One way or another, the 2016 Marquette men’s soccer season comes to an end on Thursday night. With a record of 4-7-4, there’s no way Marquette can get an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. With a Big East record of 1-5-2, they’ve already been eliminated from contention for one of the six spots in the conference tournament.
It’s not terribly surprising, to be honest. That’s the kind of thing that happens when you’re playing mostly newcomers and guys who have been on the team but haven't actually played significant minutes.
While the season overall hasn't been a picnic, it has had its share of bright spots. The most notable bright spot is freshman midfielder Luka Prpa. With every team in the Big East playing their final match today, Prpa has a chance to finish the regular season with the most points in the league. He’s just barely trailing Providence’s Julian Gressel and Butler’s David Goldsmith. With three Freshman of the Week awards in his back pocket, more than any other player, Prpa is a shoo-in for Freshman of the Year.
Thursday night’s contest will be the last one in the careers of center back John Pothast and keeper Mac Wheeler. Pothast has started every single Marquette match when he’s been on the active roster in his time in Milwaukee, recording three goals and five assists. Wheeler spent his first three years at Marquette backing up all time great keeper Charlie Lyon, but had made seven appearances over the past two seasons. He’s allowing just barely under a goal per game this season in four matches, and I would expect him to get the start on Senior Night.
Big East Match #9: vs DePaul (9-6-2, 4-4-0 Big East)
Marquette has a 24-5-1 all time record against DePaul. However, all five losses have come in the last seven contests, including a 3-0 defeat in last year’s season finale.
Marquette might be out of the postseason, but DePaul is still alive. The Blue Demons are currently sitting in sixth place, holding the final conference tournament spot. Their 12 points have them one point ahead of 7th place Georgetown, but also one point behind a logjam of teams tied for third place with 13 points. Depending on how everything else shakes out, DePaul could go anywhere from hosting a quarterfinal match to being completely out of the tournament, so they’ll be highly motivated to get points out of this match for sure.
DePaul put themselves into this position with a 4-1-0 run in the last five contests, including shutout wins in each of the last two. Their only loss came at the hands of Providence, the team currently in first place, so it’s very clear that the Blue Demons have been taking care of business elsewhere in the table.
Two Blue Demons are carrying the load on offense. Simon Megally and Erik Rodriguez both have seven goals on the year, which has them in a tie for sixth best in the league. Megally’s five assists boost him to the team lead in points at 19, although he shares the team lead in helpers with Hans Wustling. Quentin Low has played all but 24 minutes in net for DePaul this year, giving up just a little bit more than a goal per 90 minutes. DePaul will give up shots - they’ve been outshot by their opponents this season, 212-191 - but Low stops 76% of shots on frame and averages 3.5 saves per match.