With a season long goal differential of -6 and a per game shot differential of -5.6 to go along with a flat even record of 5-5-3, it’s hard to say that the 2023 season is going particularly great for Marquette women’s soccer.
However, through four Big East matches, Marquette finds themselves with two wins and a draw. That’s seven points in the table, and has them tied for fourth. They’re even with Providence, one point behind Xavier and Connecticut, and three points behind Georgetown. While it’s “only four matches,” it’s still 40% of the 10 match schedule in the books, and MU stands firmly in control of their destiny relative to the six team conference tournament.
With three of those four teams still left to go on the schedule, you could argue that Marquette has nothing but big opportunities left in front of them. The flipside of that is that the schedule is about to get a lot more difficult, particularly with Georgetown and Xavier in two of the final three matches of the regular season. That means that the Golden Eagles can not let chances for points against relatively comparable teams in the standings — say, a Seton Hall team with four points through four matches — slide past them. With six matches to go, you can’t call Thursday night Must Win for Marquette, and I think using the word Crucial is also not quite accurate.
Critical? Maybe. Pivotal? That seems like a good descriptor. Marquette can pivot one way or another in the standings after 90 minutes in Milwaukee on Thursday night. Pivoting to the positive side of the ledger would definitely be in everyone’s best interest.
Big East Match #5: vs Seton Hall Pirates (5-5-2, 1-2-1 Big East)
Marquette is 9-2-1 all time against Seton Hall. Last year’s 1-0 loss to the Pirates snapped a five match winning streak for the Golden Eagles and was SHU’s only win in Big East play.
Let’s start with the good news for Seton Hall. With five wins on the year already and a 1-0 win over St. John’s on September 28th, the Pirates have tied last year’s end of season marks for victories. If they tack on one more W over their remaining six contests, they’re coming out of 2023 with the ability to say that they improved year-over-year. I’m pointing this out and giving them this credit because they were picked to finish last in the Big East this season. With four matches in the books for SHU, they have more points than four other teams in the league, and that includes two squads that are still without a single point in the table.
Seton Hall is coming into Thursday night on a two match unbeaten streak. After that 1-0 win over the Johnnies where they tethered themselves to a fifth minute goal by Natalie Tavana and held on, SHU hosted #24 Xavier on Sunday afternoon in their most recent contest. Once again, it was Tavana providing the fireworks for the Pirates, scoring in the 52nd minute. The Musketeers evened the match out in the 66th, but Seton Hall held on, even while getting outshot 7-1 in the final 22 minutes.
Those two goals earned Tavana Offensive Player of the Week honors from the Big East on Monday, and it’s well earned. She leads the conference in goals scored this season as she’s the only one to get to 10 with two players tied for second with seven. As of Monday, Tavana was also 12th in the country in goals scored, and she leads the league in points per match as well at 1.91. Obviously, figuring out a way to stop her from scoring is the key to beating the Pirates, but that’s easier said than done. Tavana has 41 of Seton Hall’s 143 shots on the year, more than twice as many as anyone else, and no one else on the roster has scored more than twice. Heck, Phoebe Hampson is the only other Pirate to have scored twice, and that’s exactly where she is: Two goals.
Skyler Matusz and Sophie Liston have taken advantage of their teammate’s ability to put it in the net. They’ve each tallied four assists this season, which has them tied for the second most in the Big East this season. It’s a very long list of women tied with four helpers, and I’m guessing it extends past the nine people that the Big East lists on the official stat sheet at the moment.
Given how the last two matches have gone, I presume that we’re going to see Anna Prawer in net on Thursday night. Prawer made her third career start against the Johnnies and then was back out there again for the Xavier match. If it’s working, it’s working, and if you’re head coach Josh Osit, you have to just keep running with that. Prawer has allowed just one goal this season in 270 minutes of action on 10 shots on goal. Her goals-against average of 0.33 is microscopic, especially in comparison to the 1.78 that Morgan Fedosiewich had through starting the first 10 matches of the year.