The Marquette marketing and ticket sales office apparently won some sort of internal argument recently. That’s the only explanation I have for the athletic department announcing the fall 2018 home slates for men’s soccer, women’s soccer, and volleyball on Wednesday instead of announcing each team’s full schedule at other separate days and/or dates.
See, by announcing all of the home schedules together, the office can make a big deal about how season tickets are going on sale for all three sports on May 1st. As always, men’s and women’s soccer tickets are sold as one package together, with 21 games sold at a remarkable price point of $45. That comes with the now traditional MU soccer scarf as well. Volleyball is still a solid deal at $40 for 15 matches, where as long as you make it to half of the matches, you’re coming out ahead on the single game tickets.
The only drawback to this approach is those of us who are super interested in all three sports don’t get to see the whole schedule yet. As we’ll get to in a minute with each individual team, there’s potentially an awful lot of non-conference action that’s left off for the time being. On top of that, the Big East schedules for each team is clearly set right now, but we’re only seeing one half of it. It’s kind of a bummer in that regard, but hey: the good news from the perspective of this website is that we get an extra blog article out of the whole deal.
Alrighty then, let’s move on to attacking each team’s schedule and the highlights of what we know so far. We’ll go in chronological order relative to when each team plays their first home match.
2018 Women’s Soccer Home Schedule
|Sat., Aug. 11||Mississippi State (exhibition)||8:00 PM|
|Mon., Aug. 20||Wisconsin||7:30 PM|
|Sun., Aug. 26||Milwaukee||7:30 PM|
|Thurs., Sept. 6||Colorado||7:00 PM|
|Fri., Sept. 14||BYU||7:00 PM|
|Sun., Sept. 23||Butler||1:00 PM|
|Sun., Sept. 30||St. John's||1:00 PM|
|Thurs., Oct. 4||DePaul||7:00 PM|
|Thurs., Oct. 18||Georgetown||7:00 PM|
|Thurs., Oct. 25||Seton Hall||7:00 PM|
There’s two things that immediately jump off the page with this schedule for Markus Roeders’ squad. First of all, Marquette will be playing Wisconsin in a regular season contest for the first time since 2004. The Golden Eagles and Badgers have been playing a yearly exhibition contest for the last several years, but that changes this year, as MU will host UW to kick off the home end of the regular season. Instead of the exhibition against the Badgers, Marquette will host Mississippi State for an exhibition as part of the yearly Fan Fest at Valley Fields.
The other notable item is the lack of a Marquette Invitational on the docket. This is the first season where MU has not hosted a weekend tournament since 2012. It’s been a regular feature on the schedule, which leads me to two possibilities for the reason for the absence. First: Marquette couldn’t get enough teams interested in making the trip. Second: Marquette’s more interested in building a strong non-conference resume, as the Invitational has largely been about stacking up wins as opposed to bolstering the NCAA tournament profile. After all, the last time that MU went without the home event was the year that the Golden Eagles made a run to the Sweet 16 and fell in penalty kicks to none other than BYU. That team went 18-2-3 overall and was unbeaten in league play. It’s possible that Roeders is looking to challenge his team and make it back to the NCAA tournament after missing out last year.
We already know that MU will play two NCAA tourney teams from a year ago in Wisconsin and Colorado. Both the Badgers and the Buffaloes advanced to the Round of 32, so those should be two strong tests again in 2018. BYU is coming off of a 7-8-4 season where they missed the NCAA tournament themselves for the first time since 2011. Odds are they’ll be back in the mix again in 2018, and Milwaukee is probably going to be angry as hell after what happened to them in 2017. The Panthers went 16-0-4, but missed the NCAA tournament. They went to a 0-0 draw with IUPUI in the Horizon League title match after beating the Jaguars 6-0 at Engelmann Stadium two weeks earlier, and IUPUI beat them in penalty kicks, 4-3. That is a lousy way to end the season, and you’d have to figure they’ll be ready and raring to go come August 26th when they make their way to Valley Fields.
With just four non-conference games announced right now, it seems likely that MU will play a bunch of road games before Big East play kicks off in late September. Marquette played 10 non-con games last year, so there’s a lot of space left underneath the NCAA’s scheduling limit. It may lead to some less than advantageous travel for the Golden Eagles, as there’s only one weekend before conference action that’s completely free of a game right now. We may see a lot of Marquette pairing home and road games in a weekend in order to get their games in, and that’s not something that we usually see from women’s soccer.
