Two goals in the first 25 minutes didn’t mean anything for Marquette on Sunday afternoon as they ended up taking a 3-2 loss in overtime to Creighton in the Big East opener for both teams.
It’s the third straight match where the Golden Eagles took a 2-0 lead in the very early going. It’s also the third straight match where Marquette ended up handing that 2-0 lead back to their opponent, as the Jays knotted the match up in the 79th minute. The first two times this happened, Marquette scored a very late goal to steal a victory away. As could be expected when you blow a 2-0 lead for a third consecutive match, Marquette’s luck ran out here.
Things did start out well for Marquette. They got a bit of fancy footwork and a bit of luck to take a 2-0 lead, and it was Carrie Madden and Molly Pfeiffer partnering up to score both times. First it was Madden finding Molly Pfeiffer out in the middle of the park to break the ice:
Here's Molly Pfeiffer's goal again from the 23rd minute to give Marquette a 1-0 lead at Creighton. pic.twitter.com/PuCWQbqk6o— MARQUETTE Soccer (@MUWomensSoccer) September 25, 2016
Then it was Pfeiffer using her head to redirect Meegan Johnston’s corner kick to Madden. The video clips out here, but the referees determined that McKenzie Meola’s bobble did in fact allow the ball to cross the goal line completely, thus giving the Golden Eagles a 2-0 lead early.
WATCH: Carrie Madden gives MU a 2-0 lead at Creighton. She has points in the last three matches. https://t.co/b5puS2KMs7— MARQUETTE Soccer (@MUWomensSoccer) September 25, 2016
Rolling right along, but then Marquette’s defense broke down to allow the Bluejays a glimmer of hope before the first 45 minutes ended. Lauren Sullivan made an outstanding individual effort to stay with the ball, elude Marquette’s defenders, and rap it past keeper Maddy Henry.
Maybe it’s just the high angles at Morrison Stadium, and maybe Sullivan is just faster than Marquette’s back four, but the Golden Eagles defenders appeared to be lackadaisical at best in retreating to cut off Sullivan’s advance. She gains possession of it in MU’s offensive half and no one makes a major move to get back to cover her up.
It was a shorter and quicker version of the same thing on Ashleigh Cearlock’s equalizer in the 79th minute. It was a harsh goal for Marquette to give up, as the announcing crew had just spent some time talking about how MU was suffocating Creighton’s advances in the midfield. That kind of elimination of advance is something that Markus Roeders’ teams used to excel at but has been sorely lacking over the last 2-plus seasons.
To accentuate the point further: Creighton finished regulation with a 10-8 advantage in shots. You might be able to say that “well of course they did, Marquette took a defensive posture for over an hour,” and I get your point, but the best way to make sure that your opponent isn’t scoring is to make sure you have the ball. Getting outshot, even by a slim margin, is the opposite of that.
There were a flurry of shots - two for Marquette, three for Creighton - in the first overtime session, but only one in the second. That one came in the 108th minute, again from Sullivan as Marquette couldn’t contain a saving cross from Kaira Houser nor a deft one touch pass from Darby Hugunin.
The defensive pieces were in place on this one, the passes from Creighton were just one second ahead of Marquette’s reactions.
In our conference preview, we pointed out that there was reason to be encouraged by MU’s 4-4-2 record to this point in the season. The Golden Eagles had played a very tough non-conference schedule, and the positive mindset from that would be that the team is battle tested and ready to make an impact against Big East squads. Instead, we saw a repeat of the defensive breakdowns from last weekend’s Marquette Invitational and it ended up costing them three points in the standings.
Up Next: The Golden Eagles will be back in the Valley for their next match when they host Seton Hall on Thursday night. The Pirates are 4-4-1 on the season after dropping their Big East opener to St. John’s by a final of 1-0.