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Marquette Women’s Soccer Preview: vs #3 North Carolina Tar Heels

The Golden Eagles have one more game out east, and the opposition has arguably gotten more difficult.

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-North Carolina vs Syracuse Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

On Thursday, Marquette women’s soccer got whipsawed to a degree by #12 Duke. Yes, the Blue Devils only won 2-0, but they outshot MU 22-4. The only reason that the game was as close as it was is because of MU keeper Maddy Henry. She made six saves in the first half to keep the match scoreless at the break even though MU had just one shot through 45 minutes.

She’s probably going to have to be outstanding again on Sunday just to keep Marquette competitive.

That’s probably a real problem at this point, because the Golden Eagles are 0-3-1 on the season.

Maybe it doesn’t mean anything long term this season for Marquette. After all, the last time that Marquette went out to North Carolina for the Duke Nike Classic, they got cracked by North Carolina and Duke.... but then went unbeaten in their final 17 matches of the season and reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. Maybe this all pays off for the Golden Eagles across the length of September and October.

That has to be the hope, because things have looked really really rough through four matches so far.

Fingers crossed.

Match #5: vs #3 North Carolina Tar Heels (4-0-1)

Date: Sunday, September 2, 2018
Time: 11am Central
Location: Koskinen Stadium, Durham, NC
Video Streaming: ACC Network Extra/WatchESPN
Live Stats: GoDuke.com
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWSOC

Marquette is 0-4-0 all time against North Carolina. In an odd quirk of circumstances, neither team has ever played a home game in this series. Three meetings have come as part of this Duke Nike Classic event in Durham, while the fourth took place in an event hosted by Notre Dame. Marquette has scored just one goal in the four matches, and that came back in 2002, in the first ever meeting.

North Carolina has played just five matches this season, but they’ve only allowed two goals. They’re outshooting opponents by nearly 12 shots per game, 19.8-8.0. This might not go well for Marquette.

The Tar Heels have scored eight goals of their own through five games, but only Taylor Otto has found the back of the net twice. UNC is almost as liberal with their passing, with 10 assists on their eight markers, and only Rachael Dorwart has recorded two helpers. Having that many possible point scorers on the pitch is going to be a real problem for Marquette’s defense.

Then again, Providence got outshot 19-7 on Thursday by the Tar Heels, and they only lost 1-0. In theory, Marquette is better than the Friars this season, at least according to the Big East coaches before the season started, so maybe there’s a glimmer of hope for the Golden Eagles.

Samantha Leshnak has been the North Carolina starting goalkeeper, but she hasn’t been the finisher. Leshnak has started and made saves against over 81% of the shots against her. Claudia Dickey has been coming on in relief at halftime, but she’s faced just five shots on goal and has stopped all five. I would presume that the platoon will continue on Sunday, but Marquette’s going to want to score early.