2018 Men’s Soccer Home Schedule
|Sat., Aug. 11||Loyola-Chicago (exhibition)||5:30 PM|
|Sun., Aug. 26||Valparaiso||4:00 PM|
|Thurs., Aug. 30||Central Arkansas||7:00 PM|
|Fri., Sept. 7||Penn||7:00 PM|
|Sat., Sept. 15||Villanova||7:00 PM|
|Wed., Sept. 19||Milwaukee||7:00 PM|
|Wed., Sept. 26||Wisconsin||7:00 PM|
|Sat., Sept. 29||Georgetown||7:00 PM|
|Sat., Oct. 13||St. John's||7:00 PM|
|Sat., Oct. 20||Xavier||7:00 PM|
|Wed., Oct. 31||DePaul||7:00 PM|
Last year, Marquette played seven non-conference games and two exhibition matches. So far, MU has five home non-con games and an exhibition match scheduled in 2018. That seems like it’s an awful lot of the potential schedule being squared away right off the bat. The layout of the schedule on a calendar lends itself to that idea as well, as things are pretty crowded over the first month of the season.
The Golden Eagles will get two 2017 NCAA tournament teams at home this season in Central Arkansas and Wisconsin. UCA won the Missouri Valley tournament to advance to the national version, but the Bears pulled the upset on #1 seed Missouri State to get there after going 8-10-0 in the regular season and 5-3-0 in conference play. Wisconsin, on the other hand, advanced all the way to the Sweet 16 before falling to eventual Final Four squad Akron.
The yearly Milwaukee Cup match returns to Valley Fields this season, so mark your calendars for September 19th right now. The Panthers reclaimed the cup in 2017 after MU maintained possession for three straight years for the first time since the late 1990s.
It’s important to note the existence of two double-headers on the schedule. The first is part of the Fan Fest with the MU men hosting Loyola-Chicago in the first game before the women tangle with Mississippi State. The second one is two regular season games on August 26th, the day before fall classes start. The men’s team will play Valparaiso in the first game in what will be their home opener, followed up by what should be an excellent contest between UWM and Marquette over on the women’s side of the aisle.
2018 Volleyball Home Schedule
|Fri., Sept. 7||USC||7:00 PM|
|Sat., Sept. 8||BYU||6:00 PM|
|Sun., Sept. 9||Syracuse||noon|
|Fri., Sept. 14||Wisconsin||7:00 PM|
|Sat., Sept. 15||Tulsa||1:00 PM|
|Sat., Sept. 15||Illinois State||7:00 PM|
|Fri., Sept. 28||Georgetown||7:00 PM|
|Sat., Sept. 29||Villanova||6:00 PM|
|Wed., Oct. 3||Xavier||11:30 AM|
|Wed., Oct. 10||Butler||6:00 PM|
|Fri., Oct. 19||DePaul||7:00 PM|
|Fri., Oct. 26||Creighton||7:00 PM|
|Sat., Oct. 27||Providence||6:00 PM|
|Fri., Nov. 16||Seton Hall||7:00 PM|
|Sat., Nov. 17||St. John's||6:00 PM|
As per usual, head coach Ryan Theis is not messing around, not even in the slightest. The Marquette head coach is well aware of the relative strength of the Big East and is determined to prepare his team every year for the NCAA tournament by challenging them in the non-conference slate. This year is no different, as just the home section of the schedule turns up three teams — USC, BYU, and Wisconsin — that reached the Sweet 16 of last year’s NCAA tournament. Two more teams landed in the top 100 of the RPI and qualified for the first iteration of a volleyball NIT, which I didn’t realize had happened until I was checking in on Syracuse’s and Illinois State’s records last season. Even Tulsa, who finished under .500 last year, was still a top 150 RPI team, and you can’t ask much more from your non-conference schedule than “only top 150 teams, please.”
More importantly, perhaps, is that Marquette will play two tournaments in Milwaukee this year. That has been something of a rare occasion under Theis, but again, given MU’s specific circumstances, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. If the Golden Eagles are going to get their best tests by spending most of August and September on the road, then so be it. This year, though, MU will be the host, and you’d like to think that would give them a slight edge against these teams that are clearly postseason hopefuls.
Even with the two home tournaments on consecutive weekends, it does look like Marquette will be out on the road for the first two weekends of the year, and perhaps again in between the final home event and the start of Big East play. That weekend might end up being a road trip in conference play, as that was the case last year. We also know that volleyball will not be at home on the Friday of Homecoming Week this year, thus avoiding the need to cram in a match before Marquette Madness starts.