After last week’s contests which went into the record books as a split with Georgetown, the Golden Eagles are now 2-4 in league play with four games to go. They’re in fifth place in the Big East, half a game back of both Villanova and Georgetown at 3-3. This is still clearly shooting distance of a top four finish and one of the spots in the semifinals.
The problem with that is Marquette has to play the unbeaten and ranked team that’s in first place this weekend. Twice. Marquette has only ever beaten a ranked team once in program history. Odds are largely speaking against the Golden Eagles getting their second one this coming weekend.
If they do in fact end up losing twice to a ranked team to wrap up the home end of the schedule, then Marquette is going to need help getting to the Big East tournament. Heck, even if they pull a split from this weekend, they still might need help. A split would make 5-5 Marquette’s best possible record (and likely, as 0-7 Butler would be the only team left on the schedule), but since Marquette split with both Villanova and Georgetown already, that would mean either hoping the Wildcats and/or Hoyas go down in flames as the season wraps up or crossing a whole bunch of fingers that tiebreakers work out in MU’s favor.
So. Best foot forward this weekend, and hopefully Marquette can put themselves in position to make things happen next weekend.
Oh! And it’s Senior Weekend! The Golden Eagles have 15 seniors who will be honored before Sunday’s game, including the four Super Seniors who returned to Marquette after the NCAA granted them an extra year of eligibility due to the pandemic.
Big East Game #7: vs RV/#19 Denver Pioneers (8-1, 6-0 Big East)
Big East Game #8: vs RV/#19 Denver Pioneers (8-1, 6-0 Big East)
Marquette is 0-4 all time against Denver. All four meetings have come with both teams as members of the Big East. Three of the four contests have been in Colorado, so this weekend will even the series out with three in each location. This will be the second and third straight meeting where the Pioneers are ranked in the IWLCA poll and the third and fourth times overall in the series.
The Pioneers started off the year ranked #14 in the IWLCA poll, but then dropped their opener, 14-7, on the road to Colorado. They’ve won eight straight since then, taking home games against Arizona State and San Diego State before sweeping Butler, Georgetown, and UConn in the first three weekends of Big East competition. They flew past the Bulldogs with ease, outscoring them 34-8. Georgetown put up a bit more resistance, going down 15-11 in the first game but 15-5 in the second.
Connecticut provided the biggest test for the Pios since that loss to Colorado, as it took three overtime periods before Bea Behrins popped in the game winner for the 14-13 victory in the Friday game. Then, this past Sunday, the Huskies led 4-3 at halftime before Denver notched the first four goals of the second half on their way to an 11-7 win.
That has Denver at 6-0 in Big East play and holding a two game lead in the standings over the second place Huskies. The Pioneers will be playing for at least a share of the Big East regular season title this weekend, and if UConn falls to Villanova in either of their games, then Denver could wrap up sole possession of first place in the league if they take the sweep from Marquette in Milwaukee.
As you probably guessed from the fact that she was the one with the overtime game winner, Bea Behrins is your top scorer for Denver so far this season. She leads the squad with 28 goals in nine games, so yes, she averages a hat trick per outing, and she’s top in points at 37 on the year. Eliza Radochonski is a more than capable secondary shooting option for head coach Liza Kelly with 20 goals on the year. Hannah Liddy and Kailey Conry provide the dimension for Denver’s attack with the two women going for 19 and 17 assists each. Combined, they have accounted for 36 of DU’s 61 assists on the season, and they usually get you a goal per game, too.
Molly Little and Gracie DeRose provide the Pioneers with some quality work in the defensive end. Both women average more than two caused turnovers per game. Amelia Cole will be the one backstopping the defense with starts in eight of Denver’s nine games. She’s allowing just 7.83 goals per 60 minutes, which is pretty darn great. She has a save percentage of .479, which is second best in the Big East behind only Marquette’s Sophia Leva.