Four matches remaining in the regular season for Marquette men’s soccer, and in terms of qualifying for the Big East tournament, they control their own fate.
Through five matches, MU is in a three-way tie for fourth place in the Big East with seven points. That three-way covers the three final spots in the conference tournament, as only the top six squads qualify. They’re joined in the tie by St. John’s, the losing side in Marquette’s last match, and Xavier, the team they’ll face on Saturday night. Win, and even if that tie continues onwards this season, the Golden Eagles will hold the tiebreaker advantage against both squads. You never know how the tiebreaker might end up useful later, so it’s pretty important to pick it up when given the chance.
With all 10 teams in action on Saturday, if Marquette picks up three points from Xavier, at worst, they’ll still be tied for fourth place with St. John’s. At best, they’ll be in a three-way tie for third place with the Johnnies and Georgetown. That’s a pretty solid place to be standing with matches still to go against DePaul and Butler, both of whom are scraping along in the back end of the league table this season.
Marquette should be in a solid position to earn those three points. Steffen Bohm will be returning from a red card suspension that he served against St. John’s last week Saturday, and that will bolster MU’s defensive corps. Head coach Louis Bennett went with a back line of Patrick Seagrist, Leo Villa, and Oliver Posarelli last time out, with Zak Wegner playing a defensively minded midfielder spot and Ruben Sanchez coming off the bench in relief. It’s unclear of freshman center back Josh Hancock will be available against Xavier, so the return of Bohm will go a long way towards helping keeper Luis Barraza. Even with St. John’s playing with 10 men for the final 25 minutes last week, the Red Storm still generated four shots in that timeframe, three of which had to be saved by Barraza. Sure, MU was playing with a two goal lead for the first save and a three goal margin for the other two, but when you’re literally outmanning the other side, putting your keeper in a position to have to make three saves while you’re parking the bus isn’t super great.
Big East Match #6: vs Xavier Musketeers (3-5-5, 2-2-1 Big East)
In a series that dates back to 1987, Marquette is 5-3-0 all time against Xavier. The Golden Eagles won the first four matches in the series, three of which came before The Reformation. Since both sides were a member of the Big East, the advantage has been Xavier’s, with MU holding a record of 2-3-0.
Xavier will try and tell you that they’re 4-5-5 on the season. This is a lie. They’re counting a 6-0 blanking of Cincinnati Christian University in that record, and CCU is an NAIA squad. Not happening, dorks. I’m not giving you credit for the win and I’m not giving you credit for the goals scored here, either.
As could be expected from a team that’s trying to fake their way into a win on the record, things have been a scuffle this season for Xavier, especially lately. A fifth minute goal in a 1-0 win against Villanova is the only thing standing between them and an eight match winless streak right now. Thanks to the win over the Wildcats, it’s only a three match winless streak after getting dumped 2-1 in overtime at Western Michigan on Tuesday afternoon. The wild part about all of this is that before this 1-5-2 run that they’re on, the Musketeers scored three second half goals to knock off a Georgetown squad that was earning national poll votes at the time. All downhill from there, though.
If you ignore the six goals that they’re lying about, Xavier’s been outscored 19-14 on the season. In a way, it’s kind of impressive that they’re 3-5-5. Sergi Samson has the real team lead in goals this season, as all four of his markers have come against D1 foes and we have to ignore three of Simen Hestnes’ six goals since they came against CCU. While we have to discount his goals, Hestnes’ team high five assists on the season are all real, which still gives him the team lead in points this season.
Zachary Nelson has been the keeper for 10 of Xavier’s matches this season, however it’s been Colin Hanley in net for the last four contests. If you toss out his 46 scoreless minutes against Cincinnati Christian, Hanley has a goals-against average of 1.47 this season and a save percentage of just 50%. Look, if Marquette can’t score goals against this Xavier defense, they probably don’t deserve a Big East tournament spot.