Marquette Golden Eagles men’s soccer punched their ticket to the 2018 Big East tournament on Sunday afternoon with a 2-1 win over Butler. It will be MU’s first appearance in the conference tournament since 2014, so that’s a big deal.
However, Marquette’s work is not quite done. They still need to close out the regular season here with a win to clinch a home game in the Big East quarterfinals. There’s a few other scenarios at play which you can read about over this way, but let’s focus on this primary issue: Win and clinch playing your first Big East tourney game at home.
While MU needs to win tonight to do that, they’re going to be without senior starting goalkeeper Luis Barraza, and yes, it is Senior Night as well. Barraza ate a straight red card early in the second half against Butler on Sunday, and by rule, he has to be suspended for the next game. Barraza has been great in his final year of collegiate eligibility and has quite honestly been responsible for a lot of Marquette getting to where they are this season.
He just won’t be playing in this game.
That job will fall to freshman Cedrik Stern, who gave up a penalty kick goal immediately after being thrust into Sunday’s match thanks to Barraza’s red card, but otherwise stood his ground and prevented the Bulldogs from leveling the match. He’ll need to repeat that kind of performance on Wednesday night if the Golden Eagles want to be playing at home again over the weekend.
The key will be doing Stern a favor on the other end of the pitch. Marquette’s two goals on Sunday were both the result of a lucky bounce. MU deserves credit for making the most of the bounces, but the fact of the matter is that the bounces happened. The Golden Eagles can’t depend on catching breaks against a Blue Demons squad that will assuredly be playing with the intensity of a team that’s unwilling to let their season end.
Big East Match #9: vs DePaul Blue Demons (5-8-3, 2-4-2 Big East)
Marquette is 25-6-1 all time against DePaul. That sounds nice, but the last decade and a half or so have not been great for the Golden Eagles. Marquette is only 3-6-0 against DePaul since 2004, including a 3-1 loss last season when the Golden Eagles needed the victory in the season finale to grab a Big East tournament berth and DePaul had just 10 men for the final 23 minutes.
While Marquette has their own things to play for, DePaul is currently standing on the outside of the Big East tournament looking in. They have just eight points in the standings right now, but they’re not eliminated. In order to get into the six team field, they need to beat Marquette and then hope for a Butler win or draw against Xavier. DePaul beat XU earlier this season, so they will get in on a tiebreaker if that’s the case. If Marquette wins (and that is of course the option preferred by this here website), then DePaul is done for the year.
DePaul finds themselves in this predicament due to going 0-2-1 against the teams that have already been eliminated from the Big East tournament. 1-0 thanks to a 76th minute goal against Villanova, 3-1 where they allowed all three in the final 23 minutes and blew a 1-0 lead against Butler, and a 1-1 draw with Seton Hall. All very solid opportunities for points for the Blue Demons, and they just threw all three down the drain.
The Blue Demons have an incredibly wild stat sheet. Eight players have combined to score their 17 goals this season, and thanks to the wonders of the secondary assist, seven players have racked up 21 total assists. They have five guys who have at least two assists on the year, which is really impressive. Istvan Wilhelms will be the guy most in need of marking, as he leads the team with five goals. However, Harry Hilling and Jake Fuderer can not be ignored, as they have seven and four assists respectively. It’s clear that DePaul is going to use passing to put the ball in the net, so Marquette’s back line will have to be on their toes to do Cedrik Stern a favor.
On the other end, it’ll be Drew Nuelle in net for DePaul. The redshirt sophomore from Saint Louis is having a reasonably successful first year of collegiate action. He has a goals-against average of 1.17, which is totally fine, and he’s stopping 76% of shots on frame. DePaul’s overall defense is pretty solid, as Nuelle is saving fewer than four shots per game.