The Marquette Golden Eagles will be in Chicago this afternoon playing against the DePaul Blue Demons. They are coming off the 1-0 victory against St. John’s Sunday afternoon and will be looking to continue that momentum. As MU heads into the middle part of the Big East schedule, it’s imperative that they take care of business against a team that they have dominated historically. It will also be a great opportunity to leap-frog DePaul in the Big East standings as the Blue Demons currently sit one spot ahead of them in 4th. Let’s take a look at how the Blue Demons have played so far this season.
Big East Match #4: at DePaul Blue Demons (5-6-1, 1-1-1 Big East)
The DePaul Blue Demons are fresh off a 2-0 victory over the Creighton Bluejays last weekend. I would like to say that every team in the Big East is a tough matchup but the Jays are in last in the Big East and have lost nine of their twelve games this season. That’s definitely a win DePaul expected to get against a weaker Creighton side. The Blue Demons have had some good wins though, most notably against Pepperdine who is currently ranked #18 in the United Soccer Coaches Poll. That’s a big quality win for the Blue Demons...arguably better than any victory Marquette has this season. They’ve also played a tougher schedule than the Golden Eagles facing off against three ranked teams at the time they played them (Northwestern, Texas A&M, and Georgetown). Northwestern has since dropped out of the top 25 while Pepperdine has moved into it. MU has played just one ranked team so far (#2 Stanford), however Wisconsin, Butler, and Milwaukee are all receiving votes.
The Blue Demons’ only bad loss this year came at the feet of Illinois. Other than that, their other losses have come against Louisville, Purdue, and Loyola-Chicago. Purdue is receiving national votes while Loyola-Chicago is riding a seven game win streak. The Blue Demons weren’t messing around when they scheduled their opponents this season. Their Strength of Schedule (SOS) is 52 compared to Marquette’s 93 according to the BennettRank. All this means is that DePaul’s overall record is a bit deceiving and they are going to be a tough out for the Golden Eagles.
DePaul’s leading scorer, Franny Cerny, leads the Big East with seven goals this season. She overtook Emily Kuefler of Villanova and Caitlin Farrell of Georgetown with her two goals in the win against Creighton. A big key to her success has been both the quantity and quality of chances she has taken with 36 shots and 19 of them being on goal. Just to show how good this is, MU’s leading scorer, Darian Powell, has 25 shots with 9 of them being on goal. It would be a great idea to mark Cerny very closely just like they shut down St. John’s leading scorer Christina Bellero last game. They should employ a very similar strategy against Cerny. This will be a more difficult task than against SJU because of Alexa Ben. The 5-foot-even senior has four goals this year and actually boasts a higher shots on goal percentage than Cerny at .630.
What can Marquette do to come away with a road victory? Execute the same gameplan they did against St. John’s. That game, like this game potentially, was a very close contested match. The Golden Eagles did themselves a favor by getting the opening goal in the first half. They need to do that again against the Blue Demons. DePaul adds an extra challenge having two prolific scorers on their team instead of only one. MU can still negate them from getting shots off by having a player hover over them at all times on defense or double-teaming them if they are near the 18-yard box. Something Marquette can exploit in is DePaul’s 9.92 shots per game compared to their mark of 14.2. If the Golden Eagles hold DePaul under 10 shots and shoot around their average they’ll put themselves in great position to get the victory. I also need to mention that DePaul has been held scoreless in all of its losses. If MU can get the first goal, this is something that can be a confidence-booster as the game goes on knowing that DePaul can be shut down.
I know it was early in the season (their very first game) but DePaul did lose to Louisville 2-0 while the Golden Eagles beat the Cardinals by the same scoreline back in late August. I like to bring up when teams play the same opponents as Marquette because it can be used as a measuring stick for the Golden Eagles when preparing for the Blue Demons.
Player Watch: Darian Powell scored her fourth goal of the season against St. John’s bringing her up to 8th all-time on Marquette’s scoring list. She is just three goals away from a 3-way tie for 6th place with six games left on the schedule. While it will be difficult, it’s not completely unlikely for Powell can score once every two games and reach that mark of 25 goals.
The Golden Eagles are reaching the half-way point of Big East play and find themselves 5th in the standings with just 3 points. They really need to pull out this win against DePaul and gain some ground after losing their first two Big East games. A win would put them temporarily in 4th place with Butler whose ahead of them currently with 7 points. The Bulldogs have a tough matchup at Xavier (3-0 Big East) tonight so a Marquette win coupled with a Butler loss puts the Golden Eagles right back in to the thick of things.