Alrighty, we said we’d reset the table for Marquette men’s soccer following Wednesday’s match against DePaul. The Golden Eagles took a 1-0 loss in that match thanks to a late penalty kick by the Blue Demons, so here’s how things stand right now.
Marquette is in last place in the Big East with a record of 0-4-3. With DePaul beating Marquette for their first league win of the season, the Golden Eagles are now the only winless team in the conference. They have three points by way of their three draws. There are three matches left to play, which have a maximum value of nine points in the table. That puts MU’s ceiling for the season at 12.
After the rest of Wednesday’s results, this means that the best Marquette can expect to do this season is finish fourth in the league. Georgetown (16), Xavier (13), and Seton Hall (13) have all eclipsed the best that the Golden Eagles can reach.
If Marquette loses on Saturday night, they will be eliminated from the Big East tournament. That would drop their point cap to just nine, and combine that with the three points that Creighton would get from the win, and MU would no longer be able to reach the top six. We don’t even need to project any other matches, as Butler and Providence are already sitting on 10 points.
I’m not going to get into the math of what a draw with the Bluejays would do for Marquette’s chances in the standings. It starts getting hinky and weird relative to a bunch of other finishes in the league, but let’s put it this way: It wouldn’t be a very good idea. The point is simple: Win, and stay alive for one of three remaining available spots in the conference tournament. Lose, and the Golden Eagles are just playing out the string the rest of the way.
Big East Match #8: vs Creighton Bluejays (5-3-5, 2-2-3 Big East)
Marquette is 9-9-1 all time against Creighton. The series has been evened up by the Golden Eagles recording victories in each of the last two meetings after the Bluejays held MU without a win for four straight encounters before that. Last year’s meeting in Omaha went 3-1 for Marquette.
Creighton comes into Saturday night in need of a win to shore up their own conference tournament positioning. Quite honestly, part of the reason that Marquette’s situation is still looking kind of nice is because they get to play both of the teams currently tied for sixth place in their final three matches of the regular season, and the Bluejays are one of the two. Creighton went to a draw with St. John’s, the other team in the tie, back on October 8th, so their tiebreaker, if needed, currently favors the Johnnies since SJU beat Georgetown and Creighton did not.
The Jays are coming off a 4-2 win over Butler on Wednesday night in Omaha, which was a very big deal for them in the standings. They had been on a three match winless streak, including that draw with the Red Storm, so things were starting to scoot out of their control. Things did not start out great in that match with the Bulldogs getting a penalty kick in the 10th minute, but Creighton rallied, not once, but twice. The first rally gave them a 2-1 lead in the 58th minute on a goal from Owen O’Malley and then again in the final 20 minutes after Butler equalized in the 65th.
Corralling the Bluejay offense is going to be Marquette’s biggest issue. Creighton averages nearly 19 shots per game this season, and they’re honestly not that far off from doubling up their opponents in that department. Where the Bluejays get into trouble is their foes are much better at putting shots on goal than they are, and obviously the best way to score a goal is to aim it at the net.
While Creighton’s goal differential is great overall this season — 35 for, 19 against — that doesn’t hold up in Big East play. Across their seven league matches, that number is just +1 at 12 for and 11 against. The only reason they’re even above water in league play there is because they doubled up Butler on Wednesday night.
With all of that in mind, Creighton’s most productive offensive player is Duncan McGuire, who went into Wednesday night’s match with 20 points, the most in the Big East at the time, and then added a goal. That gives him 10 on the year, and along with two assists, he has 22 points to top the Bluejays’ stat sheet in both departments. He’s not the offensive leader, not really not with Jackson Castro (41) and Owen O’Malley (38) leading McGuire (35) in shots. Still, that’s a lot of shots to make a very solid trio of guys along the top line of attack. Castro is up to seven goals and five assists after Wednesday, while O’Malley has 18 points on seven goals and four assists.
Paul Kruse has been the guy in net for almost all of the Bluejays’ season, so we can expect to see him again on Saturday. It’s, uh, not going well for him, particularly since he was tabbed as the preseason Goalkeeper of the Year in the Big East. I remember taking a look at that at the time, and at least a teeny bit of that award was merely because the league lost a lot of top line keepers from last season. Kruse still deserved it, but it’s not holding up on him now. Before Wednesday, he was allowing 1.43 goals per 90 minutes this season, which is bad, and stopping just 68% of shots on goal, which is also not ideal. He let in two against the Bulldogs, so that GAA is going up when Creighton updates their stat sheet (they haven’t yet as I write this on Thursday morning) and stopping just three of five shots on goal by the Bulldogs isn’t helping that save percentage either.