Don’t look now, but Marquette women’s soccer has won six of their last seven matches.
In fact, they’re a rough (but fair) handball call in the 90th minute of that seventh match away from perhaps holding a seven match unbeaten streak. Not too shabby for a MU team that was staring at seven straight kind of lousy halves of soccer earlier this year that left them at 1-3-0 to start the campaign.
In fact, these three straight wins have placed Marquette in a tie for second place in the Big East right now. Xavier is also 3-1-0 in the league, and both the Golden Eagles and the Musketeers are just one point behind 3-0-1 Butler.... which happens to be the team that was the beneficiary of that 90th minute handball call against Marquette.
I’m not trying to tell you that the Golden Eagles are on the edge of winning the Big East, that’s a silly thing to say. However, I am going to say that they are in shouting distance of first place and Thursday’s match will bring MU to the halfway point of the league schedule. There are obviously much worse places to be than “one point behind first place heading into Match #5 Of 10,” and so we’ll gladly take this for the time being.
With matches #5 and #6 coming up over the next four days, it’s a big time for Marquette to solidify their spot in the table. Both of their opponents are currently in the bottom half of the league’s standings, and so it’s a perfect spot for MU to make sure that they stay in front of said opponents. Sure, the Golden Eagles have the advantage of an extra match played to get to nine points right now, but when you have the advantage in sports, it’s important to not let up.
It’s also important to take advantage of the chances that you have. Xavier and Georgetown appear to have established themselves as the top two teams in the league through the first 10-ish matches of this fall season, and Marquette has not played either one yet. Those matches are yet to come in the final four of the season, and it’s probably in MU’s best interest to secure points in the standings before they get to either the Musketeers or the Hoyas.
Big East Match #5: at Connecticut Huskies (5-5-0, 1-2-0 Big East)
Marquette is 6-2-1 all time against Connecticut. Both of UConn’s wins were in the first three meetings in the series, and the Golden Eagles are 5-0-1 since then, including a 4-1 victory in the most recent meeting, which happened to be in the 2012 Big East tournament quarterfinals.
I have identified a trend in UConn’s results so far this season. Stick with me here for a moment:
- In their five victories, UConn has outscored their opponents 11-3, including two shutouts.
- In their five losses, UConn has been outscored by their opponents 17-1, including four shutouts.
It may seem overly simple, but it really applies to the Huskies right now: If you stop them from scoring, you win. Their only goal in a loss came back in their third match of the season on August 29th, and Connecticut tallied in the 78th minute while already down 3-0 to Boston College. If you want to boil that down to only conference play? 2-1 in their win, 0-6 in their losses.
The problem such as it is for the Marquette defense is that there isn’t really anyone to focus on to stop the scoring. Three women are tied for the team lead in goals this season with two each and eight women in total have scored a goal. Jaydah Bedoya is one of the three with two goals and she is leading the team with 27 shots. Over half of Bedoya’s shots have been on goal this season, and the same can be said for Duda Santin and Jada Konte, the other two women with two goals. They’re getting quality shots, just not ones that go in the net. Bedoya and Santin also have two assists each on the season, so they can create without shooting.
Kaitlyn Mahoney has started all 10 contests for UConn this season and since she went all 90 minutes against Butler last time out, we can anticipate that the sophomore from New York will get the nod again on Thursday night. Mahoney does stop 75% of shots on goal, which is respectable, but she seems like she has a field defense problem. While the Huskies are only allowing less than 12 shots per game, Mahoney is averaging nearly four saves per match while letting in 1.80 goals per 90 minutes. You can score against this Huskies team, although I suppose that -16 goal differential in their losses tells that story, too.
Big East Match #6: at Providence Friars (6-3-2, 1-1-1 Big East)
We should note that the Friars have a Thursday afternoon road contest between now and Sunday, as you would expect since MU has a Thursday match, too. PC will be in PA to face Villanova, so we’ll see what happens in that one.
5-2-1 is a pretty decent non-conference slate for the Friars, particularly since one of the losses was on the road against #22 Rutgers. Honestly, they’ve had a pretty good start to league play as they’ve already faced Xavier and Georgetown, the two teams currently getting votes in the United Soccer Coaches poll. They went 0-1-1 with the draw coming against the Hoyas, and getting a point there is a pretty great result even if GU is drawing with half their opponents this season.
We have to point out that Providence has gone to overtime in all three of their Big East matches so far this season. Xavier scored in the 95th minute in a 1-0 match where PC outshot the Musketeers 15-7 in regulation, while Kyla Gallagher scored for Providence in the 94th minute for a 1-0 home win against Creighton. I don’t know what it says about the Friars and the Big East, but we can easily say that scoring regulation goals is good for Marquette here.
Shutting down Meg Hughes is priority #1 for Marquette in this match. The 5’6” sophomore from Massachusetts has the team lead in goals with six and is tied with two more teammates for the team lead in assists with three. That’s nine of PC’s 22 goals on the year that involved Hughes in one way or another, and she’s doing that while averaging just over 3.3 shots per match. Gillian Kenney is one of the other two with three assists, and it appears that Marquette is going to have to be paying attention to the scorer’s table for this one. Kenney has only started in two of Providence’s 11 matches and has only played in 550 of their over 1,000 minutes on the year. She still has four assists to go with those three assists, so the freshman from Massachusetts is making a big impact in very little playing time. For what it’s worth, she did post a season high 73 minutes played last time out against Georgetown.
Emma Bodmer is Providence’s starting keeper, and she stops 79% of shots on goal. the 5’10” New Jersey native has played all but 25 minutes this season, and those 25 minutes were split across three matches. Giving up four goals in 83 minutes against Rutgers is still weighing on her goals-against average as it currently sits at 1.15. Since that match on August 29th, Bodmer has only allowed more than one goal once. That was against Wisconsin, and that was also five matches ago.