Marquette Golden Eagles women’s soccer went up to Minnesota with a 2-2-1 record and came back with a 3-3-1 record, so the gut instinct at seeing that is to think that the Golden Eagles are still pretty much the team that we thought they were back last Thursday morning.
And yet, I can’t help shake the feeling that the weekend was something of a step back for Marquette. I think most of that resides in the fact that MU got outshot 14-5 by a not going anywhere particularly important Minnesota team on Sunday on their way to a 3-0 loss. Seeing MU rally from a (somewhat lucky) St. Thomas goal early in the second half to get a 2-1 win is probably doing some heavy lifting there as well, since that drubbing from the Gophers came in the immediate wake of that comeback.
MU came out after that and landed flat, getting outshot 9-1 in the opening 45 minutes. That’s not good, especially for a team that needed to fight up hill against a bad trend of getting outshot for a season in Frank Pelaez’s first two campaigns in charge of the Golden Eagles. After the ... is disaster too strong? outing against Minnesota, Marquette finds themselves at 70 shots against and 65 shots for on the season. That’s 48% of the shots on the year, and that’s not a number that’s particularly inspiring.
This is all of critical importance for a couple of reasons. First, Thursday night’s opponent is going through their own major struggles this season, so it’s crucially important that Marquette take care of business there to turn their own trends around. Second, Thursday night is the final non-conference match of the season. After that, it’s a 10 match Big East slate where every contest has points towards that top six finish and a spot in the conference tournament on the line. Right now, no one in the league is particularly standing out, although Creighton is unbeaten at 4-0-4. Does that mean the door to the Big East tournament is open for Marquette? Maybe, but they have to get their entire deal figured out.
A possible hold up for Marquette towards figuring things out? They have just five women who have started all seven matches this season and just three more who have started six times. I don’t think it’s a crazy thing to think that continuity is the most important part about success in soccer given the somewhat random physics attached to how the ball moves sometimes. Things that definitely don’t help? Katrina Wetherell, generally accepted to be MU’s best returning player from last season, hasn’t played in any of the last four matches.
Match #8: vs Western Michigan Broncos (0-3-3)
Marquette is 2-1-0 all time against Western Michigan. The two teams met in back-to-back years in 2009 and 2010 for non-conference action with the Golden Eagles taking one game in both teams’ facilities. The other contest? A 1-0 WMU victory at Valley Fields in the first round of the 2013 NCAA tournament when the Golden Eagles were 18-3-0 coming in and the #2 seed in their region. Yeah, it sucked. ASIDE: What is it about Western Michigan and handing Marquette incredibly irritating tournament losses?
I can’t imagine how frustrated WMU head coach Lewis Robinson is at this point of his season. Here’s what the Broncos have done: Lost every single game that they didn’t score in and tied every game that they did score in. It’s worse than that, as Western Michigan has been leading in every single contest that went to a draw.
- 20th minute goal vs Detroit, equalizer in the 80th.
- Rallied to take a 2-1 lead in the 30th minute vs Cincinnati, equalizer in the 76th.
- 86th minute goal vs Oakland, equalizer 80 seconds later.
That suuuuuucks, especially that last one which happened just this past Sunday in Kalamazoo.
Western Michigan is very much underwater in goals and shots this season, although losing 5-0 to Butler doesn’t help you very much. They’re getting outscored 14-4 and getting outshot 116-43. If you’d like the shots in per game numbers, that’s 19.3 to 7.2. If that’s not a recipe for Marquette to get their offensive game flowing in a positive direction, I don’t know what is.
In terms of who to stop on the WMU roster, it is paramount that the Golden Eagles staple a defender to Reagan Wisser, a 5’7” forward from Richland, Michigan. She has three of WMU’s four goals on the year, which means that she has scored all of their goals in the past two games. She has done this on five shots, and yes, that does not sound like much, but remember: Five shots is literally 12% of all of their shots on the season. Madi Canada has eight shots on the year, so MU probably shouldn’t completely ignore her, and the same goes for Heidi Thomasma and her six strikes on the year. Five of Canada’s shots have been on frame this year, it’s just that none of them have gone in the net.
I presume that we’re going to see Hannah Sargent in net for Western Michigan on Thursday night. She has started and played every minute of the Broncos’ last five matches after Lauren Boafo took all 90 minutes of the 5-0 loss to Butler. As you’d expect, especially with the 3-0 loss to Arkansas getting shortened by lightning, her goals-against average is not good at 1.88 per 90 minutes. Sargent is stopping 76% of shots on goal, so that’s pretty good, considering that she’s making nearly six saves per game to get there.