After Sunday’s double overtime loss to Butler, Marquette women’s soccer finds themselves at 5-3-0 on the season and 3-3-0 in Big East play. Does it sound great? Maybe not, but unbeaten in non-conference action and 3-1-0 against the teams in the Midwest Division of the conference that aren’t in first place is pretty good.
There is still work left to do with two conference matches remaining before the regular season ends. The top two teams in the Midwest Division will advance to the Big East tournament, and right now, Marquette sits in second place in the division behind only the Butler squad that MU just lost to. That match going to overtime makes it an opportunity to shore up the Golden Eagles’ postseason hopes, but that’s behind them now. All first year head coach Frank Pelaez and his charges can do is focus on their remaining two matches to lock up one of the two postseason berths.
A win on Thursday against Creighton would be a pretty big deal. Handing the Bluejays their fourth loss of the season in league action would guarantee that CU can’t finish any better than .500 while also pushing the Golden Eagles back above the 50/50 mark in the winning percentage column. It wouldn’t guarantee Marquette a playoff spot, not quite yet, but it would certainly go a long way towards doing that.
In addition to all of that, Marquette has an opportunity to respond to their worst loss of the season. We’ll get into it in a minute while previewing the Bluejays, but outside of a loss to Creighton earlier this year, MU’s only losses are 1) on an 84th minute goal on the road against Butler and 2) in double overtime at home against Butler. Given that the Bulldogs are 8-1-0 on the year, all you can really do about those losses is throw your hands up in the air and say, “well, it was close.” You can’t say that about the Creighton match in Omaha earlier this season, but MU can make up for that if they come away with the win on Thursday afternoon.
Big East Match #7: vs Creighton Bluejays (2-4-0, 2-3-0 Big East)
Marquette is 5-4-3 all time against Creighton. The series as of late has not gone in the Golden Eagles’ favor. Marquette is just 1-2-2 in the last five encounters, and they’re winless in the last three after the match in Omaha earlier this season.
Skylar Heinrich and a penalty kick did the damage to Marquette on the road back on March 21st. Heinrich scored a goal in the 12th minute to put Marquette in the trailing position, and she made it a brace in the 64th minute. In between all of that, Aida Kardovic converted a PK in the 50th minute to give the Bluejays three goals against the Golden Eagles. It turns out they would only need the first one, as Creighton outshot Marquette 14-5 overall and 9-1 in shots on goal to shut MU out on that day. As you can probably guess from that, it could have been a lot worse if Lauren Schill hadn’t made six saves, three in each half, to limit CU to just the three in the back of the net.
At the time, that was Creighton’s first win of the year. Since then, they’ve only played one official match, a 1-0 victory on the road against Xavier. The goal came in the 26th minute, and a straight red handed out to the Musketeers’ Olivia Lawson in the 73rd minute probably played a part in the Bluejays riding things out to the end. They had an exhibition match on March 28th against Iowa State for their most recent activity, and that ended in a scoreless draw. Or, at least I’m pretty sure it’s an exhibition. Creighton lists it as such on their schedule and did not provide a recap..... but the preview does not explicitly say it was an exhibition, and neither does ISU’s preview or recap or schedule. ISU’s record indicates they only have four draws on the season, though, and this would have been their fifth. Combine that with Creighton not giving themselves a draw in their record, and we’ll say “exhibition,” regard the result as “sure, why not,” and move on.
As you’d expect for a team with two wins and four losses, goals have been hard to come by for the Bluejays this season. Heinrich’s two goals against the Golden Eagles give her the team lead in goals... with two. Three other women have scored once each, which includes Kardovic’s PK against Schill. Even without goals to speak for it this year, Heinrich is the notable name to watch when attempting to scout the Bluejays, as she leads the team in shots with 13 and eight of them have been on frame. Ansley Atkinson is not that far behind Heinrich in shots with 10, but that’s still less than two per match. Creighton gets shots from all over the place, which does make it a little bit hard to defend them while attempting to make sure you mark Heinrich and Atkinson properly.
Keelan Terrell has played most of Creighton’s season in net. She was the starter last time out in an official match against Xavier, but Iowa State’s box score from the exhibition match says that Mikayla Grocki played all 90 against the Cyclones. I presume that was CU head coach Ross Paule gettin his backup some work and that we’ll see Terrell on Thursday in Milwaukee. With a save percentage of just .652 this season, it feels like Marquette should be able to put the ball in the net if they get quality looks against Terrell. However, that 14-5 differential in shots earlier this season tells us that getting said quality looks is easier said that done. As you’d expect, how Marquette adjusts after getting kicked around by Creighton last time around is going to play a part in the result that we see at Valley Fields.