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Marquette Women’s Soccer Preview: at Xavier

One more for the road this season.

Seton Hall v Xavier Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

I regret to inform you that this will be the final Marquette women’s soccer preview of the spring season.

The official Marquette preview for this match informs us that the Golden Eagles were eliminated from contention for one of the two Midwest Division spots in the Big East conference tournament after losing 2-1 in overtime to Creighton last time out. MU is 5-4-0 on the year and 3-4-0 in the league. Marquette could still end up in a tie with Creighton for second place in the league at 4-4-0, but they would lose the tiebreaker by way of being swept by the Bluejays in the regular season.

So this will be it for the year for Marquette, but it’s still kind of a big deal for the Golden Eagles. Each of the past two seasons ended with a losing record for Marquette, both in league play and overall. A win, or heck, even a draw guarantees that MU will wrap up Frank Pelaez’s first season in charge with more wins than losses. They have to win to finish the Big East slate at 4-4-0 which is not a winning season, but it is also not a losing season, so one step at a time.

It’s been a quick season, just 10 official matches instead of the 18 or so that we’re used to seeing, but it’s still been fun to see Marquette women’s soccer back in action. Let’s all hope they go out on a high note here.

Big East Match #8: at Xavier Musketeers (3-5-0, 2-3-0 Big East)

Date: Thursday, April 8, 2021
Time: Noon Central
Location: XU Soccer Complex, Cincinnati, Ohio
Streaming: Big East Digital Network on YouTube
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWSOC

Marquette is 8-2-0 all time against Xavier. MU’s 3-1 win at home earlier this season snapped a two game skid against the Musketeers.

Xavier was -6 on the ol’ goal differential when the Golden Eagles hosted them back on March 18th, and things have not gotten much better since. After losing 3-1 to MU (-8 now), they lost 1-0 on a 26th minute goal to Creighton (-9), and followed that up with a 3-2 overtime win at DePaul (back to -8). It would have gotten worse for the Musketeers had their match this past Saturday against Butler gone off as scheduled. The Bulldogs beat them 4-0 earlier this season, so they dodged that one.

Stopping Xavier’s offense is simple: Cut off Molly McLaughlin. The junior from Indiana 1) is one of three Xavier players to start all eight matches, 2) is the only Musketeer with more than one goal on the year, and she has two, 3) has more than three times as many shots (30) as the #2 shooter on the squad (9). Easier said than done, but if Marquette can mark McLaughlin as she comes across midfield, things should be okay. Heck, MU just has to make it hard for her. She led XU with three shots in the first meeting this season, and Marquette still won handily.

Olivia Jenkins has been the starting Xavier keeper all season. The key word there, though, is starting, as she hasn’t played every minute. Freshman Ashley Bowles got half an hour of burn...... against Marquette earlier this season. I’m not saying that head coach Nate Lie should read a lot into his decision to lift his starter after an hour against the Golden Eagles last time around, but I am saying that it wouldn’t be the craziest thing in the world for Bowles to get the start. There’s nothing about Jenkins’ 1.92 goals against average and .531 save percentage that says “is doing an amazing job out there,” and if she really struggled against MU last time, going with Bowles does make a lot of sense.