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2016 NCAA Women’s Soccer Tournament First Round Preview: Marquette at Wisconsin

The Golden Eagles take to the road against their in-state rivals with a spot in the Round of 32 on the line.

NCAA Basketball: Marquette at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

2016 NCAA Women’s Soccer Tournament First Round

Marquette (12-7-2) at Wisconsin (8-4-8)

When: Friday, November 11, 2016, at 7pm Central

Where: McClimon Sports Complex in Madison, WI

Audio/Visual: Live stats only for some reason

Twitter Updates: @MUWomensSoccer

All Time Series: Wisconsin leads, 6-5-2

Current Streak: Marquette is unbeaten in the last two meetings, 1-0-1

Last Meeting: A 2-2 draw in Milwaukee in the second round of the 2010 NCAA tournament, with Marquette advancing on penalty kicks, 5-4

Marquette returns to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2013. That time, the Golden Eagles were in the field as the Big East regular season and tournament champions. Here, they only settle for the regular season title after losing to Georgetown in the title game.

MU appeared to struggle in the non-conference section of the schedule, going 2-4-2 in their first eight matches before evening the slate out with two wins in the yearly tournament that they hosted. But, it was that rough and tumble start that actually paved the way for Markus Roeders and his team to get to the NCAA tournament. Seven of the opponents in those first eight games all qualified for this year’s NCAA field, with UW-Milwaukee coming as the only outlier. MU’s record of 2-4-1 against those squads may not have been good, but it helped the Golden Eagles compile an RPI ranking of #25 when the selection committee sat down to organize the 64 team tournament.

Throw out a 30 shot performance by Stanford earlier this year, and Marquette has essentially played even with their opponents in terms of shots taken. While that’s not really inline with how Roeders’ best teams have played, it’s worked enough for MU to get them back into the postseason. The advantage is that while the shots are even, the goals are not. Thanks to four shutouts during Big East play, Marquette is outscoring their opponents on the season, 31-27. The strength of the defense is Morgan Proffitt, the 2016 Big East Defensive Player of the Year. Her selfless attitude and willingness to always work to get better resulted not only in that postseason trophy, but also in doubling her career best in points this season. Proffitt recorded a career best five goals this year, and her three assists gave her 13 points for the 2016 campaign. That’s a huge jump from the six points on three goals that she had a year ago.

She’s not the driving force in the offense, though, and it’d be hard to tab anyone on the Marquette offense with that title. Carrie Madden leads the Golden Eagles in goals with six after scoring a brace in the Big East semifinals, including an absurd bicycle kick goal that would make AJ Styles jealous. Two more Golden Eagles found the back of the net four times this year and all told, 13 different players recorded at least one point for Marquette this season.

Wisconsin is in the NCAA tournament for the 19th time in program history, and they return after missing out last season. Looking at things from the outside, it’s hard to say that they’re more deserving of a bid than Marquette given their eight draws on the season, but since they’re hosting the match, that’s how the selection committee saw it.

The Badgers are currently riding an eight match unbeaten streak dating back to October 1st, when Dani Rhodes scored a golden goal in the 99th minute to end a scoreless tie against #8 Minnesota. They only have a record of 4-0-4 in those matches, and they’ve never managed to win two matches in a row in that stretch. Technically they’re unbeaten, but they were dumped from the Big Ten tournament in penalty kicks after going to a 1-1 draw with Michigan, just like they did in Ann Arbor in mid-October.

Marquette is going to have a hard time defending the Wisconsin offense, as they’ve outshot their opponents 308-171 on the season. Rose Lavelle, rated as the #1 player in the country at the start of the season by Top Drawer Soccer has to be regarded as their biggest offensive threat merely because of her 21 career goals and 66 career points. However, the stat sheet shows that she’s not alone out there. Emily Borgmann has matched Lavelle in goals with five, and Micaela Powers used her team high six assists to pull even with Lavelle in points with 14.

Redshirt junior Caitlyn Clem handles the goalkeeping duties for Wisconsin. She’s played every minute this season and is allowing just 0.77 goals per 90 minutes. She can be gotten to, though, as she’s stopping just under 80% of the shots on goal. The difficulty becomes getting the shots on goal then, as Clem is averaging just a bit more than three saves per match.