Alright, moment of truth time for Marquette Golden Eagles women’s soccer this season.
After this weekend, MU (and the league in general) will have passed the midway point of Big East conference play. Three matches done already, two more coming up this weekend to get to five out of nine matches completed. Things will start sticking and locking into place in terms of the Big East standings after the next two contests, and it’s important for Marquette to take advantage of the matches that they have left.
After finagling a draw against Creighton last time out, MU has just that lone point from a draw to their credit in the standings. That has them tucked in between St. John’s (three points) and Seton Hall (zero points) in the standings and sitting in ninth place. However, right now, the cutoff for the top six spots in the league and thus a spot in the conference tournament is at four points. It’s right there, and easily jumped to with wins this weekend.
As luck would have it, Marquette is playing the team directly ahead and directly behind them in the table this weekend. It’s a perfect opportunity to leave both squads in the dust behind them with four matches left to go. That cutoff for sixth place can very easily come down to tiebreakers, and if you can start stacking up wins against the teams behind you in the standings, then things are generally floating in your direction.
If Marquette wants to put themselves back into the conference tournament after missing out on it for the first time in program history last year, then these next two matches are perfect opportunities to make that happen. Marquette has historically been able to beat both of these squads relatively easily, so that’s in their favor. All that’s left now is to go out and make it happen.
Big East Match #4: at St. John’s (4-8-0, 1-2-0 Big East)
Date: Thursday, October 10, 2019
Time: 6pm Central
Location: Belson Stadium, Queens, NY
Streaming: Big East Digital Network on Caffeine.tv or the Big East’s YouTube Channel
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWSOC
Marquette is 14-1-1 all time against St. John’s. The draw came in 2014, 1-1, in Belson Stadium, and the loss happened in 2015, 3-0, in Belson Stadium. Marquette has won the last four meetings in the series. Two were in Milwaukee, one was in Queens, and one was in Washington, D.C. as part of the Big East conference tournament. The tournament match was the only one of the four where MU allowed a goal to the Red Storm. In fact, Marquette has only ever allowed nine goals to the Johnnies in their 16 combined meetings.
The Red Storm come into this one having alternated wins and losses in their last six matches. Beat Syracuse, lose to Drexel. Beat Cornell, lose at Providence. Beat Seton Hall, lose at DePaul. All four of SJU’s wins this year have come at home, so that’s a particular land mine in the operation that the Golden Eagles will have to avoid.
As we make the turn to the midway point of the league schedule, St. John’s is in the same boat as Marquette: on the outside looking in. The Johnnies do have that win over Seton Hall in their pocket already, so they’re currently sitting one point below the current cutoff for the top six teams in the conference. As always, only the top six teams qualify for the league tournament, and there’s actually a seventh team tied for the top six right now. This match is just as important to the Johnnies as it is to Marquette in terms of postseason play, and they have a leg up on MU thanks to that win.
Goals are going to be at a premium in this match. We know about Marquette’s struggles, and St. John’s has only scored eight times this season. They’re also not getting shots off, averaging less than nine per game. Most of those come from Zsani Kajan, who is averaging 3.5 attempts per game. She has four of St. John’s goals this season, and is the only Red Storm player to have scored more than once. If MU takes her out of the equation, then it should be an easy path to points.
Meredith Reinhardt has taken over in net for the Johnnies since Big East play started. She subbed in shortly after Providence went up 4-0 in their league opener, and then she’s started the last two matches. With less than 300 minutes played this season, Reinhardt has statistically been better than Naya Lipkins: 1.23 goals-against average, and a save percentage of .833.
Big East Match #5: at Seton Hall Pirates (1-8-1, 0-3-0 Big East)
The Golden Eagles are 7-1-1 all time against Seton Hall. The draw came in Match #1 in the series in 2006, and the loss was a 1-0 defeat back in 2015. MU has won the last three meetings and hasn’t allowed a goal in the last two contests in the series.
A coaching change has not made much of a difference in South Orange. Last year: 2-12-4, with an 0-9-0 record in the Big East. This year, under first year head coach Ciara Crinion? 1-8-1, and winless through three matches in the Big East. Rome wasn’t built in a day, etc., etc., but the early returns are not super great, either.
The Pirates come into this one without having scored a goal in their last three matches — all in Big East play. They scored just four goals in non-conference action, but it’s not for lack of trying. They’re only getting outshot on average 16.1 to 11.1 shots per game, and they put a perfectly reasonable 36% of all of their shots on goal.
Freshman Harpa Johannsdottir is your goalie of choice for the Pirates this season. She’s only subbed out for one half all season, and so you can guess that her stats are not super great. She’s letting in 1.79 goals per 90 minutes, and stopping just 71% of shots on goal. All things considered, that’s probably not bad, given SHU’s record. However, it should be enough where the Golden Eagles can find ways to make goals happen against the Pirate defense.