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Marquette Women's Soccer Weekend Preview: vs #16/14 Kansas & vs LSU

The Golden Eagles look to right the ship with the first of two straight weekends at home.

We subbed in a picture of LSU's Mike The Tiger for Colorado College earlier this season, so it's only fair that we use the Kansas Jayhawk this week.
We subbed in a picture of LSU's Mike The Tiger for Colorado College earlier this season, so it's only fair that we use the Kansas Jayhawk this week.
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

When you're 2-5-1 on the season, you look forward to playing home games.  If nothing else, you have the comfort of your own bed and the familiarity of your own facilities.

What you really don't want is to have to play an undefeated opponent coming out of the Big 12, but that's the task that faces Marquette on Friday night.  Things don't get easier on Sunday afternoon with a solid SEC program coming into the Valley.  It's the last weekend of non-conference action before the Big East season gets started, so it's the last chance that Marquette will have to fine tune how they're playing before attempting to grab a sixth straight regular season title.

I don't want to overstate the importance of these two games, but as things stand right now, Marquette is edging perilously close to needing a Big East tournament title in order to reach their seventh straight NCAA tournament.  A quick glance at the Bennett rankings (no relation to the MU men's coach or player, I presume) shows MU sitting at 50th in the country with two bad losses on the profile.  A 2-0-0 weekend would go a long, long way to readjusting that heading into conference play.

Match #9: vs #16/14 Kansas (8-0-0)

When: Friday, September 19, 2014, at 7pm
Where: Valley Fields
Audio/Visual: Free streaming video as usual, plus live stats.
Special Promotions: The first 150 students to get to the Valley get FREE PIZZA.
Twitter Updates: @MUWomensSoccer

The Jayhawks aren't just undefeated, but they're clearly a top 20 program this season.  It's safe to say that this was not an expected development, as Kansas was picked to finish sixth in the nine team Big 12 (insert joke here) in the preseason coaches' voting. The Jayhawks got a major boost in their rankings when they knocked off #24 Wake Forest in Lawrence, KS, back on August 31.  The other thing working in their favor is that they've only given up four goals all season, and they're currently working on a stretch of nearly 280 minutes without allowing a goal.

Junior midfielder Liana Salazar leads Kansas with six goals on the season, while senior forward Ali Kimura is tops in assists with four.  Kaitlyn Stroud is the keeper of choice for the Jayhawks, playing in seven of their eight matches.  She has the 14th best goals-against average in the country at 0.42, and she's stopping 89.3% of the shots that make their way on goal.

Match #10: vs LSU (4-3-1)

When: Sunday, September 21, 2014, at 1pm
Where: Valley Fields
Audio/Visual: Free streaming video as usual, plus live stats.
Special Promotions: Double Fanatics points for students that attend this match, and $1 root beer floats for everyone!
Twitter Updates: @MUWomensSoccer

While Kansas will clearly be the more difficult opponent for Marquette this weekend, the Tigers aren't toothless.  Yes, they have wins against Nicholls State, Troy, and Northwestern State.  But they also went to Provo and beat BYU, and in their most recent game, they lost 1-0 to #25 Duke.  Ok, losing 1-0 doesn't sound like much but the Blue Devils outshot LSU 27-8.  Yes, in soccer.  The match against Marquette will be the fourth straight road contest for LSU, and they'll be making their way to Milwaukee after opening their SEC slate against Missouri on Friday night.

Jorian Baucom and Summer Clarke have both scored four goals for the Tigers, and both have two assists as well to tie for the team lead in both points and goals.  Natalia Gomez-Junco has three helpers to lead LSU in that column.  Freshman Lily Alfeld tends the net for the Tigers, and the New Zealand native has posted a goals-against average of 1.09 and a save percentage of .800 so far this season.