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Searching For Answers: Illinois-Chicago 3, Marquette 0

The Golden Eagles had troubles on both sides of the ball as they got shutout for the third straight match.

Marquette Women’s Soccer Marquette University

Things were going okay, perhaps even well, for Marquette women’s soccer on Thursday evening in Chicago until they weren’t.

Two miscues by Marquette’s defense less than four minutes apart sent the Golden Eagles into the locker room down 2-0, and Illinois-Chicago tacked on an extra insurance goal right after halftime as well. Those were the only goals in the match, all in a 16 minute stretch of elapsed game time, and the Flames handed Marquette a 3-0 loss as a result. MU is now 1-3-1 on the year and has been shutout in three straight contests, while UIC picked up their first win of the season.

The fact of the matter is that Marquette hadn’t even allowed a shot to the Flames in the first half hour of the match. MU managed three attempts of their own on the other end of the field, and UIC keeper Sara Sanabria had to make a save on all three.

And then, in the 31st minute, this.

A little bit of bad luck and bad bounces, to be sure, but the fact of the matter is that Caroline Cline backs up right into Mikki Easter, thus preventing the Marquette keeper for easily snagging the throw-in and terminating the play right there. The tangle forces Easter out of position, Cline heads it away from the front of the net, but right in front of a charging Yulexi Diaz, who goes zipping past Aislinn Boyle. Not really Boyle’s fault as you can easily make the argument that she was waiting to see where Cline’s header went, but it’s still not great as a culmination of events.

And then, less than four minutes later, this.

Okay, it’s a bad clipping job by UIC’s media department, so let me elaborate. It’s a corner kick, and UIC sets up mostly outside the six yard box. As the kick comes in, Easter tries to make a leaping deflection, but UIC’s Bella Baker is flying to the far post — hey, that’s familiar — and thanks to her getting around her defender and Mia Haertle staying attached to the post and not moving to play the ball as it passes Easter, Baker gets it into the net.

2-0, and that was the margin at halftime. Marquette closed the first 45 minutes with a slight shots advantage, 4-3, and they had forced Sanabria into those three early saves. Perhaps an unfortunate margin in the match at that point, but it’s hard to truly say that Marquette’s offense was disappointing them as has been the case in many a match so far this still young season.

And then, less than 90 seconds into the second half, this.

The gut instinct is that Marquette’s defense gets caught wildly out of position and Easter gets burned because she has no help to shut down the UIC attack. Maybe there’s an explanation as to why everyone was that far up the field given the position of the ball at the time, but man, it’s hard to see this as anything but MU’s third really bad defensive failure of the night.

That was the first shot of the second half for either side. The Golden Eagles would managed five shots of their own over the remaining time, including three from Isabella Cook, but just one, Cook’s first try in the 51st minute, ended up as a shot on goal.

Up Next: The good news, such as it is, comes in the form of Marquette now having a week off until their next match. They won’t be back in action until next Thursday, when they make the crosstown trip to take on UW-Milwaukee. First kick on that match is set for 7pm Central. The Panthers suffered their first loss of the season on Thursday night, falling 5-2 on the road to #8 Arkansas to drop to 2-1-2 on the year. One of their draws was a season opening 2-2 tie with then-#3 Notre Dame, and UWM went into the locker room at halftime with a 1-0 lead.