This feels like a pivotal four day stretch for Marquette men’s soccer.
They’re only three matches into the season, and we can categorize all three contests in this way:
- Quality performance with self-inflicted problems in a loss against a top ranked team
- Thrashing of an over-matched squad
- Relatively even contest with two fouls that pushed the match in one direction
It’s hard to say that we really know anything about Marquette as a team so far this year with those three results. That brings us to these two contests on Friday and Monday against two power conference opponents that are flawed or troubled in one way or another so far this season.
Let’s be blunt about it: A team that is capable of finishing top six in the Big East and qualifying for the conference tournament wins both of these matches. After these two wrap up, MU has just two more matches left to go before Big East play starts and just three more non-conference dates on the calendar at all. It is time for the Golden Eagles to establish who they are and what they are as an outfit by taking care of business here.
By the way: Finishing top six in the Big East is going to be a whole thing this year. Butler has ascended to #12 in the country this week, Xavier went from not receiving votes at all to #25, and Georgetown is still holding onto a ranking with a 1-1-2 record after starting the year at #2 in the United Soccer Coaches top 25. Oh, and Creighton went from no votes in the preseason to #7 back out of the top 25 in the newest poll. If you’re counting, that’s four teams with an argument that they are well in front of Marquette in the pecking order right now. That’s not a lot of margin for error in this league, but that’s a conversation for October.
Match #4: vs Michigan Wolverines (1-2-1)
Marquette is 3-1-1 all time against Michigan. The two teams last clashed in 2018, with the Wolverines coming out ahead, 3-0. The Golden Eagles are unbeaten (1-0-1) against Michigan in Milwaukee.
If you take into account last season’s 8-7-3 finish for Michigan, this year’s middling at best start is right about what you’d expect. The flip side of that coin is that the Wolverines were picked to finish fourth in the Big Ten this season after finishing fourth a year ago and they lived up to their seeding by advancing to the conference tournament semifinals before bowing out to top seeded Penn State.
Michigan’s biggest problem this season? They’re not scoring goals. They’re at just one on the year, and that one came in the 82nd minute of their home date with Gonzaga. They have two shutout losses — albeit one at then-#17 Duke, so, y’know, not the biggest deal even if it was 3-0 — and a scoreless draw in their most recent match at home against Bowling Green. They’re almost dead even on shots with their opponents, edging them out slightly 48-45, and considering Duke beat them in that department 16-8, that’s a pretty strong indication of quality possession in their other matches. It’s just not turning into goals, and putting just 27% of their shots on frame is definitely not helping that condition. Heck, given that opponents are putting 51% on goal, they should probably feel lucky to have a win and a draw out of this year so far.
There’s not much to talk about with Michigan’s offense through four matches. Nicholas Kaloukian leads in shots with eight, but 12 guys have taken at least two so far. Christian Pulselli is UM’s lone goal scorer this season, and the senior from Massachusetts hasn’t attempted a shot in either of Michigan’s matches since then.
Keeper Hayden Evans is averaging nearly five saves a match so far to keep himself at a goals-against average of exactly one goal per 90 minutes. The sophomore from the mean streets of McLean, Virginia, is stopping nearly 83% of shots on net so far this season, and given how many opponent shots are on net, that’s a pretty great job. While the Wolverines don’t have a shiny record at this point of the season, Evans does have two shutouts in the books already.
Match #5: at Wisconsin Badgers (1-2-0)
Date: Monday, September 12, 2022
Time: 7pm Central
Location: McClimon Soccer Complex, Madison, Wisconsin
Streaming: Maybe? Literally none of UW’s home matches have notes about streaming this season. BTN+ is probably your best bet, but that requires a subscription.
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteSoccer
Marquette is 18-31-11 all time against Wisconsin. However, things have tilted the other way lately, with the record at 6-4-1 in the last 11 meetings. The Badgers came out ahead the last time these two teams hooked it up, getting a no longer possible double overtime victory almost exactly one year ago. These two teams have not played a match where both teams scored at least one goal since a 2-1 Marquette victory in 2012.
Wisconsin got screwed by the weather, there’s no other way around it. Remember Marquette’s season opening 4-2 loss to #11 Tulsa? The Golden Eagles and the Badgers swapped opponents for the first weekend of the season, which means the Golden Hurricane went out to Madison after facing MU. From UWBadgers.com:
Thunder storms were all that could stop the Wisconsin men’s soccer team on Sunday at McClimon Soccer Complex. The Badgers, up 3-0, got within 75 seconds from an official victory over No. 11 Tulsa, but the untimely appearance of lightning halted the action for good.
It officially goes down as a no contest after the teams played 68:15 of the required 70 minutes to make it count.
A scoreless first half played out, then a nine-minute stretch in the second half broke open the game for the Badgers.
At a glance, that 1-2-0 record is not good. Also Wisconsin was running it up on a team that led Marquette 3-0 and would have won 4-1 if not for a final minute goal by the Golden Eagles. So, maybe, Wisconsin is better than “picked to finish eighth in a nine team Big Ten.”
Or, considering matching 2-1 losses on the road to both Milwaukee and Western Michigan, maybe Wisconsin is a team destined to wrap up the year towards the basement of the Big Ten. What makes both losses troublesome for the Badgers is that they scored first in both matches. Early goals at that, one in the 5th minute and one in the 13th. In the case of Milwaukee, the lead did not last til halftime and then the Panthers booted in the winner before the hour mark.
The Western Michigan game..... hoooooboy. Speaking of results that suck: Imagine scoring in the 13th minute, and then leading allllll the way past the 84 minute mark.... and then giving up an equalizer. And then this as time expires:
For those of you playing along at home, yes, that is former Marquette defender Jonathan Robinson punching in the buzzer beater.
By the way, Wisconsin isn’t going to be at that much of an advantage relative to rest for this match, and in fact, you could argue that they’ll be at a disadvantage. They’re all the way down in Alabama to take on UAB on Friday night before making their way back to Madison to prep for Monday’s game against MU. Meanwhile, Marquette? Hosting Michigan, so no travel at all for them.
There is a four-way tie for the Wisconsin team lead in points at this point of the year. Jack Finnegan and Aron Saevarrson both have a goal and two assists, while Inaki Iribarran and Max Keenan have both found the back of the net twice so far. Tim Bielic is joined with Finnegan and Saevarrson for the team lead in assists right now, which makes for a pretty dynamic offense just three official matches into the campaign. For whatever it’s worth to you, Finnegan scored two of Wisconsin’s goals against Tulsa, while Iribarren had the third. None of those goals count, but it’s the attitude that’s important for scouting report purposes.
Carter Abbott has ran off all 270 minutes in net so far this season, so it seems safe to presume he’ll be the starter when Monday comes around. He gets no credit for holding Tulsa scoreless, so his goals-against average sits at 1.33 thanks to giving up two in each of UW’s last two contests. Abbott does have a save percentage of 71.4%, which sounds good...... but he only has 10 saves in three matches. Seems like his defense is doing a decent job preventing good looks, other than the four times that a shot has gone in.