With the first half clock starting to wind down towards zero (because college soccer hates me and insists on counting down two 45 minute halves), Marquette had fired off 17 shots at DePaul keeper Alejandria Godinez. Five of them were on frame, and Godinez, carrying the best save percentage in the league coming into the match, stopped all five of them. That's when Mary Luba stepped in. In the 44th minute, the junior midfielder gained possession outside the top of the 18 yard box and fired away. The shot bent into the upper right 90 of the net, and Marquette had a 1-0 lead in a stadium where the home team hadn't lost all season.
Things tipped in DePaul's favor in the second half. I'm not sure which team adjusted more at halftime to cause a change, but someone did and instead of the 18-3 shot advantage that Marquette had before intermission, the shots were much more even after the break. Marquette only had a 10-9 advantage in the second half, but from watching the match it definitely felt like the Blue Demons were the ones with the advantage. Unfortunately for their scoring chances, most of the advantages that DePaul had turned into long balls played into the 18 yard box which were immediately swallowed up by MU keeper Amanda Engel.
DePaul had three scoring chances where they caught bad breaks in the second half. Elise Wyatt, the Blue Demons' leading scorer had a shot in the 65th minute that I thought beat Engel from my view point, but the official box score says that Engel saved. Either way, the ball definitely deflected off the right post, but DePaul couldn't follow up. Right at the 75 minute mark, MU's Jacie Jermier was issued a yellow card for performing an excellent judo takedown on a DePaul player. This would turn into a free kick from 25 yards out for DePaul. The first shot hit the MU wall, the second was also blocked, the third was saved by a diving Engel but not wrapped up, and the fourth shot in 28 seconds went into the side of the net.
The final solid chance came in the 81st minute, at least I think it did. It was definitely after Katie Hishmeh was issued a yellow card long after she had brushed past Wyatt near midfield and Wyatt went down and stayed down. Hishmeh and Wyatt had been tangled up a few minutes earlier and from what I saw, it sure didn't look like Hishmeh had done anything to Wyatt on the way past. In any case, the ball came in and went off the crossbar and DePaul sent it back towards the net, where Hishmeh put a boot on it for a clearance. Neither Hishmeh's clearance nor the ball off the crossbar are in the official play by play as official shots by DePaul, but they were both risky moments late in the game for the Golden Eagles.
Engel finished the match with five saves, as Marquette wrapped up their fourth straight shutout. Engel's personal shutout streak is currently sitting at 374:39 minutes.
Marquette moves to 14-3-0 on the season and 7-0-0 in Big East play. With the win, the Golden Eagles clinched a bye in the Big East tournament quarterfinals, meaning that the first Big East tournament match they play will be in the semifinals down at Valley Fields.
Up Next: The only thing left for Marquette to wrap up will be their fifth consecutive regular season Big East championship, and they get a chance to do that on Sunday against Providence (5-8-3, 2-5-0 Big East) at home. MU sits five points ahead of Georgetown in the standings, and a win over the Friars in the second to last game of the season will prevent the Hoyas from getting a chance to surpass the Golden Eagles.