Hey, last weekend was pretty great, huh?
Marquette women’s soccer came away from a trip to the New York City area with a pair of wins, vaulting MU to a 2-2-1 record in Big East play this season. (Don’t ask questions about the 5-8-1 overall record please and thank you.) The pair of wins gave the Golden Eagles six new points in league play, and bounced them up from last place through three matches to a tie for fifth place through five matches.
I’ll take it, thank you very much.
With four matches left to go, Marquette still has a lot of work left to do to lock themselves into a top six finish and thus a conference tournament berth. Sunday’s match won’t be a picnic, and two of the three after that are against teams in front of MU in the standings. However, the wins over St. John’s and Seton Hall have put Marquette in position to make things happen with four matches left, and that’s all you can really ask for at this point.
The key for Marquette in my mind is trying to ignore a lot of what went right for them in their 5-0 win over Seton Hall. I mean, y’know, YAY BIG WIN, but, uh, Seton Hall’s bad. Like, 1-10-1 bad. It’s good that MU smashed them from a relative comparison point of view, but we can’t take the 5-0 win as a sign that the Golden Eagles have figured a lot of things out, either.
The rest of the regular season schedule is probably going to be more like the 3-2 win over St. John’s, where the Golden Eagles had to claw their way into the match after falling behind 2-0. Not that I want to see a lot of 2-0 deficits, obviously, but the toughness and tenacity that the team displayed by rallying and beating the Johnnies is what’s important.
Based on last year’s final standings, it might take as many as 14 points to clinch a top six finish. Marquette is halfway there and has 12 more potential points sitting in front of them. All they have to do is reach out and grab them.
Big East Match #6: vs Villanova Wildcats (7-4-3, 3-1-1 Big East)
Marquette is 8-2 all time against Villanova. That’s good! Both losses happened in the last two meetings. That’s bad! The last two meetings are the only times that Villanova has ever scored a goal against Marquette. That’s..... probably bad? Yes.
Villanova comes into Sunday’s contest undefeated in their last three matches, and only a loss to then-#11 Georgetown is breaking up a run with just one loss in their last seven contests. As you can see from their record, that’s a bit of a turnaround from the start of the year, when the Wildcats opened up with a record of 3-3-1 in their first seven. Some of that — losing to #6 Florida State, for example — isn’t their fault, but they’re clearing doing something better in the last month or so.
Having two women in the top 10 in the league in points is definitely helping. Chloe O’Neill and Brice McInroy both have 11 on the year so far, and they’re doing it in different ways. McInroy, a sophomore from Pennsylvania, is the goal scorer, leading the squad with five on the year and she adds an assist to get to 11. Classmate O’Neill, who hails from Florida, has been primarily helping with helpers, as she has five assists on the season. However, she does have three goals as well, including one each in both of the last two matches for VU.
In addition to those two, there’s also Sam Rosette, who has hit the net three times this season, and three more Wildcats who have two goals on the year. That’s a lot of variety to keep an eye on for the MU defense, and with 17 assists on 20 goals this year, the Golden Eagles will need to be wary of the pass just as much as the shot.
Grad student Rebecca Gartner has taken over in net for the Wildcats over the past nine matches. She came into the year with just 19 collegiate appearances, and only nine for Villanova. However, she’s been minding the net for most of VU’s rebound on the year, so that has to count for something. Her stats aren’t superb, though. She’s allowing 1.43 goals per 90 minutes, and that’s with a pair of overtime draws extending out her minutes played a bit. Gartner stops 75% of shots on goal, which is pretty reasonable, and her 4.3 saves per match is mostly okay. She’s only allowed five goals in the past six matches, though, with two of them coming against national title contender Georgetown, so the stats aren’t telling the whole story.