PROVIDENCE, R.I. - BIG EAST Championship first round competition begins on Wednesday night when Cincinnati visits Marquette and will continue on Thursday, when Villanova hosts Seton Hall.
The Bearcats enter the postseason as the No. 5 seed in the Red Division, while the Golden Eagles are the No. 4 seed in the Blue Division. The two will meet at 8 p.m. ET tonight.
Cincinnati finished the regular season tied for fourth place with Villanova as each posted a 3-3-2 record in conference play. The Bearcats and Golden Eagles have not met this season. Sophomore Cole DeNormandie leads Cincinnati with 10 points, on three goals and a team-high four assists. Redshirt-sophomore Taylor Hafling has started all 18 games in net for the Bearcats, making 79 saves and posting a 0.99 goals-against average.
Marquette began the 2012 season with a 12-game winning streak and was ranked as high as No. 2 in the Soccer America national poll (Oct. 9). The Golden Eagles are currently ranked No. 5/3 nationally. The only two losses for MU this season were a 2-1 decision to then-No. 10/14 Georgetown on Oct. 13 and 3-1 game to then-No. 8/7 Notre Dame on Oct. 24. In a rematch with the Fighting Irish three days later, MU battled to a 1-1 double-overtime draw.
The winner of the match between UC and MU will play the No. 1 seed in the Red Division, Louisville, on Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. ET. The Cardinals went 7-1 in BIG EAST play to capture the regular season title and earn a bye to the quarterfinals.
No. 5 Blue seed Seton Hall visits No. 4 Red seed Villanova on Thursday afternoon.
Seton Hall enters the BIG EAST Championship having faced five-straight top-10 opponents. The postseason appearance is the first for the Pirates since 2007. SHU tied with Providence for fifth place in the division, and earned the postseason berth by virtue of a head-to-head win against the Friars earlier in the season. It is Seton Hall’s 22nd BIG EAST Championship appearance in program history. The two teams have only met once in postseason play, with Seton Hall defeating the Wildcats 4-0 on Nov. 8, 1991.
Villanova is led by senior Kyle Soroka, who has 16 points with a team-leading seven goals and two assists. Sophomore Oscar Umar is second on the squad with 11 points (4g, 3a). Redshirt-senior John Fogarty has started all 18 games this season, with a goals-against average of 0.87. The Wildcats are coming off a 4-0 win against Pittsburgh on Oct. 27. Villanova is making its sixth-straight appearance in the BIG EAST Championship.
The winner of the match will advance to play Connecticut, the top seed in the Blue Division, in a quarterfinal tilt on Saturday, Nov. 3, at 7 p.m.
The other two quarterfinal matchups will feature No. 3 Blue seed Notre Dame at No. 2 seed Syracuse at 7 p.m. and No. 3 Red St. John’s at No. 2 Blue Georgetown at 1 p.m. Both games will be played on Nov. 3.
The winners of the quarterfinals will advance to play in the semifinals, hosted at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J., at 5 and 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 9. The final will be played on Nov. 11 at noon. Last year, St. John’s defeated Connecticut in the final to clinch the BIG EAST Championship title.