Hokies Picked Ninth in BIG EAST Poll
St. John's tabbed to win title
July 31, 2003

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - After finishing last season with a No. 3 national ranking, St. John's has been chosen to capture the 2003 BIG EAST men's soccer regular season title by a vote of the league's 13 head coaches. Each coach votes for every team except his own, with 12 points for a first-place vote, 11 for second, etc.

The Red Storm, who advanced to the third round of the NCAA College Cup in 2002, earned 135 points in the poll and received five first-place votes. SJU compiled a 13-3-5 record last season and will be led by BIG EAST Preseason Defensive Player of the Year Chris Wingert. The preseason defensive pick for the second straight season, the senior was named first-team All-America and first-team Academic All-America a year ago. He was also one of 15 finalists for the Hermann Trophy, awarded to the top player in Division I soccer.

After finishing in a tie for seventh in 2002, Virginia Tech was picked to place ninth with 57 votes. The Hokies are coming off a 10-7-1 season and return seven starters.

Notre Dame took three first-place votes and 128 points to gain the edge for second place in the preseason poll. The Fighting Irish went 12-6-3 last season en route to a second-round NCAA Championship appearance. ND's top standout should be junior Chris Sawyer, the preseason choice for BIG EAST Goalkeeper of the Year for the second year in a row. He finished third in the conference a year ago with a 0.99 goals against average.

Connecticut also garnered three first-place votes and was third with 127 points. Senior forward Cesar Cuellar was chosen as the league's preseason Offensive Player of the Year and should lead the Huskies. He finished second in the BIG EAST with 35 points, including 16 goals in 2002. Cuellar was first in conference play with 21 points and 10 goals.

Boston College earned the other two votes to finish first and was chosen fourth overall in the poll. Two Eagles were named to the preseason squad - junior back Guy Melamed and junior midfielder Bill Arnault. Melamed was a third team All-America and all-conference first team pick in 2002, while Arnault was an All-BIG EAST second-team selection.

BIG EAST Conference play begins on Aug. 30 when Pittsburgh hosts Boston College. Each team will play a 10-game conference schedule. The top eight teams based on regular season records will qualify for the BIG EAST Soccer Championship. Quarterfinal games will be held on campus sites on Nov. 8 or 9, while the semifinals and final will be held at the Morrone Soccer Stadium in Storrs, Conn. on Nov. 14 & 16.

                                       '02 Record '02 Finish
                         Pts  BIG EAST  Overall   Reg. Season
1.  St. John's (5)       135  7-1-2     13-3-5    2nd
2.  Notre Dame (3)       128  6-3-1     12-6-3    4th
3.  Connecticut (3)      127  7-3-0     17-6-0    3rd
4.  Boston College (2)   117  8-2-0     18-5-0    1st
5.  Rutgers               89  5-4-1      8-8-3    Tied 5th
6.  Seton Hall            87  5-5-0      9-8-3    Tied 7th
7.  Georgetown            75  5-4-1      8-9-1    Tied 5th
8.  Syracuse              67  3-6-1      8-8-2    10th
9.  Virginia Tech         57  5-5-0     10-7-1    Tied 7th
10. Pittsburgh            40  2-7-1      8-9-1    11th
    West Virginia         40  1-8-1      4-11-2   13th
12. Providence            35  5-5-0      7-11-0   Tied 7th
13. Villanova             17  2-8-0      5-13-0   12th
first-place votes in parentheses

PRESEASON AWARDS Offensive Player of the Year Cesar Cuellar, Connecticut, Sr., F Defensive Player of the Year Chris Wingert, St. John's, Sr., B Goalkeeper of the Year Chris Sawyer, Notre Dame, Jr.

Preseason All-BIG EAST Team Chris Sawyer, Notre Dame, Jr., GK Guy Melamed, Boston College, Jr., B *Jeff Curtin, Georgetown, So., B Jack Stewart, Notre Dame, Jr., B Chris Wingert, St. John's, Sr., B Bill Arnault, Boston College, Jr., M Lindon Pecorelli, Connecticut, Sr., M Justin Detter, Notre Dame, Sr., M Ryan McGowan, Seton Hall, Sr., M *Cesar Cuellar, Connecticut, Sr., F Chris Karcz, Rutgers, So., F Chris Corcoran, St. John's, Jr., F Jarett Park, Syracuse, Jr., F