Marquette men’s soccer is winless in their last three matches with just two goals scored.
It’s definitely not the outcome to the last 270 minutes that anyone wanted to see after hammering Milwaukee for five goals on September 20th, but it’s where we stand. It’s not all bad news, as the 0-0 draw with then-#19 Xavier was a good result for Marquette, particularly on the road. However, things have not gone well in the last two contests, falling 2-1 at Saint Louis in the non-conference finale and 3-1 to Butler last time out.
This leaves the Golden Eagles at just one point in the Big East standings through two matches. That has them in a tie for ninth in the 11 team table, but it’s a three-way tie so it’s actually a tie for last. MU remains in an advantageous position of being a match behind everyone else except for DePaul who is also at 0-1-1 right now. However, “having an extra match to play” is only useful to Marquette if they start putting points up on the board. It’s still early with eight matches left to go and thus a maximum of 24 total points left to be earned. Lots of things can happen between now and the season finale on November 2nd, but it’s officially time for the Golden Eagles to start making their own luck, too.
After the two matches that we’re previewing here, Marquette will have four home matches and just two road matches remaining on the schedule. Both of the opponents that they’ll be visiting have shown to not be unbeatable this season, so that’s a good chance for Marquette to push things in their direction. However, it also means that these teams know that their margins for error aren’t exactly big, either. They’ll both be motivated to get three points, particularly Wednesday afternoon’s opposition as they took a loss in their most recent game.
It’s much too early to call anything must win, not with first place in the table just six points ahead of Marquette. But it would definitely be to MU’s advantage to come home on Saturday night with a goose egg in the loss column.
Big East Match #3: at Villanova Wildcats (4-3-2, 1-1-1 Big East)
Marquette is 3-5-1 all time against Villanova. The Golden Eagles have had a slight advantage lately, winning in 2018 and 2019 before falling a year ago in Milwaukee. Each of the last three encounters have been decided by shutout in one direction or the other.
Villanova had a four match unbeaten streak wiped away the last time they took the field. They had shutout NJIT, St. John’s, and Penn State in that stretch and went to a 1-1 draw with Providence, but Creighton proved to be too much in Omaha. Both teams scored before halftime, but the Bluejays added one in the 56th minute and a penalty kick in the 82nd minute to take the win and three points in the Big East standings. Side note to that loss for the Wildcats: The PK was generated by the second yellow card of the match on Jorge Garcia, and his dismissal from that game will result in his suspension against Marquette. The junior midfielder has played in all nine VU matches this season with four starts, and he scored a goal against Northwestern earlier this year. The second yellow was after the handball call that led to the penalty kick, so it was presumably for unsportsmanlike conduct as a result of the call.
In any case, the point of the story is that up until last time out, Villanova was on their hottest run of the season. Three of their four wins on the season and one of their two draws in that stretch as well. That’s not too bad of a turn around from their 1-2-1 start, which included a 1-0 loss to the same Yale team that beat Marquette in Milwaukee. Still, with three of 10 matches played, Villanova sits in a tie for fifth place in the league table with that same Creighton team that beat them with four points, and they’ll obviously be interested in getting back on a winning track.
Even after allowing three goals to the Bluejays, Villanova is still +8 in goal differential this season, outscoring their opponents 15-7. Part of that is Kent Dickey’s goalkeeping. The 6’4” Virginia native had played in just five matches in the previous four campaigns with the Wildcats, but he’s played every minute so far this season. His goals-against average is a minuscule 0.78 and he’s stopping over 81% of shots on goal. Dickey is making over three saves a game, and he’s had to do a quality job back there since the Wildcats are ever so slightly — 13.4 to 12.9 — getting outshot by their opponents even with that goal differential heavily in their favor.
Lyam MacKinnon leads the offense with four goals and nine points. This shouldn’t be a surprise after he was something of an under-recognized scoring star in the Big East last season. He has two of Villanova’s six goals in Big East action through three matches including their lone marker against Creighton, and he leads the team in shots, so he’s the clear #1 threat on the scouting report. Viktor Benediktsson has three goals this season, while Balthi Saunders is #2 in points with eight thanks to a team high four assists.
Big East Match #4: at Providence Friars (3-2-4, 1-0-2 Big East)
Marquette is 4-10-3 all time against Providence. The Golden Eagles are on a eight match winless streak against the Friars, going 0-5-3 in that time, including a 2-2 draw last season against a ranked PC team in Milwaukee. The last time Marquette picked up a win in the series was the 2013 Big East tournament title game.
As I write this, Providence is on a four match unbeaten streak, including their first three matches of Big East play. They’ve started off their run in the league with draws against Villanova and Seton Hall and picked up a road win over DePaul back on Saturday in their most recent match. All of that might change on Wednesday night, as they visit UConn before coming back home to host MU on Saturday. Still, a win and two draws is enough to position the Friars in a three-way tie for second place in the Big East table right now and it’s always better to be there 30% of the way through the season than be three points outside the top six and the conference tournament field after 20% of your matches like Marquette is at the moment.
Three guys have accounted for half of Providence’s 12 goals this season. Gevork Diarbian, Thomas Tulgar, and Ramzi Qawasmy are all at two goals each. It’s worth noting that Tulgar has only played in eight of PC’s nine matches and the one he missed was last Saturday’s trip to DePaul. We’ll have to see if he’s still unavailable by Saturday. The fact that Tulgar and Qawasmy have two goals does not appear to be part of PC’s offensive design. The two men have combined for just eight shots this season while Luis Garcia has one goal and four assists on a team high 27 shots. Diarbian is second in shots with 19, and Brendan McScorley has a goal on 11 shots in eight appearances. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, and I’m sure that head coach Craig Stewart is happy to have goals no matter where they come from.
Lukas Burns has been holding it down in the back end for the Friars. The 6’4” junior has played every minute in net so far this season after starting every match a year ago. So far, his numbers seem to be improved, as his goals-against average has dropped from just over one per 90 minutes to 0.89 and he’s gone from stopping just under 73% of shots on goal to 75 this year. Of course, PC has seven matches of Big East play left to go, nearly half their season, so we’ll see how that holds up. One big thing that’s helping is Providence is almost doubling their opponents up in shots at 11.0 to 6.4 per game. It’s easy to defend your net when you only have to really worry about seven shots a night, so it will be up to Marquette to make the Providence defense uncomfortable with shot attempts.