Well, it seemed like it was inevitable for a while now, and here we are.
Marquette women’s soccer has nine losses in a season for the first time in 23 seasons under head coach Markus Roeders. That’s bad. The defense has not been up to the challenge, no matter how strong the non-conference schedule was this season, and the offense has struggled mightily to put the ball in the net.
The only thing that’s really working in their favor is Maddy Henry’s goalkeeping, and even that’s not statistically fantastic. She’s making 5.5 saves per game on average and she’s the only netminder in the league north of 70 saves on the season. She’s been asked to carry a gigantic load for the Golden Eagles, and while she’s been fighting mightily to do it, Henry’s save percentage of just .778 isn’t particularly good.
That brings us to Sunday afternoon, where MU looks to improve on their 1-3-1 Big East record. With just four matches left to play, Marquette has four points in league action, but that has them in ninth place. Out of 10. Where only the top six qualify for the conference tournament. The good news, such as it is, comes to us in the fact that there’s a four-way tie for fourth place at seven points. Now, of course, things can shift quickly as everyone else plays as well, but one of the four squads in the tie is Sunday’s opponent, the Musketeers of Xavier. It’s a small thing, of course, but if Marquette can just pull even with Xavier, it’s a step towards finding enough points in their final four matches — or perhaps just three since undefeated Georgetown comes to town on Thursday night — to fight their way into the conference tournament.
This is already going to be Roeders’ worst season on record in terms of losses on the board. There’s nothing to be done about that now. All Marquette can do is salvage something positive out of this, and that’s reeling in a Big East tourney berth. This is a little bit more important than you realize: Marquette has qualified for every single conference tournament since joining the Big East. The Golden Eagles find themselves on the brink of snapping that streak if they don’t rack up points quickly.
Big East Match #6: at Xavier Musketeers (8-6-1, 2-2-1 Big East)
Marquette is a perfect 7-0-0 throughout history against Xavier. They met just one time before The Reformation, back in 2005, with MU winning in Cincinnati in overtime by a score of 2-1. That goal by the Musketeers is the only goal that XU has ever scored against Marquette, as the Golden Eagles have recorded six straight shutouts, including twice just 15 days apart last season.
Xavier’s double overtime win over DePaul last week Sunday is the difference between Marquette and the Musketeers in the standings, and it came at a pretty solid time for XU. they had been winless in their previous two matches, and in three of their last four. Since y’all can do simple math, you can tell that Big East action has not been kind to Xavier. Even with that being the case, they still fought Butler, the team currently in second place, to a scoreless draw on October 4th, so it’s not all bad for them.
Samantha Dewey picked up the game winner against the Blue Demons off a penalty kick (that is just the absolute worst way to lose in double OT), giving her a team high six goals on the season. She also leads the way with four assists, meaning the PA announcer has had to say Dewey’s name on 10 of Xavier’s 21 goals on the season. I’m going to go ahead and say that marking her is going to be very important for Marquette.
Toni Bizzarro will almost assuredly get the nod in net for this match after picking up starts in all but three of XU’s matches this season. Her goals-against average of 1.02 is pretty good, but that’s more of a diagnosis of the defense in front of her. Bizzarro has only stopped 81% of shots on goal, so if MU can get chances, they should be able to find a way to beat her.