If Marquette women’s soccer has five more matches this season that look like Thursday night’s first half against DePaul, it’s going to be a very sad and ugly end to the season. The Golden Eagles got outshot 13-4, and while the contest didn’t feel like it was that tilted towards the Blue Demons, it certainly didn’t feel like Marquette was on the verge of doing anything special.
The second half of that match was a different story. I don’t know if it was a technical adjustment by head coach Markus Roeders or just an incredibly fiery halftime speech that led to MU leaving the locker room with just 15 seconds left in intermission, but the Golden Eagles looked much different after the break. They ended up outshooting the Blue Demons 6-3 and it seemed that only a few unlucky turns of physics kept the Golden Eagles from putting the ball into the net. Had they done that for 90 minutes instead of 45 minutes, perhaps that one doesn’t end as a scoreless draw but instead with three points for Marquette.
It did end in the draw, though, and thus Marquette is 1-2-1 in Big East play and in a four-way tie for fifth place in the league with four points. One of the other teams in the tie is Sunday’s opponent, thus giving Marquette a big opportunity to not only break the tie, but change the look of the standings in a fairly notable way. In fact, both of MU’s next two matches come against teams currently deadlocked with them, but that’s not important til later in the week. With Georgetown and Butler seemingly getting a leg up on the competition early, Marquette needs to start carving points out of their schedule if they want to put a positive ending on what has otherwise been a bummer of a season. There’s still a path to the Big East tournament here, but opportunities like “facing a team you’ve historically dominated with a chance to push ahead of them in the standings” have to be answered with the best possible effort from everyone.
A match against Georgetown still looms for Marquette, and it’s going to be hard for the Golden Eagles to pry a positive result from that one, especially as the Hoyas are still unbeaten this year at 11-0-2. MU has to find their way into the conference tournament with the points available from the other four matches left on the slate, and that push starts in earnest on Sunday afternoon in Rhode Island.
Big East Match #5: at Providence Friars (7-4-2, 1-2-1 Big East)
Marquette is 11-1-2 all time against Providence, but it’s not all good news. The loss came last year in Milwaukee as the Golden Eagles allowed one in the 17th minute and never recovered. That snapped a streak of eight straight Marquette wins and seven straight shutouts. Yes, that’s right, Providence didn’t score against Marquette between 2011 and 2016. Last year’s game winner was just the third Friars goal in the history of the series.
The Friars come into this one matching Marquette in terms of record in league play. Given that they were 6-2-1 in their non-conference slate and I was openly wondering if they were pretty good this year, this probably isn’t the start to league play that head coach Sam Lopes wanted to see from his squad. In fact, their current 0-2-1 run came on the heels of a five match unbeaten streak, so it seems like things are really going sideways on the Friars here.
After contributing to eight of PC’s goals in their first nine matches of the season, Hannah McNulty has been slowed down a little bit in the front end of conference action. Far be it to call two goals in four matches bad, but it’s a bit off of her pace from earlier this season. She’s still the team leader in goals with eight, which is pretty damn great all told. She’s knotted up with four teammates for the team lead in helpers with two each, giving Providence 12 assists on their 18 goals this season. That’s a deft touch all the way around the pitch, so Marquette’s defense is going to need to be on their toes.
While the results haven’t really been there for Providence, Shelby Hogan has still been good in net. She has a goals-against average of 0.74, which is third best in the league and second best amongst full-time keepers. Butler’s whole halftime switch deal is really a bummer when it comes to discussing stats. Hogan is straight up second best in save percentage, knocking down over 86% of shots on goal. It’s going to take some creativity to find a way to poke shots past her, and that’s something that Marquette has struggled mightily at this season.