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Big East Women’s Soccer Tournament First Round Preview: #4 Marquette vs #5 Xavier

Remind me...what happened the last time these two teams played?

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Marquette Golden Eagles will host Xavier at Valley Fields in the first round of the Big East Tournament. Let’s get excited about this match-up by looking back at what Darian Powell did to Xavier in overtime just two weeks ago:

It was a great win for Marquette that needed those three points at the time to keep pace with the teams ahead of them. The Musketeers had started Big East play unbeaten before losing against Marquette. The Golden Eagles sparked a rough stretch for Xavier as they have lost two of their last three games since the October 14 game. Xavier dropped back-to-back games to St. John’s and Georgetown to close out their season. Meanwhile, MU has won two straight and are the hottest team in the Big East with their two game win streak. The Musketeers only have one road win all season against Villanova. It’s safe to say that things stack up nicely for the Golden Eagles.

Big East Tournament First Round: vs Xavier Musketeers (8-7-4, 4-3-2 Big East)

Date: Sunday, October 29, 2017
Time: 1pm Central
Location: Valley Fields
Streaming: Big East Digital on Fox Sports Go
Live Stats: GameTracker
Twitter Updates: @MUWomensSoccer

The Xavier Musketeers have backed their way into the Big East tournament only managing one win in their last six games. This doesn’t mean that MU should take them lightly because it is the Big East tournament and Xavier has a lot of offensive firepower. Four of their players have scored three or more goals. This includes forward Sydney Schembri who was named to the Big East All-Freshmen Team on Saturday. She leads the team in goals (6) and points (12). The Golden Eagle defense will definitely look to shut her down early and make her uncomfortable on the ball. Tori Doss and Emma Westwater have also been key aspects of the XU attack with four goals each. Doss received a regular season award as well named to the Big East second team.

Xavier goalkeeper Toni Bizzaro has played exceptionally well in goal with a goals against average of 0.62 in Big East play. She has a save percentage of .843 which ranks third in the Big East. This, combined with her 102 saves (second in the Big East), is a major reason why all of the Musketeers’ Big East games have been decided by one goal or less. If you look at the bigger picture, all but two of Xavier’s regular season games have been decided by one goal or less. That’s just incredible. The Musketeer defense also deserves recognition for how well they’ve protected Bizzaro, epecially the play of senior defender Carly Alfano that has earned her a spot on the Big East Second Team. Even though the Golden Eagles come into this match with some momentum, this is going to be a close, tightly fought battle that will come down to which team can stay focused and avoid costly errors throughout the match.

Marquette has some firepower of their own with forwards Carrie Madden and Darian Powell leading the way for the Golden Eagles. Madden is the team points leader at 17 with a career-high seven goals and three assists. Her attacking play has earned her a spot on the Big East First Team. Powell is second on the team in points with 14 netting five goals and four assists. She has scored a lot of goals like the one she headed in last time out against Xavier with four of her five being game-winners. The senior striker has delivered when the Golden Eagles have needed her the most. MU likely wouldn’t be in the post-season without Powell’s clutch performances. As good as the Musketeer defense has been, they have allowed 14 second half goals this season. MU will look to exploit that with their heavy propensity to come alive in the second half scoring 16 of their 24 goals in the second period or overtime.

MU goalkeeper Maddy Henry has been a big reason for the Golden Eagles’ success with nine shutouts this season. That’s good enough for #2 in the Big East. She’s also top 5 in the Big East in both saves (93) and save percentage (.830). All of Marquette’s Big East wins have been via the shutout. In her game against Xavier earlier this month, Henry made six saves to preserve the clean sheet. The Golden Eagles will win this game if they can limit Xavier’s chances in the first half and get the first goal. MU has not lost this season after netting the first goal. In fact, they have only given up one goal after scoring first (2-1 win vs Kentucky).

Make sure to come out to Valley Fields and see the Golden Eagles back in the Big East Tournament.