Coming out of Thursday’s 1-0 loss on a late goal to Georgetown, it’s time to reset the table for Marquette women’s soccer relative to the Big East standings. Remember: Only the top six teams in the standings qualify for the conference tournament.
With two matches left to be played, Marquette has 10 points in the table with a record of 3-4-1. They are currently tied with UConn for sixth place in the league, which is three points behind fifth place Butler and two points ahead of eighth place Providence. Mathematically speaking, Marquette can not finish better than third place in the conference. Their maximum best point total is now 16, and both Georgetown (25) and Xavier (18) have surpassed that number. On the other end of the spectrum, MU is already guaranteed to finish no worse than a tie for ninth place as Seton Hall can’t get any higher up in the table than seven points and DePaul can only, at best, tie Marquette’s 10 points.
This is without taking any other results in the league on Sunday into account, by the way. It is absolutely possible that Marquette has already had particular pathways to seeds in the conference tournament cut off to them by way of possible tiebreakers or how the rest of the schedule shakes out for everyone else. I’m not going to worry about any of that. This is the long and short of it: Marquette kind of can’t lose again. I say kind of, because even the Big East office says they’ll still be alive for a tournament berth with a loss.... but also maybe relying on one stretch of 90 minutes against the team that’s currently in second place in the league to go your way is a bad plan to clinch a berth.
This is Year #3 under Frank Pelaez’s direction of the program. In the first two campaigns, the Golden Eagles fell justshort of the Big East tournament. I think it would be very neat if they take a step forward here, especially given the circumstances of the roster management needed from Pelaez and his staff. FUN FACT: There are only nine women who have played in all 16 matches this season, and only three who have started all 16. That’s Isabella Cook, Mia Haertle, and Hailey Block, for the record. To put it another way: Marquette returned all of their top four point scorers from last season, which is everyone who tallied more than five points.... and three of those four have combined to miss 22 matches this season. Shouts to Elsi Twombly, who is one of the nine to play in all 16.
It’s been a whole thing this year! And even through that, Pelaez has them on the edge of getting into the conference tournament anyway! They just have to figure out a way to push it across the finish line in their final two matches.
Big East Match #9: at St. John’s Red Storm (7-4-5, 4-2-2 Big East)
Marquette is 16-1-1 all time against St. John’s. The draw was in 2014 and the loss was in 2015. Both of those matches were in Queens, which means that the Golden Eagles are 6-1-1 on the road in this series. MU has won six straight matches against the Red Storm at this point, three of which came by way of the now defunct overtime rules, and two of those were the last two meetings including a 4-3 battle in Milwaukee last fall.
The Johnnies come into this match on a three match undefeated streak. They got there with road wins over Providence and Butler, then went to a scoreless draw with Xavier. Those seven points have put them in prime position to snag a conference tournament berth, as they currently sit in a tie with Creighton in third place with 14 points. They haven’t clinched a spot yet, so they’ll clearly be motivated to keep their unbeaten streak going.
I’m just going to warn you right now: If you didn’t have fun watching the Georgetown match where Marquette held the Hoyas to just 13 shots in 90 minutes while generating just two on their own, this one is going to be less fun. St. John’s averages fewer than 10 shots per game this season while allowing just a shade over 8.2 a night. There’s less than a shot’s difference between what Marquette allows and generates themselves, and that’s 10.7 for and 9.8 against. This is not going to be up and down the pitch counter attacking all over the place soccer.
The Red Storm have scored 18 goals this season, but they’ve been distributed around the team pretty well. There’s a three-way tie for the team lead in goals at three, with Jessica Garziano, Nicole Gordon, and Ava Collins all getting there. Garziano is the biggest offensive threat, though. Not only does she have a team high five assists on the season, beating out Melina Couzis’s four in that column, which gives her the team lead in points, but Garziano also leads the team in shots. It’s a big lead, as she’s fired off 33 of the team’s 158 shots on the season, and no one else has more than 18.
Senior and Wisconsin native Gina Muzi has played all but parts of two games in net this season for the Red Storm. You can’t really argue with the decision making here, because when you’re stopping nearly 78% of shots on goal and the defense in front of you is helping you to allow just 0.72 goals per 90 minutes, that’s the path you take. Depending on how you feel about Georgetown’s goalkeeping situation, there’s an argument for Muzi as Goalkeeper of the Year this season, but the Johnnies are probably going to have to close out the season strong for that to happen.