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Marquette Women’s Soccer Preview: at Butler Bulldogs

A chance to jump back into the top 25 would also put the Golden Eagles atop the Big East table.

Photo by Craig Jones/Getty Images

The previously #19 ranked Marquette women’s soccer team dropped out of the top 25 after a tough weekend in which they drew 0-0 to Illinois State and lost to UWM 2-1. The good news for the Golden Eagles is that they can give the voters a reason to put them back in the top 25 if they come up with a win in Indianapolis on Sunday. Butler is unofficially ranked #31 in the United Soccer Coaches Poll (UCS) with 19 votes. The Golden Eagles are just one spot behind them at #32 with 16 votes. Let’s take a look at what this Bulldogs team has done this season.

Big East Match #1: at Butler Bulldogs (7-1-1)

Date: Sunday, September 24, 2017
Time: 12pm Central
Location: Butler Bowl, Indianapolis, IN
Streaming: The Big East Digital Network on Fox Sports Go
Live Stats: Stat Broadcast Live
Twitter Updates: @MUWomensSoccer

The Butler Bulldogs are coming off a 10-0 dismantling of Chicago State. Granted, the Cougars are a terrible team with a 1-10 record and have lost eight straight games with none of their losses being close. To put it in perspective, the Cougars are ranked #330 in D1 according to the BennettRank. That is juuuust about dead last in Division 1 soccer with only three teams behind them in the rankings. It’s no surprise that Butler beat them by that much. It would have been concerning if they didn’t score at least 10 goals on the Cougars considering teams like Campbell have put nine past them this season.

Unfortunately for the Golden Eagles, Butler is the hottest team in the Big East winners of seven straight. In all of their victories during their win streak they have shutout their opponents. What’s the catch? Aside from the Chicago State game, they have yet to beat opponents by more than two goals. All their wins have been relatively close games. That’s really the only “weakness” I could find with a team that has otherwise dominated this season. They have only given up one goal all year, which came in their only loss this season to Ohio. They are shooting an average of 15.2 shots per game which is about five more than their opponents. All of their wins have come via the shutout. They have also beaten then #10 ranked Texas A&M and drew 0-0 to then #18 Notre Dame. They are deservedly #31 in the United Soccer Coaches Poll. I’m not using the BennettRank here because it has them at #74. Even 4-5 DePaul is in front of them at #52 for some reason. BennettRank seems to use more algorithms and such to determine rankings but I got to disagree with them on this one. I’m a big fan of the eye test and Butler enters Big East play as the hottest team.

With the amount of success the Bulldogs have had so far this season, they don’t really have a star player that carries their team. For the Golden Eagles, it’s fair to say that they count heavily on Carrie Madden’s ability to create and score goals, especially given their recent struggles with Madden out of the lineup. Butler does not have a player with double-digit points this season. Their top two goalscorers are Caitlyn DiSarcina and Halle Stelbasky with four and three goals apiece. Other than that no other Bulldogs player has scored more than a goal. However, 13 different Bulldogs have gotten on the score-sheet this season. That’s a credit to their overall teamwork and unselfishness on the attack. This makes them a very hard team to defend because you can’t just focus on one or two players on defense and you never know where the attack will be coming from. The Bulldogs will be a big test for Marquette come Sunday.

What can the Golden Eagles do to come away with a win?

Possession, possession, possession. They have to control the tempo of the game in the early going. In their last two games they have been out shot by their opponents in the first half. They do not want to get into situations where they have to play defense for long stretches of the game, especially against a Butler team that’s riding high with confidence after scoring 10 goals on Thursday night. Clinical finishing has been a problem for the Golden Eagles of late so hopefully they can get the trio of Madden, Darian Powell, and Kylie Sprecher involved early in the game. Madden’s return to play will also help boost the Golden Eagle attack that’s been somewhat dormant the last two games.

I can’t stress enough how important this game is for Marquette. Even this early in the season, these games have serious tournament implications. A win against Butler will keep them hovering around the top 25 and will improve their all important Strength of Schedule. A loss will really hurt the Golden Eagles because they’ll probably only have one more opportunity to beat a top 100 team when they play Georgetown. MU has to take advantage of this opportunity to keep those voters debating on whether or not include them in the top 25. As I mentioned earlier, the Golden Eagles are currently #32 with 16 votes according to USC. A win against the Bulldogs will more than likely result in overtaking them in the rankings. It’s going to be a really tough match, no doubt. But I think Marquette can give themselves the best chance to win if they can control the tempo early and create quality chances on offense.