I have elected to learn my lesson from last week. Thus, this article will contain a preview of both of Marquette women’s soccer’s upcoming matches. The “recap the previous one and then preview the next one” was the only thing that made sense the way things went a week ago, and, well, the spectre of more big MU athletics news casts a shadow over this week as well. It’s best to save as much time as we possibly can around here juuuuuuuuust in case.
There are just four matches left in Marquette’s regular season, one against each of MU’s Big East Midwest Division opponents. After playing everybody once, the Golden Eagles are in a tie for second place with a winning percentage of .500. We’re going by winning percentage this season on the off chance that not every match gets played due to the pandemic. Oddly enough, Marquette’s losses are to the teams currently sitting in first and last place in the standings. In fact, Marquette is Creighton’s only win at all this season, Big East or otherwise.
This week/weekend, Marquette gets to tangle with a team they’ve already beaten and the team in first place. As things continue to get odd in terms of circumstance, the first place team, Butler, is coming off a loss to MU’s Thursday afternoon opponent. What does that mean for Marquette? Probably nothing, as they were going to have to dig deep to beat Butler anyway even if they weren’t already annoyed by losing a match.
Four chances left to go this season to decide who gets the top two spots in the Midwest Division and advance to the Big East conference tournament. Two this week, one each of the next two weeks. The next three are all at home, and MU’s losses did come on the road. Will that be any sort of benefit as the Golden Eagles look to close out the season strong after starting out with three straight wins but then losing two of their last three? We’ll see!
Big East Match #5: vs DePaul Blue Demons (3-2-0, 2-2-0 Big East)
Marquette is 16-6-2 all time against DePaul. The 2-0 win for the Golden Eagles in Chicago earlier this year was the first win for them in the series since 2017 and evens out the record over the last eight meetings at 3-3-2.
Since losing to Marquette to drop to 0-2-0 in Big East play back on March 7, DePaul has picked up back-to-back wins in their last two contests, both of which were in Chicago. First, it was a 2-1 overtime win over Creighton that had the Blue Demons scoring in the 5th and 102nd minutes. After that, in their most recent contest, DePaul knocked off Butler, 1-0. The Blue Demons got a 25th minute from Mikaela Hoard in that one to hand Butler their first loss of the season overall. It was a well-earned victory, as DePaul outshot Butler 12-4 overall and 5-2 in shots on goal. After halftime — meaning when both teams had a chance to reset and reorganize knowing that DePaul was up one — DePaul outshot the Bulldogs 4-1.
DePaul has only scored six goals in their five matches this season. Morgan Turner is the only Blue Demon who has scored more than once, and she is sitting on two goals. While the goals (and her one assist) aren’t really enough data to tell us that she’s the one that MU’s defense needs to keep an eye on, her shots are. Turner has 18 shots this season which leads the team. Kristin Boos is the only other Blue Demon north of 10 shots in five games and she has 11. Given that DePaul hasn’t scored a ton of goals, it’s not surprising that no one else is shooting a lot..... but as a team, DePaul shoots an awful lot. They are outshooting their opponents 61-27 on the year, which works out to 12 to 5 per game. This isn’t surprising to Marquette fans, as MU got outshot 16-6 by DePaul earlier this season.
Mollie Eriksson has been DePaul’s primary goalkeeper this season, playing in four of their five matches. She was the keeper last time out against Butler, so I presume we’ll see her again. Eriksson has made just six saves in four games but remember: DePaul is spending their matches controlling possession and putting shots up on the other end. Still, Eriksson has only saved half of the shots on goal that DePaul does allow, so as was the case in the first meeting, if Marquette can cause problems and dysfunction in the final third, they should be able to find a way to put it in the net.
Big East Match #6: vs Butler Bulldogs (7-1-0, 4-1-0 Big East)
Marquette is 3-6-1 all time against Butler. After losing earlier this season in Indianapolis, the Golden Eagles have now lost the last four meetings in the series with the Bulldogs. Since the meeting earlier this season was a shutout, that means MU has been shut out by Butler in four straight matches. MU’s last goal against the Bulldogs came as a golden goal by Carrie Madden in the 2016 meeting that secured Markus Roeders’ 300th career victory.
The big news for Butler is the news that we mentioned in the DePaul preview area: The Blue Demons defeated the Bulldogs for Butler’s first loss of the year back on March 21st. Just like that was DePaul’s most recent game, it was also Butler’s most recent game, and that will still be true when the Bulldogs get to Milwaukee on Sunday. Although, as we did the first time Marquette and Butler squared off, Butler is a very questionable 7-1-0, as in “two of their wins are against non-Division 1 opponents” questionable. And also “they beat those two opponents by a combined score of 17-2” questionable.
Still, that leaves their goal differential at 16-3 in their other six matches, and that’s pretty great. Anja Savich leads the team in goals with seven, but she’s only scored once outside of those non-D1 matches. Alli Leonard is second on the team in goals with five, and only one of those came in the non-D1 matches. Marquette is going to have to respect Katie Soderstrom on the field as she has 27 shots on the year to lead the Bulldogs in that department. She also has four goals and four assists, although three of those goals came in a 4-1 win against Dayton and two of the assists came in the non-D1 games.
With all of that said, Marquette lost 1-0 on a goal in the 84th minute to Butler in the first meeting this season. Sure, Butler outshot the Golden Eagles 21-5 and 14-1 in the first half alone, but it was a 1-0 loss even with Butler’s otherwise large shot differential looming in the background the whole time. You don’t really want to be outshot 21-5, because that’s how you let a lot of goals in, but when it takes 84 minutes to figure out out to put a goal in against you because only five of the 21 shots were on frame, that’s also not terrible. We’ll have to wait to see how MU adjusts further here, since the shot differential was a much more reasonable 7-4 once Marquette head coach Frank Pelaez was able to reorganize at halftime.
Even with the first loss of the season coming in last week’s window, Butler’s Stephanie Rodriguez was named Big East Goalkeeper of the Week for the second straight week back on Monday. She made a season high eight saves to preserve a clean sheet in a 4-0 win over Creighton and also made three saves in the loss to DePaul. She has four shutouts in eight games this season, which includes last time around against Marquette. Rodriguez’s goals against average has dipped down to just 0.63 and she’s stopping 84% of shots on goal. Butler is holding teams to under 10 shots total per game, which goes a long way towards making Rodriguez’s life easier, but she’s also averaging over three saves per game now.