Crunch time, kids.
As we outlined in our Big East women's soccer tournament scenarios post, Marquette could finish anywhere from tied for the regular season title but holding the #2 seed in the tournament and getting a bye to the semifinals to falling all the way down to 6th place, which would require a road trip on Tuesday for one of the quarterfinal matches. A lot of where Marquette will end up by the time the final seedings are decided is dependent on what the other five teams that have qualified for the tournament do on Friday. What we know for certain is that Marquette is currently in fourth place, which would mean that they would host one of those quarterfinal matches, and if they defeat DePaul on Friday afternoon, they can't finish any lower than fourth.
Marquette's definitely riding high heading into the decisive season finale. The Golden Eagles are undefeated in their last five matches, winning four and pulling a rabbit out of their hat to salvage a draw against Georgetown while shorthanded and down two goals. More importantly, they haven't allowed a shot on goal since the Hoyas scored their second goal in the 66th minute of that double overtime contest, a stretch of over 220 minutes. Hell, forget the shots on goal, MU has only allowed 10 shots of any kind in that stretch. Yes, part of that is playing 1-16-0 Villanova, but you have to remember that this run started with 35+ minutes of Marquette playing with only 10 women against Georgetown.
Big East Match #9: at DePaul (11-3-4, 5-1-2 Big East)
When: Friday, October 30, 2015, at 2pm Central
Where: Wish Field in Chicago, IL
Audio/Visual: The Big East Digital Network on Fox Sports Go has the live video stream, and there's live stats, too.
Twitter Updates: @MUWomensSoccer
PSSSSSST. DePaul is winless in their last three matches.
Now, let's be fair here: they went to draws with both Georgetown and St. John's, aka the team they're tied with in second place in the standings and the team just two points in front of them. There's not much you can really fault them for on those two. HOWEVER, they also got shutout by Providence in Rhode Island, and it was that 2-0 loss that cost them their top 25 ranking a week ago. DePaul's offense wasn't sputtering in that match, as they launched 20 shots in 90 minutes and forced PC keeper Kristyn Shea to make 12 saves to preserve the clean sheet.
Before that off-kilter stretch, things had been going pretty well for DePaul this season. As mentioned, before they lost to Providence, the Blue Demons were ranked #20 in the country. Before this current week, there were only two weeks during the entire rest of the season where DePaul wasn't ranked in either the NSCAA or Soccer America Top 25. Even in those two cases, though, DePaul was at least getting votes in one of the polls. That's not the case now.
Even with all of that, DePaul has their eyes on the #1 seed in the Big East conference tournament here. They'll need help, as they currently trail St. John's. But the margin is only two points, and the only way for the Blue Demons to pass the Red Storm is to get three points with a win here. They will be motivated to get those points, to be sure.
If Marquette wants to keep up their outstanding defensive efforts lately, they're going to have to spread their attention around a bit. Yes, Elise Wyatt leads DePaul with 11 goals and four assists, which has her tied for the ninth most goals in the country this season. But Franny Cerny has found the back of the net six times this season, Abby Reed has five markers, and there's two more players that have four goals. Not only will MU have to spread their attention around, they're going to have to keep their heads on swivels to watch for passing lanes. DePaul has 33 assists on 38 goals this season, which is tied for the most helpers in the league this season, so they're not shy about sharing the ball.
Alejandria Godinez minds the net for the Blue Demons, and as has been the case for the past two seasons, she's doing a hell of a job. She has the lowest goals-against average in the Big East this season at 0.62. She's allowed just 11 goals in DePaul's 18 matches this season. Godinez's save percentage (.766) is only middle of the pack in the league, but that's merely a function of the defense in front of her. DePaul has only allowed 47 shots on goal all season long, and if they're being stingy with even allowing shots, then of course the ones that actually get launched are more likely to go in.