Last weekend’s trip out east for Marquette women’s soccer was stupid.
First, they let in a goal in the 82nd minute to lose 1-0 to Providence in a match that would have been awfully helpful to come away with a draw in, and then they went to Villanova and things got stupider. In a match against one of the teams below them in the Big East table, Marquette needed to equalize the contest in the 52nd minute and then hold on for dear life for the remainder to get a draw with Villanova. In the process of earning that draw, Isabella Cook was shown a straight red card for fighting in the 53rd minute, so she won’t be available for the Golden Eagles on Thursday night by rule.
Just a big ol’ pile of foolishness on several levels.
With that said, Marquette heads into the final three matches of the regular season just one point off the pace for the sixth and final spot in the Big East conference tournament. They have seven points with a record of 2-3-2, while Seton Hall is 2-3-3 and thus has nine points. Two things are important right now: 1) Seton Hall has played one more match than Marquette, which is helpful to the Golden Eagles, and 2) Marquette lost 1-0 to Seton Hall back on October 5th, which is not helpful to the Golden Eagles on multiple levels.
Heck, technically speaking, Marquette’s still alive for the Big East regular season title right now. They could end up with 17 points, and since Georgetown — Thursday night’s opponent, as luck would have it — sits in first place with just 16 points, there’s a mathematical chance still open to the Golden Eagles.
There’s nothing about how this season has gone for Marquette that says they can suddenly flip a switch and rattle off three straight wins to pull off their end of what’s necessary for that, though. The Golden Eagles have a -8 goal differential and are nearly getting doubled up in shots on a nightly basis with averages of 6.9 shots for and 12.4 shots against. It would require a drastic amount of change in tactics and probably luck as well, and I just don’t see that happening.
I’d settle for doing Mikki Easter a favor and making her life much simpler. Easter has made at least four saves in each of Marquette’s last five matches, partly because MU’s defense isn’t cutting off shooting chances and partly because Marquette’s offense can’t keep the ball on the other end of the field. It’s one thing to be struggling to come up even in matches, it’s another thing to be crossing your fingers that Easter can just save your way through 90 minutes of soccer.
Big East Match #9: vs RV Georgetown Hoyas (8-1-7, 4-0-4 Big East)
Marquette is 3-11-1 all time against Georgetown. The Golden Eagles come into this match riding an eight match losing streak against the Hoyas as well as a 10 match winless streak. October 2013, when a ranked Golden Eagles squad stomped out a top 10 ranked Hoyas team 4-0, is such a long time ago. On the current losing streak, Marquette has scored just one goal, and that was from Kylie Sprecher back in 2018 in a match where the Golden Eagles eventually surrendered an equalizer and a golden goal to end up with the loss to #4 Georgetown. Since Sprecher’s goal over 309 minutes against Georgetown ago, the Hoyas have scored eight unanswered goals, including the 81st minute winner in D.C. last season.
Georgetown lost a match, 3-2, on the road against Princeton back on September 14th. That is their only loss of the season. That was their non-conference finale, and you can see that the Hoyas are undefeated since. I suspect that even Georgetown is getting tired of all of the draws this season, especially since it’s generating drama for them relative to the Big East regular season championship. They’re sitting on just 16 points, one ahead of Xavier, which holds a record of 4-0-3 and the Musketeers have one more match to play down the stretch than Georgetown does.
With that said, they’re lucky to not have a loss. Last time out against Providence, they gave up an eighth minute goal and only equalized one second before the 88 minute mark. Against Seton Hall, a 59th minute goal put the Pirates out in front, but Georgetown pulled even in the 87th. They went to a scoreless draw against Xavier in Cincinnati, but the Musketeers outshot the Hoyas 18-7. They’re playing with fire to say the least, but I don’t know if Marquette has the ability to burn them.
Georgetown’s not going to allow a lot of shots, averaging 8.4 per game this season. That’s gone up a little bit in league play to 9.5, but that’s still not a great sign when you’re averaging less than seven shots per game like Marquette is this year. The Hoyas have a +10 goal differential on the year, mostly because they’ve only allowed eight goals. That means they’re not crazy high powered on offense themselves, which explains all the draws to a certain extent. Natalie Means is their top goal scorer with four on the year, but she’s tallied just twice in Big East matches. Allie Winstanley is GU’s most likely shooter, leading the team with 27 shots, but she has had to settle for just three goals and an assist to land one point behind Means in the points department.
Allie Augur is back in the lineup and back patrolling the net for Georgetown after missing three non-conference contests, including the loss to Princeton. She’s allowed just three goals in Big East play, although two of those are in GU’s last three matches. You’re going to need an electron microscope to see her goals-against average, which stands at 0.31 per 90 minutes right now. Augur stops over 90% of shots on goal, so even if Marquette finds a way to generate chances, they’re going to have to be the best chances they’ve created all season to find a way to beat her.
Big East Match #10: vs St. John’s Red Storm (8-5-3, 3-4-1 Big East)
Marquette is 16-1-2 all time against St. John’s. Before last year’s 1-1 draw in Queens, the Golden Eagles had won six straight matches against the Red Storm. Both draws and the loss in the series have been on the road, which makes Marquette a perfect 9-0-0 at home against the Red Storm since the series started in 2005.
Before taking a 3-0 loss to then-#19 Xavier on Sunday, St. John’s was undefeated in four straight matches, going 3-0-1 in that span. They did have just one road contest in there, and they came away from Omaha with a 3-2 win over Creighton thanks to an 88th minute winner from Angelina Scoma. That’s a great turnaround for the Johnnies after opening league action with three straight losses, although no one’s faulting them for dropping a contest to Georgetown. Their recent unbeaten run makes them one of five teams in the conference with 10 points in the standings right now, and so they’re in control of their own destiny when it comes to qualifying for the six team Big East tournament.
Marquette’s biggest challenge in this match will be corralling Jessica Garziano. She’s currently leading the Big East in points with 25, although she has to settle for second best to Seton Hall’s Natalie Tavana in points per match, but just barely. Garziano is tied for the second most goals in the Big East with eight, and she has a monster sized lead for assists. Garziano has assisted on nine of the 21 St. John’s goals that she hasn’t scored herself. That’s a lot of offensive production, and keep this in mind: She has nearly three times as many shots as anyone else on the SJU roster.
By the way! If Marquette does find a way to isolate Garziano and neutralize her, they’ll still have to contend with Lauryn Tran — four goals and five assists — as well as Nicole Gordon, who has three goals and four assists. Both Tran and Gordon would be running away with the points lead if they played for Marquette, and they pretty much have no chance of catching up to Garziano at this point of the year.
Maria O’Sullivan handles the netminding duties for the Red Storm. If the Golden Eagles can figure out a way to slow down the Red Storm attack and swing the ball in their favor, they might have a decent time trying to find a goal here. O’Sullivan is stopping just 68% of shots on goal this year, which is how you get to a 1.33 goals-against average. Big East teams have been giving her fits, as that save percentage drops to just under 67% and the GAA balloons to 1.75.