Well, we knew this day would come. After winning every single game in the series, the Marquette Golden Eagles lost their first ever game to the Villanova Wildcats on Thursday night. They are now 8-1 against the Wildcats all-time. It came at the worst possible time too as MU is now in the midst of a four game winless streak. They have allowed nine goals in the last three games after allowing only six in their previous nine games. Before this game, legitimate arguments could be made for the Golden Eagles inability to come out victorious. Illinois State... was a fluke. Milwaukee... was just too hot, undefeated, and hadn’t allowed a goal. Butler...was riding a seven game win streak and had a top 25 win on their resume and had allowed just one goal all season. This game though...no way to sugarcoat it. Simply put, an all-around disappointing performance from the Golden Eagles.
It’s easy to see what went wrong for Marquette in this game, starting with their collective inability to get off to a good start. I sound like a broken record at this point but they have given up the first goal in their last three games...and have lost all those games. It’s not the recipe for success for a Markus Roeders side that has NEVER started conference play 0-2 since joining the Big East, but that’s now where they find themselves. The first VU goal came in the 18th minute off the head of defender Emily Kuefler. It was actually the first of her two goals in the game. She netted another one to close VU’s scoring in the 69th minute. Hmm why does that name sound so familiar?? Oh, that’s right... because I warned MU should pay close attention to her in my preview. She happens to be the Wildcats’ leading scorer now with six this season and has continued her ferocious attacking prowess coming out of Nova’s back line, or at least Villanova keeps insisting that she’s a defender. The other VU goals came in the 51st and 59th minute courtesy of Kristen Barbour and Amanda Vocelka.
Hey, wait, the Golden Eagles got a goal, so at least there’s a silver lining right? Not really...the goal was an own goal in the 83rd minute that bounced off a VU defender after Erin Johnston sent in a corner kick. Marquette did a decent job forcing VU into corner kick situations, holding an 8-2 corner kick advantage over VU in the game. That’s simply a byproduct of pushing to get back into the game. It may seem like I’m being very critical of Marquette but it’s hard not to be. They have gotten into some bad habits lately and have not been playing up to their standards. Their only real goal in their last four games was a late Kylie Sprecher score to avoid the shutout against UWM. The Golden Eagles have to find a way to re-ignite their attack. They had 10 shots against VU but only one on target. This does not count an Eli Beard shot that hit the crossbar in the 20th minute and a few more that went inches over the crossbar. Regardless, one shot on target simply won’t cut it anymore because they are struggling in more areas than one. They not only need to kick-start their offense, they also need to get off to faster starts (which really means not allowing a goal in the first half), and they need to close the gaps defensively to stop teams from getting dangerous opportunities to score.
That is a lot of improvements that coach Roeders will need to make in a short period of time. But this team is capable of playing dominant soccer. We’ve seen it when they won seven straight games and we saw it last season when they were the regular season champs. A good sign for MU was that Carrie Madden played 30 minutes after not traveling to the Butler game last weekend. Freshmen defender Maddie Monticello made her first start of the year and got 69 minutes of action. We’ll see the ever-important starting line-up that coach Roeders puts on the field in a must-win game against St. Johns on Sunday.
Up Next: Time to get back in the win column when they travel to St. Johns for a noon start on Sunday. The Red Storm are 5-5-1 on the season and 1-1-0 in Big East action after beating Creighton 1-0 in double overtime on Thursday night. It’s a little less impressive than it sounds, as Creighton lost one of their starting forwards to a red card in the 87th minute.