Marquette men’s soccer is currently 0-5-1 on the season and 0-1-0 in Big East play. This is the worst start for the team under head coach Louis Bennett, dating back to when he started at MU in 2006. Please remember: it took until 2010 (8-8-5) for Bennett to finish a season with a record of .500 or better, and this is still the worst start to a season.
You can safely say that defense has been the primary problem for the Golden Eagles. They had a 1-0 lead against Villanova and couldn’t buckle down and swipe a win from the Wildcats. Each of VU’s three goals can easily be described in a manner that points to a clear defensive lapse of some kind. This is a repetitive refrain through all six matches this season. Something goes wildly wrong in the close defense that leads to conceding a goal. Brendan Ploen over at the Marquette Wire talked to the players and the coaches about it, and even included a couple of schmancy GIFs to elaborate on MU’s woes. Is part of the problem playing two freshmen, a transfer, and a sophomore on the defensive back line? Yeah, probably. Preseason practice also started over a month ago, so it’s not like Manuel Cukaj and Steffen Böhm just met yesterday.
While there are clear problems with the defense, the offense isn’t helping matters out all that much. Marquette currently ranks dead last in the Big East in points, goals, assists, and shots. They’re the only team in the league averaging less than a goal per game as well as less than an assist per game. The shots thing is a little misleading, as they’re seventh in shots per game. That’s still not super great, although someone has to be seventh.
The close defense has its own issues to work out, but the guys playing in Marquette’s attacking third can make keeper Luis Barraza’s life a whole lot easier by being able to at least tilt the field in the other direction. MU is getting outshot by nearly two tries per game so far this year. It wouldn’t be a wonder cure, but if the Golden Eagles can focus on merely outshooting opponents - because the other team can’t shoot if you’re shooting - it would start to protect the defense a little bit.
When you’re winless in six tries, every little bit can help.
Big East Match #2: vs Seton Hall Pirates (3-5-1, 0-1-0 Big East)
Date: Saturday, September 23, 2017
Time: 7pm Central
Location: Valley Fields
Live Stats: GameTracker
Special Promotions: Students who attend volleyball at 6 and soccer at 7 get a FREE CAMO BUCKET HAT. Students at this game can win one of five Marquette Madness VIP packages OR men’s basketball season tickets. Plus, it’s summer camp reunion night, where all campers get in free if they wear their shirt. AND Kids Club parents get in for $2. AND all youth soccer players get in for $2 if they wear their team jersey. Wow, that’s a lot of stuff.
Twitter Updates: @marquettesoccer
This will be the 13th all-time meeting between the two squads with Marquette holding a narrow 5-4-3 advantage. MU’s strength in the matchup has come since 2010, with a record of 5-1-1 since then. However, it’s just 1-1-1 in the last three, including a 2-0 loss to the Pirates in South Orange last season.
It’s been 11 days since SHU’s Andres Arcila was named National Player of the Week by United Soccer Coaches. The senior from Colombia had nine points in three matches during the previous week, including game winning goals against Princeton and Penn, both by way of free kicks. The Princeton won was especially snazzy, as it came in in double overtime after Seton Hall had rallied from down 3-0 to tie it with two seconds left in regulation. I’d show you highlights, but Princeton is one of those jerk programs that only puts their goals in highlight packages.
I bring this up because Seton Hall hasn’t won a match since. In fact, they went nearly 250 minutes without scoring a goal, getting shutout by Delaware and St. John’s before breaking through in the 67th minute against Lehigh. That goal by Gabriel Viola was already a case of too little, too late, as the Mountain Hawks were already up 2-0 and they tacked one on in the 75th minute as well.
So yeah, not great times for the Pirates. You hate to assign too much value to one particular game on the slate, but this one carries some weight for both teams. Marquette is looking for their first win of the season, but Seton Hall is currently tied with MU as well as Georgetown and Creighton in the basement of the Big East. Sure, it’s just 0-1-0, but there’s only six conference tournament slots. If Seton Hall (or for that matter Marquette) wants to play some postseason soccer, grabbing three points in this game will be crucial.
Arcila is obviously Seton Hall’s points leader so far this season. However, the midfielder has only scored one goal outside of the three matches that won him Player of the Week honors: a first half buzzer beater that equalized the match at one each against Saint Peters back on August 25th in the season opener for Seton Hall. Take ‘em where you can get ‘em, of course, but Arcila has not been a steady producer.
Last week, in the league overview, I pointed out that Seton Hall’s goalkeeping situation was a mess. Things have not gotten much clearer. Steven Catudal has started the two matches since then, so you’d think that would make it obvious that he’s the man right now. However, head coach Gerson Echeverry lifted Catudal for Elliot Munford about 10 minutes after Catudal gave up the third goal to Lehigh last time out. That meant Munford played the final seven minutes of the game, but I’m not quite sure why you make that move if Catudal is your guy. I would like to remind you that Munford was the goalie for all three of SHU’s wins this season, even if those wins were powered by Arcila’s outburst.