I don’t think it’s right to say that the final 30 minutes of Marquette’s game against #21 UConn last weekend is the best that I’ve ever seen Meredith Black’s teams play. They have beaten a ranked team in the past, and by default, that has to be a better performance.
But, given the circumstances of how the full 60 minutes went, I think we can say the second half against the Huskies might be the boldest that Marquette has ever played. They were down 12-2 at halftime after conceding consecutive 6-1 quarters and were down 11-1 out of the gate.
And yet, it was like none of that mattered to the Golden Eagles coming out of the locker room, or perhaps the exact opposite: It mattered very much to them that they were getting blown off the field in Storrs and they decided to do something about it. It was like two different teams were going at it for the final 30 minutes. MU cut the margin to just five with 4:37 to go in the third quarter, down to three with 11:49 to play in the game, and even as far as just two goals, 17-15, with just under 90 seconds left.
Had Marquette won the ensuing draw control, or heck, if it was a 70 minute game instead of 60, who knows what would have happened.... but it certainly looked like the Golden Eagles were on the verge of getting the win against the ranked Huskies.
But they didn’t and it wasn’t and they didn’t, so now they’re 0-1 in the Big East and looking to avoid going 0-2 and probably making it impossible to reach the conference tournament. I don’t know if the Golden Eagles can recapture how they went about their business in the second half against UConn, I don’t know if that’s a “we were taking advantage of things they were giving us” situation or they had to be in that big of a hole or what have you.
But if they can.... if Marquette can match that intensity to attack the day on Saturday, and keep that going the rest of the season.... I think good things are in MU’s future. But it might take playing like that for the rest of the season to do it, too.
Big East Game #2: vs Villanova Wildcats (4-8, 0-1 Big East)
Date: Saturday, April 9, 2022
Time: Noon Central
Location: Andy Glockner Memorial Bubble, Valley Fields, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Streaming: Marquette Athletics on YouTube
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWLax
Marquette is 4-5 all time against Villanova. The Wildcats took the first three meetings against the Golden Eagles, which was followed by three straight Marquette wins. Nova won the most recent meeting in Wisconsin, 15-13, in 2019, while the two teams split the weekend series last season in Pennsylvania. Marquette pulled off the 8-7 victory in the most recent encounter.
Villanova finds themselves having about as many problems as Marquette is having this season. With that said, things started out really poorly for the Wildcats, going just 1-5 in their first six games. Since then, they’ve been alternating wins and losses, and two of the losses were to ranked teams: 19-7 while visiting #4 Maryland and 8-7 in double overtime at home against #10 Michigan. They also have losses to then-#22 Temple and then-#14 Rutgers as part of that 1-5 start, so they’re 4-4 against unranked teams. That’s not great, but it’s a lot better looking than 4-8, that’s for sure.
They come into Saturday fresh off a 13-11 home loss to Georgetown in their Big East opener. That’s probably going to sting in a minute, or perhaps it already does. Villanova was up 3-1 with two minutes left in the first.... but tied at three heading to the second quarter. They were up 7-3 less than five minutes into the second quarter..... but only up 8-6 at halftime. After that? They needed two power play goals in the final 40 seconds of the third quarter — the first one coming with Georgetown down two women — to tie the thing up at 10 goals a side with 15 minutes left to play. Sydney Pappas answered a GU goal with 9:46 to go to knot it at 11, but the Wildcats would not score again while giving up two in less than 90 seconds to Kylie Hazen to send the Hoyas back to D.C. with a win.
While she had four goals and an assist against Georgetown, Sydney Pappas (20G, 3A) is not Villanova’s leading scorer this season. She is tied for second behind Caroline Curnal, who has a team high 28 goals plus five assists to have 33 points in her 11 games played. The one she missed was the La Salle game back on March 9th, and Curnal has tallied 15 goals and three assists since then, so no worries for VU as to what she can give them against Marquette.
The woman tied with Pappas is Alexa Tsahalis, a senior midfielder from New Jersey. She’s gotten to the 23 points to match Pappas by way of 16 goals and seven assists, which makes her part of the group of five women averaging at least a goal per game. One of the people not in that group? Cara Moreau, who is leading Villanova with 12 assists on the season, and that is an assist per game for her. It’s also more than a quarter of the Wildcats’ assists this season all by herself.
Alexa Moro is in net for Villanova this season, as she has been for
time eternal since the 2019 season. She’s played all but a quarter this season with her backups finishing out VU’s 14-3 win over La Salle. While things might not be great in the win/loss columns, things are okay in Moro’s stats. The 5’3” Connecticut native is only allowing 11.87 goals per 60 minutes — fourth amongst regulars in the league — and she doesn’t even have the benefit of the final 15 minutes against the Explorers to help keep that down. She’s stopping just short of 44% of shots on goal — second amongst regular keepers in the Big East — while facing nearly 27 shots a game on average and stopping just over nine of them.