There is one and only one goal for Marquette women’s soccer: Score goals. Plural, non-singular goals. And not just goals, but standard issue soccer “I passed it over to you and you made a play and kicked it or heck, even intentionally headed it into the net.”
It has been 270 minutes of soccer so far this season. Marquette has scored two goals, both coming against Central Michigan in their lone win amongst their 1-2-0 record. One goal is officially on the board as an own goal, although it was briefly credited to Molly Keiper for corner kicking it to where it deflected off a CMU defender. The other goal is a penalty kick by Isabella Cook.
That’s it for goals for Marquette this year. Zero run of play goals in 270 minutes. Zero run of play goals on 20 total shots in three matches, although that’s slightly misleading since then-#16 Notre Dame held MU to just one shot. Still, zero regular-ass soccer goals in 19 shots in two matches is still not any good. Zero run of play goals on 10 shots on goal. Officially, Cook’s PK goes as a shot and a shot on goal, so those numbers are really 18 and 9 if you want to think about it that way.
This is all very bad for long term success.
Now, it’s a good sign for Marquette’s long term success that they’re dead even in shots against their last two (and/or non-Notre Dame opponents, if you prefer) at 19 apiece. The Golden Eagles have been underwater overall in shots in each of head coach Frank Pelaez’s first two seasons in charge at Marquette, so sitting at 50/50 in the two competitive matches is fantastic news. Long term, that’s going to benefit the defense, it’s going to benefit Mikki Easter in net, and in theory, hopefully, it’s going to benefit the offense. If they keep holding the line there and splitting the shots, then eventually goals are going to go in the net.
This weekend has two matches for Marquette against what should be beatable opponents if the Golden Eagles are destined to be in the six team Big East tournament. That’s going to require goals in the net, and preferably multiple goals in both matches. I’ll take wins, no matter how they get there, but right now? There’s an awful lot of foreboding nervous energy surrounding how things are going for the Golden Eagles, and they need to shake that off by putting the ball in the net a whole bunch.
Match #4: vs Illinois-Chicago Flames (0-2-1)
Marquette is 1-0 all time against Illinois-Chicago. This remains weird, even with the Flames only having a team since 2014. The first ever meeting was last season in Milwaukee, and Rachel Johnson was credited with the game winning (and only) goal in that one.
There’s no other way around this: UIC hasn’t scored a goal yet this season. 3-0 loss at Louisville, 1-0 loss at home to DePaul, and a 0-0 draw on Sunday afternoon at home against Eastern Illinois. Taking the EIU draw into account, things are much worse than they look. UIC outshot the Panthers 18-4 in that game, and still came up empty on goals..... and that means the Flames were getting outshot 23-15 in their first two games combined. That’s not a disaster, but it definitely tells a different story than their current mark of 33 for and 27 against.
While there is an indication that maaaybe Marquette can get their act together against the Flames, it’s not all sunshine and lollipops. UIC did score four goals in a 4-1 exhibition victory over Central Michigan before the season officially got underway. This would be, of course, the same Central Michigan that Marquette had to fluke a win together against earlier this year. It’s exhibition play, so who knows what either team was really trying to do..... but that’s not an ideal sign for Marquette.
Without a goal to speak of, we have to take a peek at UIC’s conference projections to get a feel for what they are this fall. This is their first ever season in the Missouri Valley Conference, and the Flames were picked to finish 10th in the 11 team league. That’s with the MVC being a little scattershot this year as four teams got at least one first place vote. The only team behind UIC is Southern Illinois, which of course makes me very worried about what’s going on with the Salukis.
I presume we’re going to see Lauren Keiser start in net for the Flames on Thursday night. She’s started each of the past two matches after Sara Sanabria started the opener against Louisville but only went 45 minutes. Keiser went the full 90 minutes against EIU on Sunday after getting relieved at halftime against DePaul, so the trend is towards letting the 6’0” redshirt sophomore from Florida go the distance. She has yet to allow a goal this season, as DePaul’s marker came against Sanabria and has made eight saves in her 180 minutes of action.
Match #5: vs Green Bay Phoenix (2-1-0)
Marquette is 13-1-0 all time against Green Bay. The two sides have not played since 2009 and the Golden Eagles are riding a 13 match winning streak after dropping the first ever meeting in the series. The Phoenix have not scored a goal against Marquette since 2004.
Everything was going right for Green Bay this season in their first 180 minutes of soccer. Five goals scored, no goals allowed, perfect 2-0 record. Can’t ask for much more from home dates against Chicago State and Western Illinois. Then their schedule dealt them a road date against #24 Wisconsin on Sunday evening and WELP, 3-0 loss. It was even worse than it sounds, as the Badgers outshot them 24-1 at McClimon Sports Complex. Even worse, their lone shot came in the 16th minute while the score was still 0-0. Woooof.
They had outshot their opponents 35-16 in the first two matches, so that’s probably more in sync with what the Phoenix actually are this season. Zoey Pagels is the only player to find the net twice this year, getting one each in the two matches that GB managed to get on the board. She’s tied for the team lead in points with McKayla Kertscher, who has a goal and two assists on the year. That’s pretty impressive at this point of the season, as that means Kertscher has assisted on half of GB’s goals that she hasn’t scored herself. That’s not going to last, but that’s still pretty great for three games in.
Annie Mason has played every minute in net so far this season. Thanks to those two shutouts, her goals against average sits at 1.00 even right now. While Wisconsin was letting it fly big time, she still only had to make seven saves to keep it at 3-0, and I say “only” because she made seven in the opener and six against DePaul.