There’s 180 regulation minutes of soccer standing between Marquette women’s soccer and the start of the Big East schedule. Unfortunately for the Golden Eagles, they are already guaranteed to start conference play with a losing record.
Through seven matches so far in 2019, Marquette is 2-5-0. By rules of math, they can’t be better than 4-5-0 by the time the sun sets on Sunday. That’s not a good sign in terms of MU finish the year with a winning record, even with nine more matches left to play. Remember, the Golden Eagles were picked to finish eighth in the Big East this season. As hard as it is to say, there hasn’t been anything so far in non-conference play to dissuade you from that opinion. In fact, if you stack up the teams in the league up by non-con records, Marquette is eighth right now, ahead of 1-4-1 Seton Hall and 2-6-0 St. John’s.
Marquette’s problems are bountiful. After being shutout for the first three matches of the year, the Golden Eagles have scored just three goals in the next four matches. The good news, I suppose, is that MU is 2-1-0 when they score a goal. The bad news is that MU is getting more than doubled up on shots per game — 16.9 to 8.1 — so there’s a heavy majority of shots going the other way. That makes it a wee bit harder to score goals.
The question of why that’s happening is the biggest problem for Marquette right now. Is it the forwards and attacking midfielders can’t maintain possession in the offensive half of the field? Is it that the defensive corps aren’t dispossessing incoming attackers and thus sending the ball away from Maddy Henry and her net? That cutting off of inbound attacks was a hallmark of head coach Markus Roeders’ style when the Golden Eagles were going to the NCAA tournament year after year earlier this decade. It’s not happening now.
The one thing I know isn’t a problem isn’t MU’s shot quality. While getting outshot overall and when it comes to shots on goal, Marquette is about neck-and-neck with their opponents in terms of what percentage of shots end up on frame. MU puts just under 46% on goal, while the other side is just under 47%. The Golden Eagles are making the best of their opportunities, it seems. They’re just not getting that many of them.
We could dive into other issues — should Katrina Wetherell lead the team with more than the nine shots she has in seven matches? Gosh yes! — but these are generally a function of the team’s problems, not any one particular player not holding up their end of the bargain. The next 180 minutes are going to be big for Marquette. They need to play well, and perhaps you could even say they need to play better than they have. They need to get some kind of positive energy going before they launch head first into Big East play.
After all, they start conference play with Georgetown, the projected favorite and the #12 team in the country. That probably won’t be fun, and MU is going to need a reminder of how well they can play to get through as well as past that one.
Match #8: vs Northern Illinois Huskies (1-3-1)
Marquette is 5-2-0 all time against Northern Illinois. That’s a little surprising, given that the Huskies have been a regular non-conference opponent for the men’s team over time. The two teams played every year for MU’s first six seasons as a Division 1 program, took a year off, played again in 2000, but haven’t met since. Marquette has won four straight matches against NIU.
This match is the front end of a doubleheader with the men’s team at Valley Fields on Friday night. It’s also “Area 51 Night” as apparently Friday is the day that the goofball “Storm Area 51” internet silliness is scheduled to happen. First 500 fans in attendance get a “specially branded stadium cup” although I’m not sure if the brand is MU or Area 51 or both. There will also be a beer truck at the game, and that’s never a bad thing.
With the exception of a home date against Louisiana Lafayette for some reason, NIU has been kicking it around with various local teams all season long. This is their second trip to Milwaukee after a season opening loss to UWM. Their lone win on the season came on the road against Western Illinois as they got a goal from Julia Neary in the 62nd minute to win 1-0. That was two matches ago, and they took a 2-0 loss at home to Loyola-Chicago in their most recent encounter.
Thanks to a hat trick against the Cajuns, Trudy Quidzinski leads NIU in scoring this season with four goals. She has only nine shots, but while that doesn’t seem like much five matches into the season, it does lead the team. It leads the team even though Quidzinski didn’t play against Loyola, so we’ll have to wait and see if she’s in the lineup against MU.
Julia Lentz played Northern Illinois’ first 380 minutes of action this season, but it was Megan Donnelly that minded the net against the Ramblers. She made four saves in that one, which is about on pace with what Lentz was doing (5.5 per game) through the first four matches of the season. It’s possible that we’ll see either woman in the Valley, so the key for Marquette will be to control possession. The Huskies are getting doubled up on shots this season, 85-42, so in theory, it should be possible for the Golden Eagles to reverse their own fortunes on Friday night.
Match #9: vs Colorado State Rams (4-1-1)
Marquette is 0-1-0 all time against the Rams. If you’re saying to yourself, “wait, don’t I remember the first one?” well, you probably right. It was earlier this season, as Marquette and CSU are playing the rare in-season home-and-home series. Colorado State got a 2-0 win in that one in what was the season debut for both squads.
That was not a fantastic result for Marquette back in August, and while it’s still not good, at least the Rams have backed it up since then. Remember, this is still a new-ish program and they’ve yet to have a winning season. With that said, it was Mountain West play that cursed them a year ago as they came out of non-conference play with a winning record. We’ll have to wait and see what happens with CSU for the rest of the year, but for now, this is a chance for the Golden Eagles to gain revenge for the ugly start to 2019.
Caeley Lordemann scored both of Colorado State’s goals in the first meeting this season, and she’s added three more since then to lead the team in goals with five and points with 10. Kristen Noonan is the only other Ram to hit the back of the net more than once in their last five matches, adding two goals to the proceedings.
Gabi McDonald made four saves to keep MU off the board out in Fort Collins, and she’s been really great in net for the Rams. Her goals-against average of 0.78 is sparkling, and she stops 88% of shots on goal. CSU does have a proclivity to allow a whole mess of shots, as they’re actually getting outshot on the year and McDonald is averaging just over six saves per game. If MU can change up their tactics from the first match where they got outshot 18-7 and 9-1 in the first half, they should be able to get cracks at breaking through past McDonald.