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Marquette Men’s Soccer Preview: vs #12 St. John’s

The Golden Eagles have to shake off whatever Tuesday night was while facing a top 15 opponent.

St. John’s v Arizona State Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

So, Tuesday night sucked for Marquette men’s soccer, huh?

Yes, clap hands, squeal for joy, etc., Josh Coan put Marquette up 1-0 at the 6:04 mark. Saint Louis scored at the 6:34 mark to level the match, and by the time the clock said 27:00, the Billikens were up 3-1, including a penalty kick for goal #3. Ultimately it would be five straight unanswered goals for SLU, and Luka Prpa’s rebound tap-in of his own penalty kick attempt in the 76th minute was wiped away from the realm of importance by SLU putting in another PK in the 87th.

What a weird dumb match, where Marquette outshot Saint Louis 15-12 at a rainsoaked Valley Fields. It could have been even weirder, but SLU made seven saves on the night.

Alas.

So now what for Marquette? Well, as I pointed out in the preview for Tuesday’s match (perhaps stupidly, in retrospect), the Golden Eagles appeared to be playing some really high quality soccer heading into that one. That’s what they need to focus on. Not the result of some goofball non-conference match, but what they’re capable of going forward.

More importantly, they have to be focused on accumulating points in Big East play. They already washed out losing late to Creighton at home by stealing road points from Xavier last weekend. Now the Golden Eagles get a chance to snag points and a very notable victory with a top 15 team coming onto their pitch for Friday night’s contest. It’s still early in the Big East schedule, so Marquette is in both a three-way tie for fourth in the league as well as a three-way tie for second place. Friday night’s opponent is one of the three teams tied for first, so taking points from them, even in a draw, would be a pretty strong result for the Golden Eagles.

Big East Match #3: vs #12 St. John’s Red Storm (8-1-0, 2-0-0 Big East)

Date: Friday, October 4, 2019
Time: 7pm Central
Location: Valley Fields
Streaming: Big East Digital Network on Caffeine.tv and the Big East’s YouTube channel
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteSoccer

Marquette is 4-2-3 all time against St. John’s. Are you ready for the even wilder stat? Marquette has not allowed a goal to the Johnnies since 2010! From 2011 through 2018, Marquette’s meetings with St. John’s have resulted in three scoreless draws and three shutout Golden Eagles victories including a double overtime 1-0 win with less than 30 seconds left. That’s a run of over 667 minutes played without letting a goal into the net.

Of course, by pointing this out, I have guaranteed that the Johnnies will score in the first minute of this match.

St. John’s is officially the big surprise of the 2019 Big East men’s soccer season. After going 7-8-3 a year ago, the Johnnies were picked to finish seventh in the league this year. After peaking at #9 in the country before suffering their first loss of the season to #25 Maryland, I think it’s safe to say that 7th place would be a disappointment for them at this point. They got here by beating a North Carolina State team that was earning top 25 votes in Match #2 of the year, and then just kept on not losing. They didn’t even beat a ranked team until they were already in the top 10 in the country. That was in their Big East opener, as they prevailed 3-1 over then-#19 Xavier. St. John’s scored all three goals after the 55 minute mark after allowing a Musketeers goal in the 12th minute. Their double-overtime loss to Maryland is their only blemish on the year, and that’s not even a big one. They bounced back from that to beat Butler last weekend to stay unbeaten in Big East play.

It’s really more their defense than their offense that’s guiding them, although putting in more than two goals per game on average is definitely helping. SJU’s offense puts together about as many shots as Marquette’s does, but the Johnnies are only allowing 7.4 shots per game. It’s hard to win a match when you have to play perfect defense and cash in one of your eight total shots, and that’s what makes SJU’s offense so scary.

Niko Petridis is their leading scorer right now, crafting 11 points on four goals and three assists. Tani Oluwaseyi has four goals as well, pairing with Petridis for eight of St. John’s 19 goals on the year. Skage Simonsen only has one goal, but he has four assists to make up for it as well as lead the team. The Red Storm has 14 helpers on the year, so Marquette’s defense has to be extra careful about allowing quality passes as well as allowing quality shots.

St. John’s is running a timeshare in net thus far this season. Jan Hoffelner has started all nine matches, but he’s only played more than 45 minutes once. Interestingly for Marquette, that one time was in the Butler match, aka SJU’s most recent contest, and Hoffelner went the full 90 in that one. Luka Gavran is the one playing second halves and overtimes outside of against Butler, so I suppose it’s up in the air as to whether or not we’ll see him at all on Friday night. Statistically, the two are interchangeable, because really: What’s the honest difference between Hoffelner’s 0.40 goals-against average and Gavran’s 0.68?