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Marquette Men’s Soccer Preview: vs Creighton Bluejays

Hooray! The start of Big East play!

Big East Basketball Tournament - Quarterfinals Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

And now, a meme.

Three games, three wins, three goals, all by three different men, all in overtime.

I think it’s fantastic that Marquette men’s soccer is 3-0-0 for the first time since 2012 and has their longest streak without allowing a goal to start a season in program history.

I think it is terrible for my stress levels — not to mention the stress levels of the Marquette coaching staff — that these things keep going to overtime with no one scoring a goal. I also think the final result is covering up things for Marquette a little bit. Let’s be honest about what has happened in the 287-plus minutes of soccer this season: Marquette is underwater in the shots department. They have been outshot 35-29 on the season, and if there’s one thing I know about soccer, it’s that you can’t score a goal when the other team is taking a shot at your net.

Now maybe this is all some early season jitters and hiccups that are getting shaken out. Marquette has eight guys who have started all three matches, and those eight guys are all averaging at least 80 minutes per match. After the goalkeeping situation was up in the air in the first two games, Chandler Hallwood went the distance last time out against Saint Louis. Let’s all cross our fingers that this is the case, and now that head coach Louis Bennett has seen what his men have this year, things will start tilting in MU’s favor a little bit. After all, that shot discrepancy is actually from match #1 when Loyola Chicago outshot MU 13-7. It was +1 to Marquette against Northern Illinois and +1 to Saint Louis last time out after Zyan Andrade’s golden goal went into the net.

The shots are getting evened out. The next step is to definitively outshoot the other guys, and hopefully, with a little luck, regulation goals will follow along with that.

Big East Match #1: vs Creighton Bluejays (0-0-0)

Date: Saturday, February 20, 2021
Time: 4pm Central
Location: Andy Glockner Memorial Bubble, Valley Fields, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Streaming: GoMarquette.com
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteSoccer

Marquette is 7-8-1 all time against Creighton. Since the two teams have been in the Big East together, the Golden Eagles have compiled a record of 2-5-1 against the Bluejays. MU has not beaten Creighton since October 25, 2017.

As you can see from that record up top there, this will be the first match of the season for the Bluejays. They haven’t even had an exhibition match for us to try to glean some information, so we’ll just go with what we know from past action.

Last time we saw Creighton in action, they went 8-7-2 overall and 4-4-1 in Big East play. That earned them the #4 seed in the Big East tournament, but an 84th minute penalty kick sent them to a first round loss to #5 seed Butler. That meant they missed the NCAA tournament for the third straight season, and that’s their longest stretch without a tourney appearance since going from the start of the program in 1979 up through 1991 without appearing in the tourney at all. In fact, Creighton missed just one NCAA tournament between 1992 and 2016, so this is one hell of a dry streak for them.

Now, the Bluejays are picked to finish second in the Big East’s Midwest Division this year. This means that they’re projected to be one of the two teams in the Division to advance to the conference tournament. This automatically makes this a pretty big match for Marquette, since the Golden Eagles were slotted to finish fourth out of five squads. If MU can squeak a result from the Bluejays, that gets them one step closer than expected to one of those top two spots. Unfortunately for Marquette — see above where we talked about MU’s offensive output this season — Creighton’s Paul Kruse was named Preseason Co-Goalkeeper of the Year in the Big East. In fact, since he shared the honors with Georgetown’s Giannis Nikopolidis, this means that Kruse is the Midwest Division Preseason Goalkeeper of the Year. Going up against the best keeper in the division isn’t a great way to get on the board with points in your first match, but that’s the task in front of Marquette.

It’s going to be an interesting year for second year head coach Johnny Torres down in Omaha, as he returns only five starters and 11 letterwinners from the 2019 squad. Three guys tied for the returning team lead in goals with two each, while Musa Qongo is probably the guy that Marquette most has to watch after he recorded four assists in 2019. Two of the departing starters were Yudai Tashiro and Luke Haakenson, who accounted for exactly half of Creighton’s 22 goals in the 2019 season. Someone or multiple someones are going to have to step up big time for the Bluejays this season. Unfortunately for Marquette’s defensive structure, they have no way of knowing exactly where Torres will go with things since this is Match #1 of the year for Creighton. Daniel Espeleta is the most likely target as he leads all returning players with 31 shots the last time that the Jays took the field.