2-3-1 at this point of the season somehow feels like a disappointment thus far for Marquette men’s soccer. Individually, maybe Marquette’s three losses aren’t a problem. Letting a leveled match slip away from them with only 10 men, allowing a very late Creighton goal to drop the Big East opener, and of course, in the Milwaukee Cup, which is always a coin toss at best anyway.
Still, the Golden Eagles finished the 2018 season strong, and their penalty kick fueled run to the Big East championship game bolstered feelings about how this season would go. Marquette returned most of their key cogs, and so with a more veteran team as well as a deeper team, you’d think that things would be going better.
But they’re not.
There is, of course, the outstanding issue of Luka Prpa, who is still working his way back to 100% fitness after springtime foot surgery. Still, while Prpa provides a certain flair in the midfield, head coach Louis Bennett has more than enough scoring pop from his other players that they should have been able to paper over Prpa’s absence more than they have.
With Big East play already underway and Marquette already sitting three points in the hole thanks to their loss to Creighton, the time is now to do something about how this season is going. Tuesday night’s trip to Madison gives the Golden Eagles a chance to beat a team, at least on paper it seems, that they should beat. We’ll worry about what the weekend brings after that, but for now, the Golden Eagles need to focus on the 90 minutes in front of them and what it takes to leave Madison with a win.
Match #7: at Wisconsin Badgers (2-5-0, 0-1-0 Big Ten)
Marquette has an all-time record of 16-31-11 all time against Wisconsin. My goodness, that is lopsided. Five of Marquette’s 16 wins in the series that dates back to 1964 have come in the last nine meetings, where the Golden Eagles hold a record of 5-3-1. MU has won each of the last two encounters in Madison, shutting out the Badgers 4-0 along the way.
I think it’s safe to say that this season is not going as Wisconsin had perhaps expected. The Badgers started the year getting top 25 votes, which they immediately flushed down the tubes by losing to UC Davis in their opener. They come into this contest with consecutive losses at Butler, at home against Portland, and then on the road against #4 Indiana. To their credit, Wisconsin had leveled the match against the Hoosiers in the 77th minute, but Indiana scored 77 seconds later and then again right before the final horn for the 3-1 victory. Somewhere along the way in there, Wisconsin also lost to Bowling Green in a match hosted by Northwestern for some reason.
They’ve scored just five goals — with five different men knocking them in — in seven matches this year, and are nearly getting doubled up in shots, 10.3 against per game versus 5.6 for. 16-ish total shots in a game is dreadfully boring, so be prepared for that to happen on Tuesday night.
As much as Wisconsin has been struggling, they’ve stuck with Dean Cowdroy in net. The Aussie senior made his Wisconsin debut a year ago after playing two years at Division 2 Lander University. He’s.... not.... doing.... great, with a goals-against average of 1.43 and a save percentage of .706. Wisconsin doesn’t allow much in way of total shots, so Cowdroy is only averaging 3.4 saves per match. If Marquette can dictate terms to Wisconsin, things should go in favor of the visitors on Tuesday night. They should be able to, by the way. Marquette is averaging just under 15 shots per game on their own this season, which again, is about how many shots Wisconsin sees going in both directions in a match. Set the tone, win the match. Seems simple.