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Marquette Men’s Soccer Preview: at RV Xavier

The Golden Eagles make their way to Ohio for a Big East challenge while searching for their first three points of league play.

Seton Hall v Xavier
Both Xavier and Providence have secondary mascots that should be their actual full-time mascot.
Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

You can easily make the argument that Marquette men’s soccer played well enough to win their Big East opener against Creighton last weekend. Of course, thanks to a well placed volley from Daniel Espeleta in the 86th minute, they took a 1-0 loss instead.

It’s very much a “it’s not what you want” situation, especially given you can argue that MU had the better offensive day. Eight shots on goal against five for the Jays, and seven corners for against just two conceded. But it’s still a 1-0 loss, and still zero points in the Big East table after 90 minutes.

That’s fine. There’s still eight matches left to go, and a lot of time to stack up the points necessary to get into the Big East tournament. Things get a little harder from here, though. Friday’s opponent is earning top 25 votes, and next weekend’s foe — St. John’s — is currently ranked #9 in the country. Oh, and Georgetown is ranked #2 in the country. That’ll be a hoot, but that’s not until late October.

It’s going to be hard to pry points from those three matches, which is the real problem with not coming out of the Creighton match with something. Marquette found a way into the Big East tournament a year ago after not looking all that great in non-conference action, but there also weren’t two top 10 teams sitting there. Perhaps the Golden Eagles can make magic happen starting on Friday night in Ohio. Their only problem is that they’re going up against a team just as hungry for points in the standings......

Big East Match #2: at RV Xavier Musketeers (4-2-1)

Date: Friday, September 27, 2019
Time: 6pm Central
Location: Xavier Soccer Complex, Cincinnati, OH
Streaming: Big East Digital Network on or the Big East’s YouTube channel
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteSoccer

Marquette is 6-3-1 all time against Xavier after going 1-0-1 against the Musketeers a year ago. The win was in Milwaukee in the regular season, while the draw was also in Milwaukee, but in the Big East quarterfinals. The Golden Eagles eventually advanced to the semifinals by way of penalty kicks.

Xavier’s 2019 campaign got started on a heater, as they knocked off #2 Akron in Cincinnati. That’s a very good in-state rivalry win as well as a national statement from the Musketeers. They stayed unbeaten through their first four matches, including pulling a 2-2 draw on the road against #9 Kentucky along the way. However, they then suffered their first two losses of the season back-to-back, although no one is really going to fault them for losing on the road to #9 St. John’s.

However, it’s that league opening loss to the Red Storm that puts Xavier into the same position as Marquette at this point: a zero in the points column after one match. Not a big deal, with eight matches left to go to decide what six teams get into the Big East tournament. However, the Musketeers assuredly think that they are capable of beating a good team like St. John’s after beating the Zips, and it will be interesting to see their in-league reaction after the loss. They’ve already bounced back with a 1-0 win on the road against IUPUI after getting a goal from Karsen Henderlong just 88 seconds into the match.

Xavier is averaging a bit more than a goal per match this season, but it’s really been two guys carrying the load. Henderlong and Samson Sergi have both tallied five goals in XU’s seven matches so far in 2019, and that’s some hellacious output. Sergi isn’t a surprise, as I thought he deserved to be Big East Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. Henderlong is a surprise, but that has more to do with the Indiana native being a freshman this season. Henderlong has scored his five goals on just nine shots this season, so Marquette will desperately need to prevent him from getting shots off.

Redshirt junior Matthew Rosenberg has played every minute in net so far this season for Xavier. He’s letting in 1.21 goals per 90 minutes, which isn’t super great. However, he’s stopping just short of 80% of shots on goal, and that’s pretty good. As you might guess, Xavier is getting outshot on the year, averaging about 3.6 more shots allowed per game than they take themselves. If MU can keep that trend going, it might be just the thing the Golden Eagles need to swipe points on the road.