Marquette has played five straight high quality halves of soccer after losing their first two matches of the year, going 2-0-1 in their last three matches, including a 1-1 draw with #22 Santa Clara on Thursday night. The Golden Eagles get a very tough test of how far they’ve come so far this season when they roll in to Palo Alto on Sunday afternoon. Maybe they lose, which wouldn’t be surprising against this particular Cardinal team. Hopefully they can continue their strong play, though, which, if we’re lucky, could turn into a positive result against a top five team for what I believe would be the first time in program history.
Marquette does have some mild questions about their offense to answer. Since being shutout by Kansas in the second match of the season, MU has scored five straight goals off of set pieces. You’ll take goals wherever you can get them, of course, but when the Big East’s Preseason Defensive Player of the Year is leading the team in goals (Morgan Proffitt, 2), which also gives her the lead in points through five matches, you start to get a little anxious. Making things slightly more anxious is freshman Emily Hess coming up from her left back spot to sit in second place on the team in points thanks to a goal and an assist. She’s got the exact same scoring so far this year as forward Molly Pfeiffer, so that’s not too bad.
The point here, though, is that Marquette is going to need to get some production from their forwards at some point. Relying on your defense to come through on set pieces when they can play towards the net is a long and tiresome process, while goals in the run of play will eventually open things up for potentially more set pieces for MU to excel at down the road. Liz Bartels has a goal this season, as does Darian Powell, who has only played 119 minutes while working her way back from offseason ankle surgery. Both women will need to keep working to get the Golden Eagles on the board, as both players were expected to provide pop for this lineup.
Match #6: at #2 Stanford (4-0-0)
When: Sunday, September 4, 2016, at 3pm CT
Where: Cagan Stadium in Stanford, CA
Audio/Visual: Pac-12.com will be carrying a live video stream of the game, plus there’s live stats.
Twitter Updates: @MUWomensSoccer & @StanfordWSoccer
This will be just the second meeting between the two teams. Stanford took the first one by a final of 5-0 as part of an event hosted by Santa Clara back in 2004.
After being knocked out of last year’s NCAA tournament in the Elite Eight by way of penalty kicks, Stanford has started off this year nearly perfect. They’ve given up just two goals in four matches, with both goals allowed coming late in a game where the Cardinal had already taken a 2-0 lead. To give you an idea of what they’re capable of this season, they’ve already beaten Big East favorite Georgetown 3-0, and that one was at Shaw Field in Washington, D.C.
Stanford was 10-0-1 in Pac-12 play last year, and somehow, they’re nowhere near the unanimous preseason pick to win the league this year. They got six of the possible 11 first place votes, since head coach Paul Ratcliffe couldn’t vote for his own squad. Those six first place votes was enough to power them to the top of the coaches’ poll, however, with their 116 points just barely edging out USC’s 112 points.
Jordan DiBiasi and Kyra Carusa are tied for the team lead in goals with two each. Carusa pulled even with DiBiasi after scoring the opening goal against Wisconsin on Thursday night. Andi Sullivan, who had the penalty kick game winner against the Badgers, is the team leader in assists with three, but that’s nearly by default since Stanford only has four assists as a team. Marquette’s defense will have to be particularly ready to go, as the Cardinal are outshooting their opponents by more than 11 shots per game. They aren’t particularly precise, though, as less than half their shots are on goal.
Jane Campbell has played all but 16 minutes this season for Stanford, giving way only in the closing part of the match against Georgetown. She’s allowing just 0.52 goals per 90 minutes, and she’s stopping 78% of shots on goal.