Marquette has gone from needing one win to clinch a Big East tournament berth to needing help to get there.
Here’s the standings heading into the penultimate match day of the season, at least for the teams still alive for the four spots in the field:
This update from the conference’s home office lays out what’s at stake on Saturday across the league, and here’s the mention about Marquette’s game:
A win for the Hoyas would lock up a top-two seed in the conference tournament, while a Golden Eagles victory would give MU pivotal tiebreakers over Temple and GU, two teams which Marquette could end the season locked up with and jockeying for postseason berths against.
As you can see, that sentence explicitly draws a line between Georgetown’s ability to clinch a tournament spot by beating Marquette, and Marquette merely providing themselves with tiebreaker fodder. If you combine that and the standings, the interpretation I get there is that Marquette would be left out if things come down to a three-way tie at 6-3 between MU, Denver, and Temple. The bad news, at least for Marquette, is that from glancing at the standings and the schedules for this weekend and next weekend, it seems like that 6-3 three-way tie is the most likely outcome right now.
It’s hard to be upset about that, by the way. At the start of the season, 6-3 looked to be a best case scenario for the Golden Eagles, as Florida, Denver, and Georgetown all appeared to be top 25-ish teams, and Marquette hasn’t quite shown themselves capable of vaulting into that territory yet as a program. Yet, somehow, it’s going to feel slightly disappointing if Marquette ends up left out in the cold in a three-way tie in the league standings for the second time in three years.
Grace Gabriel Watch: After one goal and three assists against Denver on Wednesday, Gabriel is sitting on 52 goals this season and 112 goals in her career. She needs just a hat trick to tie Julianna Shearer’s single season (55) and career (115) goals records. She’s already destroyed her single season draw controls record, vaulting past the 81 last season with 93 this season, and with 25 controls between her and Allison Lane, Gabriel has created distance on the career list, too. And again, she’s only a junior.
Big East Game #8: at Georgetown Hoyas (10-4, 6-1)
Marquette is 0-5 all time against Georgetown. The Hoyas were ranked in the first two meetings between the squads, but that hasn’t been the case in the last three. MU suffered back to back one goal losses in 2015 and 2016, but Georgetown got the 19-11 victory at Valley Fields last season.
Georgetown comes in on a five game winning streak, all in league play. That streak got started following a two game losing streak, but you can’t fault the Hoyas for the losses. A five goal margin against Big East leader and top 10 team Florida? Eh. A 12 goal road loss to Maryland, the preseason #1 team and a squad that has lost just once all season? Eh. Georgetown’s other two losses on the season — Penn and Towson, currently ranked #10 and #6 — are both completely reasonable as well. The only real knock you can put on them for the losses is that they’re the only cracks they had against high quality opponents, thus it’s going to be kind of hard for Georgetown to propel themselves into the 22 team NCAA tournament.
Those losses ended up being on the lopsided end of things, and Georgetown has ended up sneaking their way into a few wins. Four of their 10 wins this season are by three or fewer goals, and three of them, including their last outing against Connecticut, are by just one goal. As a result, GU has an average margin of victory of less than three-quarters of a goal per game. While they may be on the verge of a top 20 ranking in the latest media poll, this is a Hoyas team that can be beaten, especially by a team like Marquette.
Both Marquette and Georgetown are in the top three teams in the Big East (along with Florida) in goals per game in league play, and they’re the top two teams in assists per game. That’s good news for Marquette, as is the fact that Georgetown is right in the middle of the pack in goals-against average against Big East foes. The drawback? Marquette actually gives up ever so slightly more goals than the Hoyas per 60 minutes. Still, though, I’d rather MU take their chances in a 15-14 shootout than an 8-7 knockdown dragout brawl.
Junior Taylor Gebhardt will be the focus of the MU defense, as she ranks fifth in the Big East in goals per game across the whole season. Her 44 goals are 14 more than any other Hoya, but sophomore Michaela Bruno is no slouch either at 30 goals on the year. Emily Ehle leads the team in assists at 19, but that means that Georgetown gets their assists from lots of places, whereas Cate Soccodato and Riley Hill are responsible for a heavy majority of MU’s helpers.
Junior Haelle Chomo is the likely Hoya starter in net. She’s allowing over 12 goals per 60 minutes, which should be good news for the Marquette attack. Part of the reason for the high GAA is the fact that she’s putting a stick on less than 43% of shots on goal.