After suffering a 1-0 setback against Xavier last time out, Marquette’s back is kind of against the wall at this point in the season.
From a certain point of view, it’s a good thing that just six points are separating third place and 10th place in the Big East with three matches left to go in the season. It means the league is highly competitive, and that can’t be a bad thing. On the flip side, it means that the standings can (and probably will) get incredibly volatile over the next week.
As things stand right now, Marquette is clinging to the sixth and final spot in the Big East tournament with seven points. They trail third place St. John’s by three points, but have just a one point lead over a three-way tie of Providence, Villanova, and Seton Hall in seventh place. Things could go a lot of different ways just based on Wednesday’s results, and that’s before I even mention that MU trails their Thursday opponent by just one point in the standings.
The important point is that Marquette needs to strike while the iron is hot here. They are being given the chance to keep Creighton in check while moving up the standings. This opportunity can not be taken lightly as Marquette is looking to get back to the conference tournament for the first time in three seasons.
However, they’re going to need a better performance than what they delivered on Saturday against Xavier. The Musketeers outshot the Golden Eagles 16-10 overall and 10-3 in the first half. That’s not good, especially since the match was a prime opportunity for Marquette to latch themselves solidly to a Big East tournament berth. It wouldn’t have clinched, of course, but they kind of really needed the win. Now they absolutely need the win, because depending on six points from matches against both Butler and DePaul sounds like a really stressful way to go through life.
Perhaps Marquette will get a boost from the return of Martin Alba to the lineup. The redshirt junior missed nine matches this season before popping off the bench against Xavier for 30 or so minutes of action. Alba has been a stalwart starting lineup presence for the Golden Eagles when healthy, and they could really use the boost right now.
Big East Match #7: vs Creighton Bluejays (8-4-2, 2-2-2 Big East)
Date: Wednesday, October 25, 2017
Time: 7pm Central
Location: Valley Fields
Streaming: Big East Digital Network on Fox Sports Go
Live Stats: GameTracker
Special Promotions: IT’S WING WEDNESDAY! The first 200 students in attendance get CHICKEN WINGS from Pizza Hut/Wing Street.
Twitter Updates: @marquettesoccer
Marquette is 6-6-0 all time with Creighton, but The Reformation has not been treating the Golden Eagles well. While Marquette got the win in the first Big East meeting between the two clubs, Creighton has taken the victory in each of the last three seasons.
Creighton comes in unbeaten in their last four matches, and they’ve outscored their opponents 12-4 in those contests. We should, however, provide a couple of fine tuning notes there. First: Their record is 2-0-2, and one of the draws was stopped in the 81st minute due to lightning. Second: The Bluejays beat Drake 6-1, and then beat Xavier 4-1. Good for them, y’know, but that’s kind of 10 of their 12 goals in the middle two matches. In their most recent outing, Creighton outshot Providence 17-9, but could only put six of those shots on goal, and all of those were saved by the PC keeper. Yes, they’re coming off of a scoreless draw. Wooooooo.
Marquette’s next two matches will provide the Golden Eagles with perhaps their sternest defensive tests of the season. Creighton’s Ricky Lopez-Espin is tied for Butler’s Brandon Guhl for the most points (20) and the most goals (9), and will likely give the MU defense all kinds of fits on Wednesday night. To wit: Lopez-Espin is one of just two Big East players with at least 50 shots already, which is more than 3.5 per game. Marquette’s defense has had a number of notable lapses this season that has led directly to opponent’s scoring a goal, so the Golden Eagles will need to be very alert to shut down Lopez-Espin.
Michael Kluver has started all but one of Creighton’s matches this season, with Collin Valdivia gettin the nod in what turned into that rainshorted game up in New York. Kluver allows less than a goal per 90 minutes and his .761 save percentage is fourth best in the Big East this season.