay forward was also voted to the United Soccer Coaches All-East Region squad as well as the BIG EAST First Team.

Sharing the honor with Gutierrez is Tibbling, who led the Pirates last season with 17 points on seven goals and three assists. In league play, Tibbling accounted for two goals for Seton Hall, which ranked seventh in the conference. The Jarna, Sweden native, earned BIG EAST First Team and United Soccer Coaches All-East Region First Team accolades and was recognized as a Second Team All-American. The senior forward earned BIG EAST All-Tournament accolades with six points in two matches, helping SHU to its first title since 1991. Tibbling also was named a First Team Scholar All-American by the United Soccer Coaches and was a CoSIDA Academic All-America Second Team honoree. In postseason play, Tibbling scored the game-winner over Air Force in the NCAA First Round and converted his PK against Virginia Tech in the Second Round. In the BIG EAST title game, Tibbling scored the game-winner in the 63rd minute for the victory over Georgetown.

Nikopolidis is the two-time defending BIG EAST Goalkeeper of the Year. The Athens, Greece native, was a First Team All-America selection after earning All-East Region First Team honors in spring 2021. Nikopolidis started 12 games for the Hoyas with six shutouts in 1,341 minutes in goal. He posted an 8-2-1 overall record between the pipes. Nikopolidis saved 26 shots last year and boasted a 0.61 goals-against average for the season. The senior has earned his spot in the Georgetown record books as he currently ranks fourth on the program’s all-time shutout list.

Dahn, a senior from Kahl, Germany started all 16 games for Seton Hall last season logging 1,521 minutes on the pitch. Dahn earned Second Team All-America honors and All-East Region and All-BIG EAST First Team accolades. Dahn scored twice for SHU and picked up an assist for five points on the year. Dahn helped anchor a defensive unite that had six shutouts on the season as well as a one-goal win in the BIG EAST title game. Dahn is also Seton Hall’s returning Male Athlete of the Year.

A total of 11 were named to the Preseason All-BIG EAST Team, including Gutierrez, Tibbling, Dahn and Nikopolidis. All 11 received All-BIG EAST honors last spring with nine returning from the first team. In addition to Gutierrez and Tibbling, Georgetown’s Dante Polvara and Providence’s Paulo Lima were unanimous selections.

All-BIG EAST honors and preseason polls were decided by a vote of the league’s head coaches, who were not permitted to vote for their own team or players. The 2021 season gets underway on Thursday, Aug. 26. Conference action begins Saturday, Sept. 18.

BIG EAST Men’s Soccer Preseason Honors

Preseason Co-Offensive Players of the Year
Diego Gutierrez, Creighton, Sr., F
CJ Tibbling, Seton Hall, Sr., F

Preseason Defensive Player of the Year
Luca Dahn, Seton Hall, Sr., D

Preseason Goalkeeper of the Year
Giannis Nikopolidis, Georgetown, Sr., GK

Men’s Soccer Preseason All-BIG EAST
Wilmer Cabrera Jr., Butler, Jr., F
Diego Gutierrez, Creighton, Sr., F ^
CJ Tibbling, Seton Hall, Sr., F ^
Lukas Sunesson, Marquette, RS-Jr., F
Sean Zawadzki, Georgetown, Sr., M
Dante Polvara, Georgetown, Jr., M ^
Paulo Lima, Providence, Sr., M ^
Luca Dahn, Seton Hall, Sr., D
Rhys Myers, Butler, Grad, D
Ramzi Qawasmy, Providence, Sr., D
Giannis Nikopolidis, Georgetown, Sr., GK

Men’s Soccer Preseason Coaches’ Poll
First Place votes in ()
1. Georgetown (8) 98 points
2. Seton Hall (3) 93
3. Creighton 74
4. Providence 67
5. Marquette 64
6. St. John’s 60
7. Butler 55
T8. UConn 29
T8. Xavier 29
10. DePaul 24
11. Villanova 12

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