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Marquette Women’s Soccer Preview: at Michigan Wolverines

The Golden Eagles head to Ann Arbor in search of their first goal of the season.

NCAA Football: Central Florida at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

And thus, we reach match #3 on the season and Marquette women’s soccer has yet to score a goal.

To provide some context, last year it took Marquette nine matches before they were shut out twice, they were only shut out six times all season, and never in back to back matches.

So, yeah, it’s mildly concerning.

The offense has generated just 20 shots thus far, and defender Bri Jaeger is tied with forward Carrie Madden for the team lead in shots at four each. Yes, it’s a little bit of Small Sample Size Theater, but facts are facts: Marquette’s offense is sputtering to start the season.

This trip to Michigan is a chance for the Golden Eagles to get their legs underneath them on the offensive end. While the Wolverines have won their first two matches this season, they’re not expected to make a lot of waves in the Big Ten after going 6-6-6 overall and 3-5-3 in league play a year ago. This should be, in theory, a game that Marquette can win, even on the road. Perhaps Kylie Sprecher can improve on the 41 minutes she played against Wisconsin to provide some life to MU’s offensive end. She had three goals and six assists last year, so maybe 60+ minutes of that kind of energy is exactly the lift Marquette needs right now.

Maddy Henry has been good in net for the Golden Eagles thus far, as Wisconsin’s two goals came on balls that she had no physical chance of stopping. Right time, right place, etc. With a save percentage of .833 on the season, it seems that Marquette’s defense as a whole is doing a solid job of keeping shots away from their keeper as well. That kind of performance is going to need to keep up until the offense can get itself in gear.

Match #3: at Michigan Wolverines (2-0-0)

Date: Thursday, August 23, 2018
Time: 6:30pm Central
Location: U-M Soccer Stadium, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Streaming: Pshhhh, why would there be streaming at an 8 year old facility?
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWSOC

Marquette is 4-1 all time against the Wolverines, with all five contests coming in this century. Michigan took the first ever meeting, which was an NCAA tournament contest held in Milwaukee. The Golden Eagles have won the last four, including both matches in Ann Arbor.

Michigan is off to a 2-0-0 start after opening weekend victories against Boston University and Western Michigan. They’ve allowed just one goal on the season so far, an 87th minute marker while already holding a 3-0 lead against BU. That’s a fairly decent way to get things started for a squad that was picked to finish seventh in the 14 team Big Ten.

Nicki Hernandez is going to be the priority for the Marquette defense. She’s scored in each of Michigan’s matches this season, and in fact had the first goal of the game both times. The Wolverines have been a pretty adroit passing team in the early goings, recording six assists on just five goals. Hernandez got a helper of her own on their second goal against WMU, and Meredith Haakenson has notched an assist in each game to take the team lead in that category.

I’m not quite sure what’s up with Michigan’s goalkeeping situation. Sophomore Hillary Beall was one of UM’s three players on the Big Ten’s preseason honors list after allowing six goals in seven appearances last season and earning a call up to the United States U-20 National Team over the summer. However, Beall ended up being ruled out of the U-20 World Cup in early August because of a leg injury. The severity of the injury is unclear, and it’s been fellow sophomore Izzy Nino that has played all 180 minutes so far for the Wolverines. She’s made three saves on four shots on goal, so it’s safe to say that she hasn’t really been tested by Michigan’s opponents quite yet. Nino didn’t play at all as a freshman last season, making these last two matches her first collegiate action.