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A Look Back At Marquette Women's Soccer & Advanced Metrics

Let's flash back to the 2014 season and check in on something we wrote early in the season about Marquette's struggles at the time.

Erin Holland returns to the pitch in 2015 after injury shortened her 2014 campaign.
Erin Holland returns to the pitch in 2015 after injury shortened her 2014 campaign.

Last season, your Marquette Golden Eagles women's soccer team got off to a lousy start.  They were 2-5-1 after eight games, and just looked completely out of sorts, at least relative to how a Markus Roeders coached team usually looks.  It wasn't the losing that was really the issue, as Marquette had a recent history of dropping early matches due to early season tests, it was the overall performance of the team.  Something just didn't feel and look right about how they were playing.

My suspicion was that they weren't playing the usual ball control/possession game that they had in the past, and that led to this post, where I blatantly stole adapted the hockey advanced metric of Corsi for use for soccer.  To summarize: Marquette was dominating possession as measured by how much they were outshooting teams in years past, but their advantage in that category was way, way, way down through eight matches last season.

As we head into the 2015 season (HOLY CRAP, the season opener against Utah is next Friday), let's revisit this idea and see how Marquette performed the rest of the season.  After all, last year's team was composed of a number of players either new to the team or playing a new position for the first time, so it stands to reason that the team should have gotten better at playing the possession game that Roeders wanted them to play.

Timeframe Shots For Shots Against Corsi%
Thru 8 games 103 93 52.6
End Of 2014 301 207 59.3

Hey, look at that!  They figured it out!  It ended up being too late to salvage a seventh straight NCAA tournament appearance, but you can't win them all.  A shot percentage of 59.3% isn't that far from the 61.8% that MU posted in 2008 when they went 11-8-3 in the first of those six straight tournament seasons.

Let's attack a few a couple of splits for the final 13 games of the season.  Marquette had two more non-conference games after the eight game mark, including the biggest win over the season, a 1-0 victory against #16 Kansas.  They also advanced to the Big East tournament semifinals, so we're going to rummage around in the stats to maybe get a feel for how Marquette might be trending during Big East competition this season.

Split Shots For Shots Against Corsi%
Final 13 games 198 114 63.5
Big East Reg. 145 75 65.9
All Big East Opp. 170 92 64.9

Those are some really pretty numbers.  The Final 13 Games number is dipped a little bit by tying #16 Kansas in shots in a 1-0 game, and let's be honest: considering that Marquette scored their goal in the 7th minute on a Jacie Jermier free kick, it's pretty impressive to end up deadlocked after 90 minutes.  The all Big East opponents line takes into account Marquette's two Big East tournament games, and when you play a scoreless double overtime game against a DePaul squad that that didn't lose a game in the regular season, you generally end up feeling okay with a 12-10 advantage in shots at the end of that one.

If the Golden Eagles can build on what they learned last year, particularly the defensive corps of Jermier, Erin Holland, and Morgan Proffitt, who all played together in 2014, then perhaps Marquette can see that shot percentage jump back to the kinds of numbers that the coaching staff expects from them and that they will need to return to the postseason.