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Marquette Men’s Soccer Preview: at Butler Bulldogs

The Golden Eagles head to Indianapolis in search of must-needed points in the Big East table.

NCAA Basketball: Xavier at Butler Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Three of Saturday’s Big East matches are completed as we write this preview, and it’s important to point this out as things have somewhat moved around on Marquette men’s soccer due to the results.

Marquette entered the day in fourth place in the Big East with 10 points, but they’ve now dipped down into fifth place. St. John’s picked up a 1-0 road victory over Georgetown in the first match of the day, thus moving the Johnnies to 12 points on the year. That gives them fourth place for now and thus shunted the Golden Eagles down to fifth. Depending on how the Xavier/Seton Hall nightcap goes after this publishes, MU could find themselves in a tie for fifth as both the Musketeers and the Pirates are sitting on seven points. Depending on how that goes, MU could either be holding the fifth or sixth spot, depending on which team would win and the ensuing tiebreakers.

This is important, because only six teams qualify for the Big East tournament every year.

Marquette hasn’t been in the Big East tournament since 2014.

If Marquette wins on Sunday, they’ll have 13 points and will be back in fourth place. St. John’s will be in fifth with 12 points. Either Xavier or Seton Hall could be in sixth with 10 points if one of them wins, or if they draw, both of those teams and DePaul would be tied for sixth with eight points.

That’s all with one match left to play. 13 points can’t be caught by a team with eight points with one match left.

Go ahead and check my math there, but I believe that Marquette will clinch a Big East tournament berth if they win on Sunday.

Kind of a big deal.

Kind of an exciting deal, too.

Big East Match #8: at Butler Bulldogs (4-10-2, 2-5-0 Big East)

Date: Sunday, October 28, 2018
Time: Noon Central
Location: Varsity Field, Indianapolis, IN
Video Streaming: Big East Digital Network on Fox Sports Go
Live Stats: StatBroadcast
Twitter Updates: @marquettesoccer

Marquette is 4-5-0 all time against Butler, but that comes with a teensy asterisk. Said asterisk is because the Bulldogs have won four straight at this point. That’s a bit of a dampener on the day.

Speaking of dampeners on the day, you could say that about Butler’s entire season so far. The Bulldogs started off the season ranked #9 in the country and the preseason pick to win the Big East after finishing the 2017 season with a record of 14-5-2. After a season opening road draw against #4 Akron (that’s fine), BU followed that up with a home loss against Drake (that’s bad), a road win over #16 Western Michigan (that’s good!), and a home loss to Columbia (that’s bad) that kicked off a four match losing streak (that’s really bad). The loss to the Lions is what officially knocked the Bulldogs out of the top 25 for the year, and they obviously have not been back since.

They’ve kind of gotten things turned around in the last two weeks or so, putting up wins over DePaul and Villanova to salvage their way back to six points in league play. Those six points means that for right now, they’re still alive for the Big East tournament. They will need to win this match, though, as they would still stay alive regardless of how Saturday night’s Xavier/Seton Hall match turns out.

If you’re watching Butler soccer this year, you’re almost guaranteed to see multiple goals. they’re letting in two even per match while putting in 1.38 per contest on average. Brandon Guhl is their leading scorer so far, tallying 16 points on a team high six goals and a team high four assists. He actually shares that assists lead with Marco Charalambous, who has played nearly 400 fewer minutes than Guhl. Five guys have scored at least twice for Butler this year, and 11 gentlemen total have put one in the net.

On the other end of the field, it’s been Gabriel Gjergji taking the lion’s share of the minutes in net. The Italian freshman who attended Montverde Academy in Florida has been shaky at best this season. Not only does he have a goals-against average of 1.93, but he’s only stopping 63% of shots on goal. That’s really not great, and it’s actually worse than you think. Gjergji is only facing 5.4 shots on goal per game, so the Butler defense is doing a reasonable job protecting him, considering that they allow 14.6 total shots per game. Marquette is going to have to work to get clean looks at the net, but if Lukas Sunesson and the rest of the offensive corps can find them, the Golden Eagles should be able to pick up the win.