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Marquette Men’s Soccer Preview: vs Xavier

The Golden Eagles return to the Valley after two straight road matches.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Xavier vs Florida State Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

And so, we have reached the finale of Marquette men’s soccer’s first pass through the Big East’s Midwest Division. After Wednesday afternoon, the Golden Eagles will have played each of their divisional foes one time each. So far, Marquette is 1-1-1, with a win against DePaul, a scoreless draw against Butler, and a double overtime loss to Creighton.

I’m not exactly sure how the Big East is dealing with standings in soccer this season. Officially, there’s no column for points in the league standings, but there is a winning percentage column. It seems that they’re handing out half a win for a tie, as Marquette’s 1-1-1 record is tied with 2-2-0 DePaul in winning percentage at .500. One win plus a half a win for a draw is 1.5, divided by three: boom, 50%. I guess that’s fair and equitable when we aren’t sure that the entire league calendar will get played.

It is creating some problems, though. 2-2-0 DePaul should be tied for first with six points with 2-1-0 Creighton, but instead they’re in third place. That’s kind of a big deal since only the top two teams will be advancing to the Big East tournament this season. We’ll see how it plays out when the regular season comes to a close, but for now, it’s a little bit awkward.

Wednesday is a big opportunity for Marquette. Currently, the Big East shows the Golden Eagles in fourth place in the five team Midwest Division. I’m not sure that’s accurate, as it’s actually a tie for third with DePaul, and MU holds a win over the Blue Demons. In any case, Wednesday’s game is against the only team in the division that’s definitively behind Marquette in the standings. If the Golden Eagles have an eye on snagging one of those top two spots in the division and getting to the conference tournament, then picking up the home win against Xavier is going to be a big deal.

It’s going to require a better showing than Marquette put up in their last contest. While the scoreless draw result was fine, the process was not. Butler outshot Marquette 21-8, including 11-2 in the first half and 18-5 in regulation. Six saves in regulation by Chandler Hallwood helped Marquette get to overtime and split the match with the Bulldogs, but MU can’t rely on that working again. Marquette has been outshot 53-26 in Big East matches so far this season. It has mostly worked out for them, as 1-1-1 is a pretty decent record, and even the loss was in double overtime. However, getting doubled up in shots against league opponents is begging for a problem to happen at some point.

Hopefully that point is not on Wednesday afternoon.

Big East Match #4: vs Xavier Musketeers (3-4-1, 0-2-1 Big East)

Date: Wednesday, March 17, 2021
Time: 11am Central
Location: Andy Glockner Memorial Bubble, Valley Fields, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteSoccer

Marquette is 7-3-1 all time against Xavier. The Golden Eagles are unbeaten in the last three matches against the Musketeers and 3-1-1 in the last five dating back to 2016.

Xavier was picked to finish third in the five team Midwest Division this season, but I think they’d probably say that they’re not thrilled with the results they’ve gotten so far. It started okay, drawing with Western Michigan at a neutral site, winning at East Tennessee State, and going down in overtime to then-#12 Kentucky. A 3-1 neutral site loss to Saint Louis came through after a win over Bellarmine, and they absolutely wrecked Chicago State 10-0 on the last day of February. Xavier was up 7-0 at the half in that one.

Since that, though, all down hill. 2-1 loss at Xavier, 3-2 double overtime loss at home to DePaul, and a scoreless draw at Butler is the total of their Big East matches so far, and somehow a scoreless draw is a good result for them. The DePaul loss probably stings pretty hard at this point, as Bryce Curran scored right before halftime to put them up 2-1. The equalizer was just past the hour mark, and DePaul tallied the winner in the 108th minute. That’s an awful lot of time to find a third goal, but they just couldn’t do it. Now they’ve gone over 170 minutes without a goal, and we know Marquette isn’t exactly handing those things out like candy.

Since they beat Chicago State 10-0, you’d think that might require a bit of “well, look” when talking about their offense. Not really, as three players scored two goals each to tie for the team lead. As a result, they have a lot of team goals, but no one particular player is really out of line in terms of how many they’ve scored this season. Karsen Henderlong is one of the three, though, and he is leading the team in goals with seven. Five goals in seven non-CSU matches is still pretty damn good work, and he’s got an assist, too, although that also came against the Cougars. Jerome Jolly has five assists so far this season in eight matches, and only one came in the onslaught against Chicago State.

Matthew Rosenberg has played the majority of time in net for Xavier this season. In fact, the only match he didn’t play in was the Chicago State match. In Xavier’s other seven contests this season, Rosenberg has played every second, posting a goals-against average of 1.47 and a save percentage of .542. In short: If Marquette can generate chances with clean looks at the XU net, they’re probably going to pop one in here. Rosenberg has only made 13 saves in seven appearances, so the issue is getting shots on goal. Xavier is only allowing 8.6 shots per game, but denying Chicago State a single shot is propping that up. Strike that one out, and the average pops up to just short of 10 per game.