Through two exhibition matches and two regular season matches, there was evidence building that Marquette men’s soccer was coalescing into a solid unit, even with half the roster made up of newcomers. A draw with Green Bay, a road win over a good Loyola-Chicago team, a road overtime loss to Kentucky, a home draw with Illinois-Chicago. Maybe not the best results ever, but if you were head coach Louis Bennett, you had to be pleased with the general direction of your squad.
And then New Mexico blew all of that up with a 4-1 win over the Golden Eagles on Labor Day.
By all accounts, Marquette’s defense failed them in that match. Miscues on the back line had a hand in all of the Lobos’ goals and problems elsewhere on the pitch are evident by way of UNM’s 23-12 shot advantage. Things are not getting easier for the Golden Eagles this season, as Saint Louis might actually be the best team that they’ve played so far, #11 Virginia awaits next week, and Big East play starts a week from today. I can’t say that wholesale changes are the right move for Marquette, but the Golden Eagles are going to need to learn from their issues against New Mexico and shore up things where needed.
A tip of the cap has to be extended to Grant Owens. The Missouri native will be playing against his old team on Saturday night, as he was a Billiken for two seasons. Owens started and played 36 minutes against Marquette in last year’s meeting between the two teams, and he scored his first goal as a Golden Eagle in the loss to New Mexico.
Match #4: vs Saint Louis Billikens (0-3-0)
Date: Saturday, September 9, 2017
Time: 7pm Central
Location: Valley Fields
Television: Yeah, that’s right, TV! Spectrum Sports has the broadcast in Milwaukee.
Streaming: Only if you’re lucky enough to be a Spectrum customer.
Live Stats: GameTracker
Special Promotions: FOOD TRUCKS! It’s International Night in the Valley, so “a variety” of trucks will be at the match to help lend an international flair. FIRST 100 STUDENTS GET A VOUCHER FOR A FREE FOOD ITEM.
Twitter Updates: @marquettesoccer
Marquette is 3-20-2 all time against Saint Louis. No, I’m not kidding. MU started the all time series off with 11 straight losses between 1964 and 1994 before winning two straight in the 1994 Great Midwest Conference tournament and the 1995 regular season. Then it was another eight straight losses. Since 2002, the Golden Eagles have gone 1-1-2 against the Billikens, including last year’s 1-1 draw, so there’s that, I guess.
Okay, look. Yes, Saint Louis has lost all three of their matches this season. Yes, they’ve scored just two goals in the process. These are not good things. But there is an asterisk on the sub-par start to their season: They’ve only played ranked teams. A season opening 2-1 overtime loss to #8 Syracuse, a 2-0 loss to #22 Michigan State, and a 4-1 shellacking at the hands of #2 Wake Forest, all at home. If you’re head coach Mike McGinty, you can’t be terribly upset by the results there. He’s probably not super pleased by his team taking a grand total of two first half shots in three matches, but the three losses themselves can’t be a reason to hang their heads.
Even with the rough start, Saint Louis was still picked to finish second in the Atlantic 10 this season, and they picked up two first place votes along the way. They didn’t place anyone on the preseason all-conference team, which is kind of a shocker, but hey: Preseason favorite Fordham got five of the 11 players. These preseason polls are weird sometimes.
Sascha Otte has played every minute in net so far for SLU, and his stats are not super great as a result. Otte, a native of Germany, is allowing 2.63 goals per 90 minutes and only stopping 64% of shots on goal. I’m going to guess that he’ll improve on both of those numbers after Saturday night’s match.