Do you have any idea of what to make of Marquette men’s soccer at this point of the season? Yeah, it’s only been two matches, but I don’t know if there’s anything particularly informative that we can get from either of them.
The 4-2 opening loss to then-#11 Tulsa might look not too bad, given the opponent’s ranking and MU’s lack of one. However, MU handed them a goal on an own goal, then fell behind 3-0 before getting one back on a penalty kick (net result: MU’s still losing 2-0 so to speak) and then MU’s second goal came with less than a minute to play, so it’s almost like it didn’t count to a certain extent.
Then, match #2 of the year was a wiiiiiiild ride, but when you’re up 5-1 at halftime, what are you supposed to learn about your team as a result? Maybe the second half where Marquette bombed Utah Tech out of the building in shots 14-1 tells us that the Golden Eagles weren’t happy about how the Tulsa match went. It also might tell us that Utah Tech isn’t very good because MU has no reason to really push the advantage that hard.
As far as being unhappy with the Tulsa match’s result, well, here’s what head coach Louis Bennett said after that one:
“This was disappointing, we weren’t good enough,” said Marquette head coach Louis Bennett. “We didn’t take advantage of chances we had and they did, then it wore us down not being able to put the ball in the back of the net and we became sloppy. We’re not there quite yet.”
And here’s what he said after they cracked Utah Tech in the face for 90 minutes:
“We thought there were some really good performances tonight. We were unbelievably disappointed about Thursday, then we turned up on Sunday and decided that we were going to play like this.”
So yeah, that might be a burr under the Golden Eagles’ saddle right now. Can they bottle that mindset and keep attacking and maintain their focus going forward? After all, Utah Tech scored their lone goal of the match because of Marquette miscues. What does 90 straight minutes of hyper focused Marquette soccer look like? Can we get that on Friday night in the Valley?
Match #3: vs USF Bulls (0-1-1)
Date: Friday, September 2, 2022
Time: 7:05pm Central
Location: Valley Fields, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteSoccer
Marquette is 5-10-1 all time against South Florida. The two teams met regularly as a part of Conference USA and then in the Big East before The Reformation as well. The rivalry was renewed in Tampa in 2019, which led to USF’s second straight win in the series. Marquette is 0-3-1 in the last four encounters, and this is the first game in Milwaukee since 2006.
At some point this season, USF is going to score a goal. It hasn’t happened yet in their two regular season matches. They went to a scoreless draw at home against Florida Gulf Coast where they outshot the Eagles 8-1 in the second half. In Match #2 back on Sunday, the Bulls got beat 1-0 by then-#24 North Carolina on a penalty kick in the 13th minute. That wasn’t an undeserved result as USF got outshot 18-8 after 90 minutes, but that’s definitely a hard way to take a 1-0 loss.
So here they are with 180 minutes gone with 18 total shots up on the board and just four on frame. That’s not really an ideal way to go about things, but eventually, they are going to break through. Marquette’s quest in this match is not necessarily to stop that from happening, but to make sure they have more goals than the Bulls if it eventually does happen. With that said, USF was picked to finish sixth in the 10 team American Athletic Conference this season. We’ve already seen what AAC preseason favorite Tulsa can do after they beat MU 4-2, and we can safely file USF as “not anywhere near as good as that,” at least in the eyes of the other AAC coaches.
It’s going to be an interesting day at the park for both Marquette’s veteran attackers and South Florida’s netminder. The upperclassmen on MU’s roster will remember playing with Jackson Weyman from 2018 through the spring of 2021. He’s moved on to USF since, and after appearing in just one match last year, he’s played every minute for the Bulls so far this season. Statistically speaking, he’s doing pretty great having allowed only one penalty kick goal through two matches. That gives him a sparkling goals-against average of 0.50, and as a result of 10 saves made so far, he’s stopping 91% of shots on goal. I think it’s a safe bet that if that number dips below 90% following Friday’s match, then the Golden Eagles will be celebrating a win.