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Marquette Women’s Soccer Weekend Preview: The Marquette Invitational

The Golden Eagles are in need of some kind of a kick in the pants as they wrap up non-conference play this weekend.

Seville Celebrates The Feria de Abril
Cal State Northridge are the Matadors.
Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

2 wins, 4 losses, 2 draws.

It has not been a fun season so far for Marquette women’s soccer. Picked to finish third in the Big East in 2016, Marquette currently holds the third worst record in the league. There’s a certain amount of variance in records in non-conference play - you’re allowed to make your schedule as difficult as you want - but there’s really no reason why this team, with this many seniors, should be closer to the bottom than they are to the top.

That’s a metaphorical “no reason,” of course. We can point to the fact that they’re getting outshot this season. Even if you take out the -29 differential from the Stanford game, Marquette is still getting outshot 77-70 on the season. While we can talk about MU’s inability to score goals this season (third fewest in the Big East), the fact of the matter is that you can’t score if you’re not shooting. You can’t shoot if you don’t have the ball, and the biggest indicator that you don’t have the ball is when the other team is shooting it more than you.

I don’t even think that Marquette’s defense is even bad. Sure, it’d be more fun if keeper Maddy Henry had a goals-against average better than 1.30, but that’s fine. The back line playing in front of her appears to be playing well, which makes me think that the problem is largely in MU’s midfield. In past seasons, the most notable thing you’d see from Markus Roeders’ teams would be that the ball would get removed from the opposition in the midfield, allowing the backs to just clean it up and keep it a long ways away from the keeper. That constant suffocation of the opponent led to more scoring chances for MU as the Golden Eagles would push the ball back up the field. That’s just not happening. Morgan Proffitt, the Big East’s Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, is leading the team in shots. That’s not great. They need to find a way to activate the forwards and get the offense moving. Whether that’s something like more playing time for Ashley Handwork and Meegan Johnston (nine shots each while playing fewer than half the available minutes) or something else, I don’t know. But it is obvious that this team needs to get back to dominating the ball.

This weekend is the Marquette Invitational, and because it is a tournament format, both Marquette games will be the back end of doubleheaders. That means that MU’s two opponents this weekend will be playing Loyola-Chicago in the front half of those doubleheaders, and it also means that the start times for Marquette are approximate. The Friday match is probably pretty safe with three hours between start times, but with just 2:30 between starts on Sunday, there is a risk of a delay if things go into overtime. Plan your days out well in advance.

Match #9: vs Cal Poly (4-2-1)

When: Friday, September 16, 2016, at 7:30pm
Where: Valley Fields
Audio/Visual: GoMarquette.com has a free video stream for you, plus there’s live stats.
Special Promotions: Kids with finished scorecards from Fan Fest get in for free, as do MU employees & their families. There’s also free MU coolers for students.
Twitter Updates: @MUWomensSoccer & @cpwomenssoccer

The losses so far this season for the Mustangs: at current #21 Cal and at Washington, which is receiving votes in the most recent NSCAA poll. Can’t blame them there, can you? They don’t have any particularly notable victories on the slate to counter those two losses, but hey: those are the only two losses. When you beat the teams that aren’t getting top 25 votes on your schedule, you’re doing pretty good.

After finishing eighth in the Big West conference a year ago, Cal Poly was picked to finish fifth this season. They had just one player on the preseason all-conference team, senior defender/midfielder Megan Abutin. Even with her mostly defensive assignments as a Mustang, she’s still found time for 14 goals and 20 assists (2nd most all time) in her first three seasons. She’s still sitting on those totals, because she’s only played one match this season. She left the season opener against Cal after 59 minutes and has not returned. Seeing as she averaged over 80 minutes a match last season, I think it’s safe to say that’s an injury.

Sophomore forward Caitlyn Kreutz leads the offensive attack for Cal Poly, as she’s the only player on the squad with multiple goals (2) and multiple assists (2). Five other players have registered a goal this year, and they have six helpers on seven total goals, which is pretty good. Much like Marquette, the Mustangs have a freshman in net. Sophia Brown has played every minute this season, posting a goals-against average of 0.82 and stopping over 78% of shots on goal.

This will be Marquette’s first ever match against Cal Poly.

Match #10: vs Cal State Northridge (3-1-4)

When: Sunday, September 18, 2016, at 1:30pm
Where: Valley Fields
Audio/Visual: GoMarquette.com has a free video stream for you, plus there’s live stats.
Special Promotions: MU employees and 3 family members get in for free.
Twitter Updates: @MUWomensSoccer & @matador_wsoccer

Three straight scoreless draws. Three! Before that, CSUN had 1-0 and 4-0 wins, so it’s been over 480 minutes since the Matadors have given up a goal. All told, they’ve only given up two goals all season while outshooting their opponents by just over four shots a game. Generally speaking, that sounds like a nightmare opponent for Marquette right now.

While Cal Poly was picked to finish fifth, Northridge is the pick to finish third in the Big West this season. Well, tied for third with Cal State Fullerton, but CSUN did get a first place vote while Fullerton didn’t. They also placed two players on the preseason all-conference squad: junior Cynthia Sanchez and senior Kourtney Kutscher.

Those two are faring better than Poly’s Megan Abutin this season. Sanchez set the Matador record for goals in a season last year with 11, and she already has one goal and one assist this season. Kutscher, who has a twin sister and a younger sister on the team with her, has appeared in every match, but has only tallied an assist.

Younger sister Lindsay Kutscher is the CSUN leader in goals, even though she’s a defender. She’s got two markers, while five other players have just one. She’s also tied for the team lead in points with four. Jovani McCaskill has played almost every minute this season in net and thanks to the scoreless streak, her goals-against average is a nearly non-existent 0.23 and she’s stopping more than 94% of shots on net.

This will be Marquette’s first ever match against Cal State Northridge.