Well, we were right on the edge of feeling pretty good about how this Marquette men’s soccer season was going. Three straight wins, two straight shutouts with starting netminder Chandler Hallwood back in the lineup after missing the first two match of the year.... lots to be feeling good about.
And then Marquette let one thing after another fall apart on them against Wisconsin back on Monday night. A 1-0 lead created in the 41st minute was 1-1 at halftime as the Golden Eagles couldn’t protect their margin for four minutes, and then less than four minutes out of intermission, zooooop, 2-1 Badgers. It kept getting worse as UW put up two more goals to go up 4-1 with just under 30 minutes left to play. MU did claw one back late, but eh, it’s not like it made much of a difference here, y’know?
So now what?
Well, it seems like Marquette has a pair of pretty big tests ahead of them over the next four days. First it’s an unbeaten squad with a win over a team that was ranked in the top 10 at the time of the match, and then it’s a game against a squad that beat that Wisconsin squad that caved MU’s head in. Now, as we’ll get into, both of these squads have had their own share of problems in the early going this season, so it’s not like this is a disaster waiting to happen for the Golden Eagles.
Instead, it’s a chance to get the train back on the tracks. Perfectly timed, too, as the Golden Eagles will start Big East play exactly one week after this Saturday’s match. If MU can figure out how to get the ship upright again and get things going in a positive direction, they should be able to pull two wins out of these matches. If they do, then they can charge at the wheat thresher that is Big East play with nothing but positive thoughts.
If they don’t? If things go almost weirdly wrong like they did against Wisconsin? Might be a long final five weeks of the season.
Match #6: vs Yale Bulldogs (2-0-2)
This is the first ever meeting between Marquette and Yale in men’s soccer.
Yale started off their year with a pair of draws, but that description doesn’t really tell the story of either contest. In their opener, they gave up a 45th minute goal to Saint Francis.... on SFU’s first shot of the match while outshooting them 10-1 in the first half. Final shots: 21-4, and the Bulldogs equalized in the 63rd minute. Against Rutgers on the road next time out, there were a pair of penalty kicks, one for each side, in the first half hour before Yale took the lead in the 61st minute.....and then gave it away in the 87th while getting outshot 20-9 in the match.
They’ve come away from their last two contests with wins, including booting in an 88th minute goal to tack onto a penalty kick to beat then-#10 West Virginia.... even though they got outshot 13-6. Their most recent game was a 1-0 home win over noted Big East squad Villanova... but again, the Bulldogs had to push through getting dominated in shots 14-7 to get a 77th minute strike from Kai Moos to hold on to win.
The good news for the Bulldogs is that they are undefeated on the season and they beat a top 10 ranked team. The bad news is that I don’t think they should really feel great about any of their results. What does that mean for Marquette? No idea!
Elian Haddock is the Yale goalkeeper, and boy howdy has he been busy this season. He’s allowed four goals in four matches, but is coming into Saturday night on a shutout streak of nearly two full matches. He’s faced 51 shots so far this season, but they’ve been kind of sprayed everywhere as he’s just a shade under three saves per contest. The 6’4” senior will also probably have a decent sized cheering section in Valley Fields because he went to Whitefish Bay High School.
Paolo Carroll is the only Bulldog with more than one goal this season, but that’s a little misleading. He’s the guy that knocked in both of their penalty kicks, and while there’s a certain amount of skill to doing that successfully, it’s also prrrrrrrrobably a little easier than scoring two in the run of play. He is second on the team in shots behind Max Rogers, so it’s not like Marquette can just ignore Carroll as long as he’s not at the spot. Rogers also has half of Yale’s four assists on the year, so he’s chipped in one way or another on three of the four goals that aren’t Carroll’s PKs.
Match #7: vs Milwaukee Panthers (1-3-2)
Marquette is 11-31-5 all time against Milwaukee, making this the 48th time that The Milwaukee Cup has been contested. Milwaukee has held the Cup since 2017 as they defeated Marquette 2-0 to take the traveling trophy that year and then won in 2018 and 2019 as well. While the series has been tilted towards the Panthers in the long haul, things are much more even since the late 1990s. Since Marquette took control of the Cup in 1998, MU’s record in the series stands at 8-11-3, although they are winless in the last five meetings. The Milwaukee Cup had been contested in every year of MU’s program up through the 2019 campaign, and the last two seasons had a break in the series due to COVID protocols and scheduling.
Milwaukee got a first place vote in the Horizon League’s preseason poll. That’s important to note here, because things have not gone well for them since that poll came out. Losing 2-0 to Elon on a neutral site? Not good, and their 4-0 loss on three second half strikes to then-#12 Duke isn’t exactly what you like to see happen on the road. I think their third match is perhaps the most instructive for Marquette, as the Panthers beat Wisconsin 2-1. This is the same Wisconsin team that scored four times in 20 minutes against the Golden Eagles last Monday night, and the Panthers did it after recovering from a 5th minute Badgers goal.
That’s their only win, though. They followed that up with a 3-2 loss on the road against Northern Illinois after coughing up the winner in the 88th minute, and in each of the last two contests, they’ve coughed up leads to go to draws against Drake and Western Illinois. Here’s UW-Milwaukee head coach Kris Kelderman after the WIU match:
“It was a frustrating result for our group based on how we played and the number of chances that we created – and quality chances that we created and had,” head coach Kris Kelderman said. “We have to buckle down and get sharper in front of the goal.”
I point that out because that match was on Tuesday night and as I write this, it was their most recent match. They’ll open up Horizon League play against Robert Morris on Saturday afternoon before coming over from the East Side to tangle with Marquette, so we’ll see what Kelderman instills in his troops between now and then.
Gabe Anguil and Abdu Regassa are currently tied for the lead on the team in points at five each, but they’ve gotten there in different ways. Anguil leads the team in assists with three — he’s the only one with more than two helpers so far this year — and the sophomore from Wauwatosa is the one who scored their goal against Western Illinois. Regassa is tied with Logan Farrington for the team lead in goals with two. He had one against Wisconsin and another in the Drake match. Farrington and Joshua Kidder are the team leaders in shots with 15 each in six matches so far this year, so MU’s defensive corps is going to have no shortage of numbers to keep their eyes on.
Dutch sophomore Gijs Van Schouten has taken over the Milwaukee net from Nick Chiappa in the last two contests. He’s stopping over 81% of shots on goal, which is a drastic improvement over Chiappa’s 38% in UWM’s first four contests. I would presume that’s a coaching change as opposed to an injury replacement, so it seems like a safe bet that Van Schouten is the likely starting netminder for the Panthers against MU.