Welllllll, turns out Kylie Sprecher’s pretty good at this whole soccer thing.
She struck just about the most perfect ball she could have possibly struck on Sunday afternoon to give Marquette women’s soccer 1) their first goal of the year and 2) their first win of the year. That’s a pretty strong combination of things all in one swing of the leg.
We can celebrate the win and the goal, but Marquette’s underlying issues that led to them starting out the year with three straight losses are still there. On average this season, Marquette is getting outshot by 10 attempts per game. Generally speaking, that’s bad. To make matters worse, the Golden Eagles can’t even claim that they’re making better use of their shots. Opponents have an ever so slight edge in shots on goal percentage, outpacing MU .463 to .423.
God bless her, Maddy Henry has been damn near heroic for the Golden Eagles to keep things to only four goals allowed this season. Thanks to the extra session in the shutout on Sunday, her goals-against average is now under 1.00 on the season, and she’s stopping over 87% of shots on goal. She had made 10 saves in a match twice already this year and as a result, Henry has gone skyrocketing past Marquette’s record for saves in a career. Henry is MU’s first ever goalie with 300 stops, and we’re still five matches away from the start of Big East play in Henry’s senior season.
To put it another way: Through four matches, Maddy Henry is making 6.75 saves per match, and MU’s program record for a season is Karin Tinuccui’s 7.50 per contest..... back in 1994. AKA: The second year of the program.
The good (?) news is that Marquette is about to face two squads that have had the exact same shot percentage problem this season. Someone has to come away from these matches with an advantage in that department. Let’s see if that can be the Golden Eagles, and let’s see if that can turn into a whole mess of goals going into the net.
Match #5: at Minnesota Golden Gophers (0-2-2)
Date: Thursday, September 5, 2019
Time: 7pm Central
Location: Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium, Saint Paul, MN
Streaming: BTN+, so it’s going to cost you some cash for a subscription.
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWSOC
Marquette is 1-4-1 all time against Minnesota. The six meetings have come in two sets of home-and-home series, along with one NCAA tournament match in Minneapolis in 2008 that was returned with a home game — Marquette’s lone win, btw — the next season. The most recent meeting was a 2-1 overtime win in Milwaukee for the Gophers in 2015.
While the Gophers haven’t been putting wins on the scoreboard this season, they have been scoring goals. They have five in four matches, which is more than we can say for Marquette. They’ve been making the most of their chances, too. Minnesota has been outshot on the year 64-35, which is not that far off from getting doubled up on a per-game basis. All of this is a little surprising, since Minnesota was picked to finish sixth in the Big Ten this season. Considering that Wisconsin was picked third and started the year at #15 in the USC preseason poll, sixth in a 14 team league isn’t too shabby. That kind of optimism has not really been matched by results yet.
Junior Makenzie Langdok has the early lead on the stat sheet with two goals this year. Three more Gophers have found the back of the net, and four different women have combined for Minnesota’s four assists on the year.
Junior Maddie Nielsen has taken every minute in goal so far this season. She’s stopping 70% of shots on goal, but her goals-against average is taking a beating thanks to that shot differential. Even with three overtime games on the slate — they lost to Ole Miss in 2OT in their last match — Nielsen is allowing 1.72 goals per 90 minutes.
Match #6: vs Utah State Aggies (1-2-0)
Date: Sunday, September 8, 2019
Time: 1pm Central
Location: Valley Fields
Special Promotion: There will be a petting zoo over by the concession stand.
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWSOC
This is the first ever meeting between Utah State and Marquette.
Sunday will mark Utah State’s fourth road match of the season, but it will also be their longest road trip of the season thus far. They started the year with a weekend trip to South Dakota State and South Dakota, and spent last Friday up the road at Utah. Jaunting off to Milwaukee is a pretty serious trip, but they’ll make the journey to Illinois State and UIC next weekend, so this is a long way to go for a one off match.
They’ve been struggling for results this season, as you can see from the record. The game winner against South Dakota is their only goal of the season thus far, although they do have a home date with Weber State on Wednesday night. BREAKING NEWS: I am not waiting til that match goes final to write this preview. Utah State has been having some of the same troubles that Marquette has had this year, namely in the shot differential department. In their three matches as of this writing, they’ve being outshot 50-18, which is a 10 shot per game difference. That’s not good! They got outshot 15-4 by the Coyotes, and their goal was their only shot on net for the entire match.
Rachel Noel played the entirety of their first match of the year, but Diera Walton has played every minute in net since then. It’s still a very small sample size for both women, of course, but Walton’s save percentage of .727 beats out Noel’s .667. This is what happens when South Dakota State only manages three shots on goal, of course.
The Aggies return both women who scored more than one goal from last season. Ashley Cardozo had a team high 10 points in 2018 on three goals and four assists, while Sara Noel had four goals for eight points. It’s still early, but freshman Sid Barlow leads USU in shots so far with six on the year.
Utah State was picked to finish ninth in the 12 team Mountain West this season. Combine that with their results so far, and you’d think that this should be a match that Marquette can win. However, Colorado State was picked 10th in the MWC, and they beat Marquette fairly easily in the 2019 season opener.