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Marquette Men’s Soccer Preview: vs Xavier

Things are getting a little dire for the Golden Eagles when it comes to a return to the Big East tournament.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Big East Conference Tournament-Xavier vs DePaul David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Marquette is in last place.

At 0-3-2 in Big East matches, the Golden Eagles have acquired just two points via their two draws, and that has them trailing ninth place Seton Hall (and their win over Marquette) by one point. Only six teams qualify for the conference tournament, and with four matches left and a maximum of 12 possible points in front of them, MU trails sixth place Villanova by five points.

It’s not over by a long shot. It’s also not looking very good for Marquette to find their way back to the Big East tournament after missing out last year. MU’s next three matches, including Saturday night’s encounter with the Musketeers, are against teams that would be in the tournament if it started today. Xavier would get a bye to the semifinals, while the other two opponents are #3 and #4 in the standings. That is not going to be a picnic to carve points out of that schedule, and even if Louis Bennett and his charges manage that, they still have to play current 7th place squad DePaul in the regular season finale. In other words, even if MU catches a large quantity of breaks over the next week, the Blue Demons could still play the roles of Spoiler and Gatekeeper to keep MU out of the postseason.

The hope is that Marquette can bottle some of what they had going in the second half against Creighton. They were outplayed in the first 45 minutes, but held an advantage against a top 10 team for the second session and even pulled even late thanks to Jan Maertins before CU eventually got a game winner. If Second Half Vs Creighton Marquette shows up in the next four matches, maybe we can get at least one more match this season.

Big East Match #6: vs Xavier (7-3-3, 3-1-1 Big East)

When: Saturday, October 22, 2016, at 7pm
Where: Valley Fields
Audio/Visual: The Big East Digital Network on Fox Sports Go has the video stream & there’s live stats.
Special Promotion: Season ticket holders get two FREE extra tickets!
Twitter Updates: @marquettesoccer & @xaviermsoc

Marquette is 4-2-0 all time against Xavier in a series that dates back to 1987. However, the Musketeers have taken the victory in each of the past two contests, including a 1-0 overtime contest a year ago.

As we make the pivot into the back end of the conference schedule, the Musketeers are sitting in second place in the Big East. It’s a precarious second place, though, as Xavier has 10 points and sixth place Villanova, holding the final Big East tournament spot right now, has seven points. It would be a bigger margin, but those two teams squared off in Xavier’s most recent conference match and were only able to manage a 2-2 draw with the Wildcats.

To make matters worse, they followed that up with a 1-0 home loss to SIU-Edwardsville. The Cougars aren’t necessarily bad at 6-4-3 on the year, but when you consider the facts of 1) home game and 2) Xavier had picked up a #24 ranking in the Top Drawer Soccer poll one week earlier, it’s not the result that they were looking for.

So now, winless in their last two and looking to maintain their hold on a bye in the conference tournament quarterfinals, the Musketeers come to Milwaukee. They’re going to rely on having a variety of offensive options at their disposal on Saturday night in the Valley. Four different players have recorded at least three goals for them this season, and six have racked up at least three assists. In fact, thanks to the secondary assist rules of soccer, Xavier actually has more assists (25) than they do goals (21). You don’t accomplish that with luck or on accident, so Marquette will have to wary of their passing.

Sophomore Colin Hanley has taken over in net for Xavier, starting in each of the last nine matches. He’s been pretty good, recording five shutouts along the way. He’s ranked 4th in the Big East in goals-against average (0.65) and second in save percentage (86.7%), and even picked up a conference Keeper of the Week award along the way.