Right now, the Golden Eagles are 2-2-1 in league action, and as you could probably expect, this has them right about in the middle of the standings. They’re in a tie for fifth place, which is actually directly in the middle of the 11 team standings. They’re hovering back and forth between fifth and sixth depending on how you look at it.
There does appear to be a bit of separation in the ol’ standings at the moment, and Marquette does seem to be on the bad end of it. Here’s what the top four spots look like right now:
- Georgetown, 12 points
- Villanova, 12 points
- Providence, 11 points
- St. John’s, 10 points
And then you get the Blue Demons and the Golden Eagles with seven. This is, of course, a little disappointing, as Marquette had a win over Providence in their hands three matches ago, but gave up two very late goals and had to settle for a tie. If the Golden Eagles had closed that one out, they’d be at nine points right now, just one back of both PC and SJU. That’s still in fifth place, though, so it’s not like it would have radically altered where things are at the moment.
This week, Marquette has two matches against, if you squint hard enough, teams behind them in the standings. In fact, the next three are before they close out against St. John’s and Georgetown. It’s time for Marquette to make a statement about where they belong in the league table. The Golden Eagles made a prominent pronouncement when they prevailed over the Bluejays back on Saturday, but Creighton are sitting in the bottom of the table. That was a “you gotta win this one” match for MU.
Wednesday’s match is against a team without a Big East win to their name. Marquette has to do the same thing to the next opponent that they did to Creighton: Impose their will, win convincingly. After that, it’s a Saturday night home date against their physically closest league rival as well as the team that’s currently locked in a tie with them. That match is either going to be to break that tie or for one team to create separation after Wednesday’s outcomes.
Let’s hope that one team is Marquette!
Big East Match #6: at Connecticut Huskies (4-4-1, 0-3-1 Big East)
Marquette is 1-7-1 all time against Connecticut. With the exception of the first ever match in 1991, all of the meetings took place while the Golden Eagles and the Huskies were both in the Big East between 2005 and 2012. MU lost the first six meetings, so they’re 1-1-1 in the last three, and the win came in the 2012 encounter. In fact, that match might actually have been the biggest win in program history or at the very least was the biggest regular season program history.
The Huskies come into this one on a three match winless streak, and they’re only 1-3-1 in their last five with the win ending up as 1-0 against Dartmouth back on September 21st. As you can see and as you’ve probably guessed the three losses as of late are all in Big East play, and so is the draw. In fact, in four combined Big East matches to this point of the year, UConn is getting outscored 5-2. Maybe good news defensively, but bad news offensively as they’ve been shutout twice, including in their most recent match against Villanova.
There’s still a lot of soccer left to played for the Huskies as they only have four league matches in so far, but with just one point so far, they’re in a bad position when it comes to getting one of the top six spots in the league for the Big East tournament. Conversely, since UConn has been struggling against BE foes, this is a perfect time for Marquette to bolster their own position.
Okem Chime is UConn’s most dangerous goal scorer so far this year with three in the net. He’s one of just two men who have scored more than once, and top point getter Jayden Reid is the other. Reid has two goals, but he has a team high four assists to get him to eight points to beat out Chime’s six. Reid also has to share that assists lead with Moussa Wade, who has one goal to go with his helpers. Wade might actually be the #1 guy on Marquette’s scouting report though, as he’s the only Husky with more than 20 shots on the season so far with 24. The heavy majority of UConn’s 121 shots this season have come from just five men total, so that’s a good news (focus on defending these guys only) and a bad news (it’s hard to focus on five things at once) thing at the same time.
Whatever else is going on with UConn elsewhere on the field, we can expect to see Jahmali Waite in net. He’s played every minute so far for Connecticut, so there’s not much chance of that changing here. While they’re are winless as a team in Big East play, you can’t say it’s the defense letting them down as Waite has a goals-against average of just 0.63. It’s hard to score against UConn, but with just 2.44 saves per game and a save percentage of 79%, it seems it’s almost more the field defense making it hard as opposed to Waite making play after play to keep the ball out of the net.
Big East Match #7: vs DePaul Blue Demons (6-4-1, 2-1-1 Big East)
Marquette is a whopping 29-6-1 all time against DePaul. The two teams have been squaring off since 1982 and MU won 22 of the first 23 encounters with only the lone draw in the series in 1994 messing up that streak. Between 2004 and 2017, things turned in DePaul’s direction, but the Golden Eagles have won each of the last four meetings including both encounters in the spring season.
If you’re reading this Wednesday morning or at least before Saturday, keep in mind that DePaul does have a Wednesday afternoon contest with Seton Hall in Chicago before they tangle with Marquette. That’s not going to change much of what I’m about to say, but it does have the potential to affect the fact that MU and DePaul are in a tie for fifth place in the league right now.
A 60th minute goal on the road against then-#25 Providence salvaged a draw for the Blue Demons in their last match. That makes them 1-2-1 in their last four instead of the obviously worse 1-3-0. It would have been hard to fault them for the loss given the Friars’ ranked status, and you can’t fault DePaul for their 3-1 loss to #1 Georgetown either. That match was 2-0 after 30 minutes, and 2-1 at the half, and then the Hoyas cranked up the defense to hold DePaul to just one shot in the final 45 minutes. It happens! Beating the #1 team in the country is hard!
While DePaul is only +2 in goal differential as a team, they have a pair of gents who have each tallied four times to lead the way so far this season. Marek Gonda and Jack Richards are the two, and Gonda has added two assists to edge out Richards and his lone helper for the current points lead on the roster. Jake Fuderer hasn’t scored yet this season after tallying four in the spring season, but he does have a team high three assists.
Gandhi Cruz is your likely starter in net as he’s played every minute this season so far. He’s allowing a bit more than a goal per 90 minutes, so the odds of scoring are in Marquette’s favor. DePaul does allow themselves to get outshot regularly, so that’s going MU’s way as well. Cruz has a perfectly middle of the road save percentage of .764, so focus on quality shots and hope for the best, I say.
Finally, we have to talk about the lingering sensation in my head that DePaul/Marquette matches turn into pretty much a fistfight at some point. Not literally, just in the foul department. For whatever it’s worth, DePaul is fouling less than their opponents this season, and in particular, Marquette (14.36) is more foul prone than the Blue Demons (11.36) this year.