Well kids, here we are. The first Marquette women’s soccer regular season finale that will double as the season finale since 1993, the inaugural year of the program at the Division 1 level. From 1994 through 2017, Marquette had a conference tournament to play in, whether it was in the Great Midwest Conference, Conference USA, or the Big East. There was always at least one more match left to be played.
Not this year.
Marquette currently has a record of 3-11-3, and after Sunday’s scoreless draw with Creighton, the Golden Eagles are just 1-5-2 in Big East play. That’s just five points this year, and no matter what happens on Thursday night, Marquette won’t finish better than their current spot of ninth in the table. It’s just the second time in program history that Marquette has ever lost 11 matches in a season, and the first time that Marquette has ever suffered five losses in conference play. You’d like to pin the loss total on the Golden Eagles playing a strong non-conference slate this season with six of their nine matches coming against top 100 competition and all of them coming against top 225 teams, at least according to the latest Team Sheets from the NCAA. But that’s not the case, as MU has scuffled against Big East opponents for the first time since The Reformation and against league opponents for the first time ever.
At least the Big East schedule gods have granted Marquette the ability to play 10th place and winless Seton Hall for the season finale. Perhaps MU will at least be able to end the season on a positive note.
That would be the hope at least for Marquette’s seven woman senior class: Ryley Bugay, Leah Celarek, Sloane Carlson, Allison Jacobson, Jamie Kutey, Carrie Madden, and Heather Handwork. It’s been a rough four years, or five for Bugay, Madden, and Handwork. The year before the fifth year seniors arrived on campus, Marquette reached their sixth straight NCAA tournament and won their fifth straight Big East regular season title. Since then, MU has seen just one NCAA tournament appearance and one Big East title. Not everything lasts forever, of course, but things have not gone they way these seven women imagined they would go when they committed and signed to wear the blue and gold.
I presume all seven will be in the starting lineup on Thursday night. All six of the field players saw time against Creighton on Sunday, so they should be ready to go. Carlson has been a backup keeper for almost her entire tenure in Milwaukee, but she deserves the opportunity to get the nod in her final collegiate match.
Big East Match #9: vs Seton Hall Pirates (2-11-4, 0-8-0 Big East)
Marquette is 6-1-1 all time against Seton Hall. The draw came back in 2006 in the first meeting between the two sides, while the loss came in 2015, by a final score of 1-0 with the game winner coming on an own-goal. That’s a harsh way to lose to a team for the first time ever.
Seton Hall has not scored in over 350 minutes. That’s their season in a nutshell, as they’ve managed just seven goals in their 17 contests, while allowing 27. To get to 0-8-0 in Big East play, they’ve scored just twice, coming in back-to-back matches, while allowing the rest of the league to rack up 21 strikes. Providence is the only team that hasn’t scored twice against the Pirates. Here’s another terrible sign for the Pirates: Dani Brinckman leads them in shots this season with 19. She has not recorded a goal or an assist.
Quite honestly, part of Seton Hall’s struggles this season can be found in their lineup regularity. Only six women have played in all 17 matches, while only two have started all 17. Don’t get me wrong here, there’s a lot of 16s and 15s and 14s in their “games played” column. But some of those are players have played fewer than 500 of Seton Hall’s 1,600+ minutes on the season, so while they might be regulars in the rotation, they’re not really consistent options.
I guess if you’re looking for good news, it’s that keeper Anna MacLean is one of the two who has started every match. Her goals-against average of 1.51 is a bit assisted by the four draws that Seton Hall had in non-conference play, as she’s been letting in 2.65 per 90 minutes in Big East action. Her season long saver percentage of .750 is pretty respectable given SHU’s record, but it drops to .632 against conference opponents.