Wanna hear something really wild?
Top Drawer Soccer has Marquette men’s soccer ranked #12 in the country as of yesterday. TWELFTH! After wins over Valparaiso and Central Arkansas!
I mean, yes, there is that 7-1 goal differential through two matches, but it’s only two matches! Against Missouri Valley Conference teams! That weren’t ranked! THEY AIN’T PLAYED NOBODY PAWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWL
The new United Soccer Coaches poll is due out sometime during the day on Tuesday, and they only handed out a few votes to MU, so we’ll see what happens with that. In the meantime.... Marquette did look pretty damn good against Central Arkansas. The Bears were expected to be better than Valpo in the MVC this year, and the Golden Eagles had even less trouble with UCA than they did with the Crusaders. UCA had the most prolific goal scorer in the country last year coming back in 2018, and the Golden Eagles held Niklas Brodacki to.... drumroll please.... one shot on goal for the entire match. And that was with a backline that was missing Steffen Bohm for the match as well.
The point of all of this is that Marquette needed to make big jumps in performance on both ends of the pitch from last season if they wanted to qualify for the Big East tournament for the first time in four seasons. They’ve scored seven goals in two matches, allowing just one goal going the other way, and they locked down the most prolific scorer in the country from last season to just one shot in a match. It’s early, of course, with just 180 minutes played, but the results are telling us that the Golden Eagles are much better on both ends in 2018.
How much better? #12 in the country better?
Let’s wait and see what happens after Tuesday night, shall we?
Match #3: at Saint Louis Billikens (0-1-1)
Date: Tuesday, September 4, 2018
Time: 7pm Central
Location: Hermann Stadium, Saint Louis, MO
Video Streaming: ESPN+, which means you need a subscription.
Live Stats: StatBroadcast
Twitter Updates: @marquettesoccer
Things have not gone well historically for Marquette against Saint Louis. MU has a 3-21-2 all time record in this series. That is not a typo, nor is it a joke. The last five meetings have been some of the most successful runs in the series for MU, as they have gone 1-2-2 in that time, including an overtime loss last year at Valley Fields. Try not to think about the 2-19-1 record between 1964 and 2001.
As you can see, Saint Louis has yet to win a match this season. Part of that is not entirely their fault, and if we’re being honest, it’s possible that their record is better than it both could and should be. It took a goal with 16 seconds left in regulation to end up forcing a draw with #17 Notre Dame in their opener. Memphis scored twice against them in the first half hour in their home opener to explain the loss, and their third scheduled match of the season was cancelled due to weather. However, that was going to come on the road against #9 Louisville, so I’m not sure exactly about SLU’s chances in that one.
This is Saint Louis’ first season under the guidance of head coach Kevin Kalish, and he probably has a lot of memories from playing against Marquette. Kalish was the 1998 Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year and was a junior on the SLU squad that made it to the NCAA semifinals in 1997. Presuming he was in college for the traditional four consecutive seasons, Kalish comes into this one with a record of 1-4-0, including a meeting in the CUSA conference tournament semifinals in 1997.
Senior defender Lennart Hein may have SLU’s lone representative on the preseason all-Atlantic 10 team, but it’s senior forward Anthony Brown that’s provided the pop in the Billikens lineup. When I say “the pop,” I do mean all of it, as Brown has both of SLU’s goals so far this season. Weirdly, both of his goals have come with less than two minutes left to play in regulation, so let’s say that Marquette is going to need a two goal lead when the clock hits 88:00 in order to win.
Senior Ben Yeager looks to be the man in net for Saint Louis, but there is a tiny question mark on that. Yeager started both of their matches so far this season, but he exited the Memphis match with a little less than 18 minutes remaining. He had allowed goals back in the 22nd and 27th minutes, so I have to presume it wasn’t a coaching decision to lift him 45 minutes later. If he can’t go, it will likely be freshman Seth Stiebel getting the nod. He’s the one that replaced Yeager against Memphis and has yet to face a shot on goal in his 18 minute old collegiate career.