Thursday is the final match day in the 2023 regular season for Big East women’s soccer. First place Georgetown is the only team that’s done, wrapping up their slate at 6-0-4. The Hoyas have clinched at least a share of the regular season title, as second place Xavier — hey, that’s Marquette’s opponent on Thursday! — can still pull even with them at 22 points with a victory.
But we’re here for what’s going on with Marquette, of course. The Golden Eagles are 2-5-2 in league action this year, which gives them eight points in the standings and leaves them in a tie with Butler for eighth place. The top six teams in the standings make the conference tournament for women’s soccer, so you can see that this is not good news for Marquette. Sixth place is currently held by Seton Hall with 10 points, so MU has not been eliminated yet. They can get to 11, so they could still swipe that sixth and final spot.
Here’s what they need to happen that’s completely out of their control, though:
- Seton Hall to lose at home to UConn at 5pm Central time. MU lost to the Pirates, so they can not tie with them at 11 points and still get in.
- DePaul to lose or draw on the road against St. John’s at 6pm Central time. A win for DePaul = 12 points, and that’s no good for Marquette.
- Butler to lose or draw at home against Creighton at 6pm Central time. Marquette lost to Butler, so they can not remain tied with the Bulldogs and still get in.
Marquette will, of course, have to also win their final regular season match of the season. They have to pass Seton Hall’s 10 points to do that, and that means getting a win and three points to reach 11. Easier said than done though, and I don’t mean that just because of the opponent. MU hasn’t won a match since September 28, going 0-4-2 in the month of October so far. The Golden Eagles have scored just one goal in that time. It is going to take a radical change in either tactics, execution, or performance by Marquette, or perhaps all three. MU gives up nearly twice as many shots as they attempt on average, and they’ve conceded more than twice as many goals as they’ve scored this season. It is probably not a coincidence that Marquette is the only team in the league committing more than 12 fouls per game...... and they’re just short of 13.5.
The only way this season continues past Thursday night in Ohio is if Marquette gets three big breaks that they can’t control and play their best match of the season. No big deal, right?
Big East Match #10: at #17 Xavier Musketeers (12-2-4, 5-0-4 Big East)
Marquette is 9-3-1 all time against Xavier. The Golden Eagles have gone 2-1-1 against the Musketeers since surrendering the first ever losses in the series in 2018 and 2019, but the loss and the draw are in the last two encounters. MU is just 2-2-0 in the series when the matches are played in Cincinnati.
As you can tell from that Big East record, the Musketeers are undefeated in their last nine contests. It’s actually their last 10, as they defeated Rice, 4-2, in their non-conference finale. FUN FACT: Those two goals scored by the Owls are the most goals that Xavier has given up in a match all season. FUN FACT #2: Xavier comes into Thursday night riding a shutout streak over just over 488 minutes. They haven’t allowed a goal in any of their last five matches — going to two scoreless draws in that time — and the last player to score a goal against the Musketeers was Seton Hall’s Natalie Tavana. She’s the only player in the Big East with a double digit goal total this season. Heck, that goal by Tavana is the only goal that Xavier has allowed in their last eight matches.
This is a bad sign for Marquette and their moribund offense.
On the other end of the field, Xavier leads the Big East in shots per game, which is also bad news for the Golden Eagles. The Musketeers more than double up their opponents in the shots department, going for 17.5 of their own on average while allowing just 8.2. Samantha Wiehe leads the charge on offense with a team high six goals and a tie for the team lead with five assists. Wiehe is one goal ahead of Shelby Sallee in that column and tied with Kennedy Clark in the other. In terms of shots, Wiehe, Sallee, and Clark are three of the five women with at least 30 attempts on the season, so Xavier’s not going to be running short of options to launch it at the MU net.
All but 22 minutes of action in net this season has been taken up by Maria Galley. The sophomore from Connecticut has obviously been stellar all season long, but she’s been especially on point against league foes. Season long, her goals against average is just 0.45 and she stops 86% of shots on goal. In league, those numbers are 0.22 and 90%.