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Marquette Women’s Soccer Preview: vs Milwaukee

The Golden Eagles renew their series with their crosstown rival.

UWM’s Mascot

It’s a new week for Marquette women’s soccer!

The Golden Eagles started off the 2022 season last week with a 1-1-0 road trip ever so slightly to the east. MU opened the year against #16 Notre Dame, and with two quick goals for the Irish and just one shot in 90 minutes for Marquette, that’s a real “maybe we should just burn the tape” situation. Sunday’s match against Central Michigan was a little bit better as Marquette came away with the 2-1 win, but it’s hard to say it was a resounding victory for MU.

They tallied just eight shots in the match, and generally speaking, going longer than 10 minutes between shots on average isn’t good. On top of that, both of Marquette’s goals could be qualified as flukes to a certain extent. Molly Keiper’s goal — which is now on the team stats page as an own goal and no longer credited to Keiper — was definitely a fluke as it deflected off a CMU defender on her corner kick and went in the net. Isabella Cook’s game winner was only kinda flukey. Her actual penalty kick attempt was good, but the fact that she got it was because the CMU defender made an awful choice to tackle Elizabeth Bueckers from behind in the box.

So that brings us to Thursday night’s home opener, and a new chance to iron out exactly what’s going on. Marquette looked much better against CMU, but that’s by default a thing that happens when you’re not playing a top 20 opponent. Can they repeat that against another unranked team, and in fact against a team that got kind of swallowed under by an opponent just outside the rankings in their opener? Can Marquette put a ball in the net in what we could qualify as a “normal” manner for the first time this season? Can the Golden Eagles start to put together a sustained push on the offensive third and look like a team with forward momentum in their third match of the year?

[glances at the forecast] And how much of Thursday’s rainy weather is going to throw any semblance of real information gathering about the team’s progress completely out the window? And how much of the fact that Thursday’s match will start 30 minutes after the conclusion of the men’s team match against #11 Tulsa also in the rain will impact how the women’s match goes? That turf in the Valley might be rouuuuuuuugh by the time we get to 7:30pm tonight.

BY THE WAY: Marquette’s home matches and Big East matches are carried on FloSports. This means a pay subscription if you want to watch the streaming broadcasts. DO NOT PAY FULL PRICE FOR FLOSPORTS. Click here to get a Big East sponsored discount on your subscription.

Match #3: vs Milwaukee Panthers (0-1-0)

Date: Thursday, August 25, 2022
Time: 7:30pm-ish Central
Location: Valley Fields, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Streaming: FloFC
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWSOC

Marquette and Milwaukee are deadlocked in a 10-10-8 record in the all time series. This is the first meeting since the 2019 season, and the two sides had played each other in every single season of MU’s program until COVID protocols threw everything into a tizzy.

The Panthers opened up their season last Thursday night with a road trip against Wake Forest. Milwaukee was behind the eight ball pretty much immediately after giving up a goal just over four minutes into the match. They ended up getting outshot 21-8, including 11-3 in the first half and doubled up 10-5 in the second. I didn’t watch the match, but that certainly sounds like Wake Forest was deserving of being the unofficial #26 team in the country in the preseason United Soccer Coaches poll, so it’s hard to make any serious statements about what that match means for UWM.

To that end, Milwaukee and Oakland split the first place votes in the Horizon League preseason poll straight down the middle, five each. Well, almost straight down the middle, as someone gave 9th place Youngstown State a first place vote. What?? Anyway, even with that five and five split, Oakland came out a little bit ahead of Milwaukee in total points, 115-108. The Panthers aren’t officially co-favorites, but we have to say it’s close.

That’s somewhat of a surprising result in the poll, to be honest. Here’s some actual information from the UWM press release on the HL’s poll:

Along with a new coach, the roster will also have a new look after the Panthers lost 12 players to graduation or transfer and will now be able to count on just two returning starters on the field following a stellar 19-2 campaign that set school records for overall wins (19) and winning percentage (.905), as well as longest-ever win streak (14). After a season in which the Panthers set the school record for points (206) and assists (80), and finished second in all-time goals for a season (63), just 28.7 percent of those points are set to return to the field starting tomorrow.

And they’re still expected to better than most of their conference rivals. I don’t know who that says more about.

The new coach is Kevin Boyd, taking over from Troy Fabiano after he left to take the same job at Kentucky. Fabiano was in charge on the East Side for seven seasons, rolling up a record of 101-16-13, which is pretty good. Boyd comes to Milwaukee after a two year stint as associate head coach at Washington State, but he has been a head coach before that. He was in charge at Cal for a decade, and then another 10 years at Arizona State after that. Boyd is 214-148-48 as a head coach at the Division 1 level with 13 NCAA tournament appearances. Seems good!

Sophomore forward Kat Van Booven is Milwaukee’s top returning scorer after putting up 18 points on seven goals and four assists last season. That sounds pretty good, but she was third on the team in points a year ago. Can she replicate that kind of production as a top option? Is losing Gaby Schwartz’s — brace yourself — NINETEEN assists going to be a deficit that the Panthers struggle to figure out? How will they operate without a pair of double digit goal scorers like Mackenzie Schill and Lesley Kiesling? How much of an impact is changing the head coach going to have on all of this? For what it’s worth, Van Booven played just 42 minutes against Wake Forest while starting and didn’t attempt a shot. That might be more about Wake Forest though, as Breanna Culver was the only UWM player to attempt more than one shot and she only had two.

Milwaukee started the season with zero Division 1 game experience in their goalkeeper corps. They have two women who were on the UWM roster a year ago but did not play, but Boyd went with Division 3 transfer Parker Donahugh for the opener against Wake. Two goals allowed and seven saves made on 21 shots faced isn’t too bad, especially since the field was lopsided against her for most of the game. I’d wager she’s the favorite to end up in the net to start on Thursday night, but we’ll have to wait and see what happens.