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Thursday, September 4, 2008

On Soccer

Path ahead complicates progressivism

Take cultured heed in rating PC women’s early success

Yes, at 2-0, the PC women’s soccer program is off to its best arithmetical start since 2001, when it lashed out of the gates for three quick savory wins. And they will try to equate that exotic 3-0 feat this afternoon in a home tangle with Holy Cross.

Not that the immediate present means nothing. The Friars could just stand to consistently raze and reform their longstanding grade in the Big East caste system before they label themselves new wave competitors.

For while the NCAA’s pigskin bigwigs fill up on cupcakes –or regurgitate them in the form of an upset- collegiate soccer royalty is getting the tougher stuff –i.e. each other- out of the way first before conference rivals convene more regularly.

It’s a callously obvious reminder for fans of the Glay Field Girls, but their team is working their way from the bottom up all over again. And foundations of this sort don’t prop up so easily.

Just recall 2006. Between two wins, three draws, and one postponement, the Friars of that year thawed out in their nonconference slate to a 2-0-3 start concomitant with three shutouts and a flush GF-GA differential of 5-2. After a subsequent 4-0 biff at the hands of Connecticut, they scraped out two more wins (one in another interleague match with Quinnipiac) and two more ties en route to a shallow Big East transcript of 1-8-2 (4-8-5 overall; in other words, a blemish-free nonconference record which amounted to nothing when the standings turned to stone).

The previous year, Providence had sliced out a .500 percentage in its first six outings, all nonconference, sprinkling multiple goals in each of three wins. They only reran that feat one more time in a 3-2 loss at DePaul and again mustered a negligible solitary win in Big East play.

Yes, the 2008 offense does have reason to be more sufficient than previous editions. And the Friars are already two goals shy of equating their 2007 season’s total. But one of those was reluctantly credited to the defense of an opponent completely novice to Division I competition (Bryant University).

The ten points tangibly credited to a striker –eight in the form of goals, two in helpers- have been split amongst a brittle three individuals (six for Tara Ricciardi, three for Kate DelCampio, and one for Jill Camburn).

Yes, Ricciardi is flaunting an appreciable SOG percentage of .800 and has a groundbreaking three goals to her credit –enough to land her on the first weekly Big East honor roll of the season. But for aforementioned reasons, it is anything but a secure omen for when the Friars actually get soiled with conference cohabitants, which won’t be for another two weeks and four games.

Yes, the Friars are undefeated so far in their full-throttle tune-up for Big East competition. But between them and their 15 conference cohabitants, that makes seven of them (Georgetown, Marquette, Notre Dame, Rutgers, St. John’s, Villanova).

Moreover, Tuesday’s refreshed rankings from NSCAA/Adidas include: #5 Notre Dame, #13 West Virginia, and #19 UConn, plus honorable mentions for Georgetown (33 votes), St. John’s (27), Louisville (10), Villanova (9), and Marquette (6). And a majority of these forthcoming adversaries are also honing their cleats in an array of weekend tournaments –including those hosted by Villanova this Friday, featuring Cincinnati, and the UConn Classic next week, which has the Huskies raring to face #2-rated UCLA.

Meanwhile, PC can look forward to today’s skill-building assistance from Holy Cross, a team which hasn’t gobbled any more than four wins per season in recent memory, and Sunday’s home tangle with Manhattan –which is also subsisting on relatively trivial pleasures thanks to a 1-0 break-in triumph over Northeastern last Friday and goalkeeper Caitlin Trupiano’s selection as the MAAC conference’s Defensive Player of the Week.

Fact is the Friars are still reduced to whetting something between butter knives and office shears versus the bayonets other teams are bound to brandish. PC’s competitive posture still isn’t affording it reasonable opportunities to wow the national landscape while it’s still reaching over conference borders.

Yes, winning certainly never hurts. But the most favorable scenario will be to preserve this productive grinding trend through the better part of the Big East hunk of the schedule and thus prove to finally be a genuine conference playoff contender.

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