Well, I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news.
The bad news is that even if Marquette wins on Wednesday afternoon in Chicago, they still might miss the Big East tournament. The Golden Eagles are currently tied for sixth place in the league, and only the top six teams get in. If MU finishes in a tie for the sixth and final spot, there’s a chance they could be left on the outside looking in for the third straight season.
The good news is that Marquette is playing DePaul on Wednesday, and DePaul is currently in last place in the Big East.
This is not to say that things will be easy. Marquette comes in at 3-4-1 in league play, and they had to go 2-2-1 in their last five to get there. Sure, maybe that shows a sign of things turning around late in the season for the Golden Eagles, but if you’ve been paying attention all year long, nothing has gone well for long stretches for Marquette.
Even the high point of the season — Luka Prpa recording an assist on all four Marquette goals against Creighton — had its down moment. Sure, leading 4-0 after you’ve played an hour is great, but giving back three of those goals in the next 30 minutes is also not great.
Defense has been a concern all season for Marquette, specifically their close-in defense. The Golden Eagles have repeatedly looked disjointed and out of rhythm and position when the ball has come inside the 18 yard box. Part of this has been injuries causing a variety of guys forming up the back line, not to mention inconsistency in who is actually manning the net, and part of it has just been straight up inexperience, or at the very least, the guys on the field being unfamiliar with playing with each other.
Now everyone’s backs are against the wall, though, and it will take a full team effort to drag three points out of Lincoln Park. Can they do it? Sure. Even if they do, will they qualify for the Big East tournament? Maybe not. Better have the three points than not, though, especially with MU playing in the first game of the final match day of the season.
Big East Match #9: at DePaul Blue Demons (4-11-2, 1-6-1 Big East)
In what is a slight rarity for Marquette in their long term rivalries, the Golden Eagles hold a 25-5-1 all time record against the Blue Demons. However, that’s the full run of the series, and doesn’t give you a solid picture of the last decade or so. Marquette is just 3-5-0 in the last eight meetings, all of which have come since 2004. That’s largely because of three straight wins, though, and MU has won three out of the last five. Each of the last three outings has been a shutout victory for the winner, including last year’s 1-0 Marquette win. This is the fifth consecutive season that Marquette has closed the regular season with a match against DePaul.
Here’s the deal with DePaul. They’re dead last in the league in points, dead last in goals per game, dead last in assists per game (the only team averaging less than one per game). On the other end, they’re leading the league in saves (generally speaking, that means you’re allowing way too many shots on goal, so it’s bad) and — SURPRISE — they’re leading the league in fouls per game.
Guess what? I hate playing DePaul. They’re always leading the league in fouls. 15 fouls per game! That’s nuts! That’s a foul every six minutes! Who wants to watch that?
DePaul comes into this one winless in their last seven, and they’ve only scored a goal in two of those matches. Two came in a 2-2 draw with Loyola-Chicago, and another came in a 2-1 loss at Seton Hall, the first match in this run. That means, yes, they haven’t scored against a Big East opponent in over 425 minutes of action thanks to a shutout loss to Northwestern in the middle of their winless streak.
Even with that streak, Marquette has two guys that they’re going to have to keep an eye on. Phillipp Konigstein has tallied six goals on the season, and Stijn Van der Slot has put it in the net five times. That’s 11 of DePaul’s 17 goals right there, and that’s more than enough of their offense to keep eyes pointed their way. The Blue Demons have 14 assists on those goals, but they spread those helpers out a lot. Istvan Wilhelms has four assists to lead DePaul, but nine different players have at least one assist.
Quentin Low will get the start in net, just like he has all season. He’s allowing nearly a goal and a half per 90 minutes, so he can be gotten to with relative ease. The issue is maintaining possession to keep firing at DePaul. The Blue Demons are actually outshooting opponents, 233-212, this season, so it will be paramount to merely cut off DePaul’s flow on offense to get three points from them.