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Marquette Women’s Soccer Preview: at St. Thomas & at Minnesota

The Golden Eagles head to the North Star State for a pair of matches.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Minnesota vs Louisville Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s the question: Did Sunday’s 5-0 win over Green Bay tell us a lot about Marquette women’s soccer or did it tell us a lot about Green Bay’s team?

Through MU’s first four matches, the Golden Eagles had scored just one run of play goal all season, and that was Josie Bieda’s equalizer in their 1-1 draw against Illinois-Chicago. In the fourth match of the year. Sunday against Green Bay? Marquette had three run of play goals by halftime, heck, they had them by the 23 minute mark of the match, and then they tacked a fourth one on in the 73rd minute.

If that’s a shift in tactics by Marquette, if that’s a solution found by the coaching staff, if that’s the players figuring out how to play with each other a little bit better as the season goes along, then that’s great! Big roadblock out of the way, onwards and upwards, etc. you get the idea.

If that’s “actually, Green Bay isn’t particularly great and Marquette ran straight through them,” that’s not great. Let’s be clear about it: Outshooting them 22-3 and winning 5-0 isn’t a bad thing. Sometimes what you need the most is an overwhelming victory to shake all the bugs out of the system. But if it was more taking advantage of a team not prepared for what was about to happen to them, then Marquette has to be careful about what lessons they take away from it.

This weekend will give MU a chance to figure out what they have. These appear to be two winnable games for them, and the fact that the two facilities are just five miles apart gives the Golden Eagles a chance to relax to a certain extent between Thursday evening and Sunday afternoon. They can get to the Twin Cities and focus on playing the best 180 minutes of soccer they can. It might be a big weekend for Marquette as well, since they have just one non-conference contest remaining after Sunday afternoon. Before you know it, the Golden Eagles will be kicking off against DePaul on September 22nd, and then the rubber really hits the road.

Match #6: at St. Thomas Tommies (3-1-1)

Date: Thursday, September 8, 2022
Time: 4pm Central
Location: South Field, St. Paul, Minnesota
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWSOC

Marquette is 1-0-0 all time against St. Thomas. The first ever meeting was last season as the Tommies made their jump up to Division 1, and the Golden Eagles won 3-0.

As mentioned, last year was UST’s first ever season in Division 1 and.... it did not go so great. They went 4-12-1 overall and 2-7-0 in Summit League action. Considering that, 3-1-1 to start the year is pretty great. Not particularly sure what wins over Drake, Chicago State, and Northern Iowa mean towards being picked to finish eighth in the Summit League this year, but hey: They went 1-1-1 against those three teams last season, so this is, by default, an improvement. On top of that, they were leading Green Bay 2-0 when that game was called on account of weather, and they lost 2-0 to the Phoenix a year ago.

This game may be a strong defensive test for the Golden Eagles. St. Thomas is outshooting opponents nearly by coming up on six shots a game, 12.8 to 7.2 on average. For comparison’s sake, Marquette is barely above water at 50-49 on the season, although that does include a mollywhopping by Notre Dame in the opener. UST has turned that shot advantage into a 6-1 goals advantage on the scoreboard, so while they’re controlling matches, they’re barely north of a goal per game.

Two of those six goals this season have come from Camryn Rintoul, who has started in four of their five contests and leads the team in shots with 10 as well. This is all very fascinating stuff, as the sophomore from Apple Valley is listed as a defender/midfielder on the Tommies’ roster. Is that going to last? Maybe not, as she hasn’t scored in the last three matches and only tallied one shot in their most recent contest.

Annie Bantner has played all but 45 minutes this season, taking the second half off in St. Thomas’ 1-0 win against Chicago State. As you would expect with just one goal allowed this season, her stats are stellar. She’s allowing 0.22 goals per 90 minutes and stopping nearly 92% of shots on frame. Marquette’s #1 goal for the match has to be ruining Bantner’s sparkling record to start the year.

Match #7: at Minnesota Golden Gophers (2-3-1)

Date: Sunday, September 11, 2022
Time: 1pm Central
Location: Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium, St. Paul, Minnesota
Streaming: B1G+, which means paying $10 for a month’s subscription of Minnesota or $15 for the whole league.
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWSOC

Marquette is 2-4-1 all time against Minnesota. The series started back in 1993 and it took until 2009 before the Golden Eagles picked up a win. The most recent meeting was a 1-0 MU victory in Minnesota back in 2019.

Minnesota is on a hot streak at the moment, picking up a 4-0 win over Drake and a 3-1 road victory against North Dakota in their last two contests. Whether they’ll still be on that hot streak by the time Marquette gets to Robbie Stadium on Sunday is up for debate, as they’ll host Nebraska-Omaha on Thursday evening for their 7th match of the season.

As you can guess, that recent hot streak means they started out the year poorly. After a 1-1 draw on the road against Baylor, they dropped their next three matches. Losing 2-1 at then-#7 TCU isn’t that big of a deal, but it is a bummer since the Gophers were leading 1-0 when the clock clicked over to 84:00. That just makes their follow up loss — 1-0 at home to Cal Poly — even worse, and then they dropped a 1-0 decision on the road against Mississippi State as well. Both of those matches featured second half goals by the other team, so it seems that maaaaaybe Marquette can wear Minnesota down.

Senior forward Izzy Brown is in her second season with the Gophers after transferring in from North Carolina after her first two seasons of competition. She led Minnesota in goals last season with six, and she’s already halfway to that mark this season. Brown is the only Minnesota player to score more than once so far in 2022, but she’s not leading the team in shots. McKenna Buisman has 12 attempts so far, while Khyah Harper has 11 against eight for Brown. We’ll have to see what that means in general for the Gophers’ attack, and it is important to note that they’re outshooting teams 64-40 on the season so far.

Barring a total surprise, Megan Plaschko will be in net for the Gophers on Sunday. The senior from Eagan has played every minute so far this season, even with two sophomores backing her up. With five goals allowed in five matches, she’s averaging a precise 1.00 goals per 90 minutes this year.... but she’s only stopping 67% of shots on frame. If MU can tip the field towards the Gophers’ defense, that bodes well for the chances to pick up a win.

One final note on this match: We have to point out that Erin Chastain is running the show for Minnesota. You might remember her as the head coach at DePaul for 14 seasons. She won two Big East regular season titles and one tournament title, qualified for a pair of NCAA tournaments, and guided the Blue Demons to the first national ranking in program history. Why is she in the Land of 10,000 Lakes? Because sometimes you hire one of the 10 best scorers in program history to coach your team. Can’t knock the decision making by Minnesota or Chastain here, but it’s safe to say that she’s familiar with how MU head coach Frank Pelaez might want things to go since Pelaez was an assistant at Marquette for years and years during her time in Chicago.