We’re back! Or, more accurately, Marquette women’s soccer is back!
The Golden Eagles started out the 2021 spring season with a pair of wins back on February 5th and February 7th, but they have not played an official match since then. They have played two exhibitions along the way to stay busy and on point. We haven’t talked about those here all that much (or at all) because exhibitions mean exhibition rules agreed to by both coaches, and so who can say what was and was not a good showing of what Marquette soccer is this season.
With that said, Marquette did win both of the exhibitions, with both coming at home. On February 14th, they downed Loyola Chicago 1-0 on a 50th minute goal from Elsi Twombly. One week later, the Golden Eagles prevailed 4-1 over Northern Illinois. There’s no official recap from MU for the proceedings, and the NIU recap only mentions who scored their goal but nothing about when it happened in the match.
Winning is good! Winning 1-0 in an exhibition, even with possibly altered rules, is very good! At the very least, we can infer that new head coach Frank Pelaez has the team moving in the direction that he wants them to go.
That’s good news, because things get real for the Golden Eagles now. There’s nothing left on their schedule but the eight matches of Big East play. It’s two each against Midwest Division foes Creighton, DePaul, Butler, and Xavier, one home and one on the road. The matches were supposed to be in one order the first time and then the exact same order, just with a flipped location, for the second go-round, but Marquette having to postpone Thursday’s game against Creighton for COVID reasons has thrown a wrench in that.
We should also probably mention that it’s weird that Marquette could not play on Thursday because of COVID reasons but they’re going to be okay to play on Sunday. I don’t know how much of “Thursday was at home in the bubble and Sunday is on the road outdoors” has to do with that, but it’s definitely odd and slightly disconcerting. We’ll see how much of Marquette’s usual lineup and subs are available when things get started on Sunday.
Back to actual soccer discussion....
Only two teams out of the five in the Midwest Division will advance to the Big East tournament in mid-April. Eight matches might seem like a lot, but it’s one less than Marquette has been playing in league action the past few years. Points will be at something of a premium, so it will definitely be in MU’s best interest to put their best foot forward right out of the gate.
That starts on Sunday afternoon against a team that is hard to get a read on at this point of the year.....
Big East Match #1: at DePaul Blue Demons (1-1-0)
Marquette is 15-6-2 all time against DePaul, and I keep being surprised by that every time I see it. I keep thinking about the Blue Demons as the team that was challenging the Golden Eagles in the early to mid-2010s, but the fact of the matter is that up through 2013, MU was 13-3-0 against DePaul. Since then, oof. 2-3-2 in the last seven encounters, and MU has not defeated the Blue Demons since a 2-0 victory in 2017.
DePaul’s win so far this season came in the only official non-conference match they’ll play this season. They went out to Valparaiso and came back with a 2-1 victory in a match where it appears that they looked like the better side but barely got the W. They outshot Valpo 14-4, including a sixth minute goal by Morgan Turner, but Kelsie James leveled the match in the 85th minute and only a goal with 14 seconds left in regulation handed the Blue Demons the victory.
In match #2 on the year, the Blue Demons gave up goals in the 7th, 13th, and 35th minutes to Butler before breaking through on their end in the 75th minute. The title of the official DePaul recap: “Blue Demons Comeback Falls Short Against Butler.” I mean, okay, sure, DePaul outshot Butler 10-5.... but Butler scored their third goal on their fifth shot. Yes, nine of DePaul’s 10 shots came after the third goal. Not scoring until the 75th doesn’t really qualify as a comeback attempt when you lose by two. Did I watch the match? No. Can I be critical of the writing? Yes.
They also have a 3-0 exhibition loss to Vanderbilt in there before the Butler game. I’m not going to say anything about that one because exhibitions are weird...... but losing 3-0 in a match with 13 total shots isn’t great.
It’s nothing but ones in the goals and assists columns for DePaul this year. Three women have each tallied one goal and two women have each tallied one assist. We already mentioned Morgan Turner as a goal-scorer, and she was one of DePaul’s two preseason all-Big East honorees. The other was Kristin Boos, who has fired off four shots while playing in both matches so far.
DePaul head coach Erin Chastain has used two goalies so far this season, giving each of them the full 90 minutes in each game. Elena Milam took the Valpo game, while Mollie Eriksson played against Butler last time out. Neither woman has made a save yet this season.