In the preseason poll, Georgetown was by far and away the conference champion favorite. The combination of dynamic attackers and a stout defense should have seen them to an easy result against your Marquette, who have been sliding in form since their upset defeat of Villanova at home. If that wasn’t enough to predict a Hoyas victory on Saturday night, then Georgetown’s 12-1-2 all-time record against Marquette would have helped tip the scales.
This result could have been made even easier when freshman Alan Salmeron, in just his fourth collegiate match, received a straight red card in the 52nd minute for a studs-up challenge, forcing Marquette to play with ten men for the remaining time. While the match was scoreless at the time, the ensuing Hoyas advantage surely meant that they would come away with a victory and three points in the Big East standings.
And yet, Marquette showed defensive resolve, effort, and intensity (and a surprisingly strong attacking mindset even being down the man), and earned a 0-0 draw after full time and two periods of extra time.
The weather decided to misbehave from the first kick, changing in between a constant drizzle and an actual downpour (Aside: I’m still not dry from sitting in the stands, and I was lucky enough to at least be partially under an overhang). Georgetown came out fast, pressing quickly and closing down Marquette’s space in their own third, forcing a flurry of long passes to clear the ball away from the net. Marquette’s back four were called upon time and again to make big plays, and they delivered, but none more than Leo Villa. He made one goal-line save after Barraza was beat and another incredible sliding tackle on the edge of the box to stop a Georgetown counter.
After the Salmeron red in the second half, Marquette seemed to be on the front foot for the rest of the half. Even down the man, they found good crosses from (biased opinion incoming) the best fullbacks in the Big East and creative presence from Luka Prpa, Connor Alba, and Josh Coan. The game plan the entire way was to allow the fullback duo of Steffan Bohm and Patrick Seagrist get forward and sit Zak Wegner and Salmeron (and later Ruben Sanchez) in front of the center backs to create a block of defenders that would be steady while allowing the fullbacks the freedom to move up and down the wide areas.
In a complete reversal of the second half, Georgetown owned the two extra time periods, keeping Marquette well on the back foot and desperate to hold on to the draw. Josh Hancock came on to replace Oliver Posarelli, bringing the taller man and more consistent defender in after an illness that was anticipated to keep him out of the match. The Marquette defense bent, watching a number of shots fly just wide or high of goal, and Luis Barraza was called into action a few times, but nothing found the back of the net.
So, Marquette, in three Big East games, has 4 points, and stand in a three-way tie for fourth place. Considering the roller coaster season it has been, that’s not too bad. They can’t rest their laurels on this unexpected positive result, however. An away match at Providence (6 points, third place) looms next week (and they won’t have Salmeron, as he’ll be suspended for his red card after being a 90 minute man the last few times out) and then surprise team St. John’s (7 points, second place) comes to the Valley. Marquette needs at least three points from those two fixtures, and one would argue they probably need to get six to feel safe about making the Big East tournament.
Not to take away from this result, though. What a hard-fought win (well, draw, but it’s got the significance of a win for the Golden Eagles) that showed what this team is really made of. Now they need to go out and do that again and again.