With two non-conference matches left to go before Big East play starts, Marquette women’s soccer is 2-4-1. Both wins on the year are by way of shutout as well as by way of a 1-0 margin. Those goals in those two wins are Marquette’s only two goals on the year through seven matches. I guess the good news to the year so far is that they picked up a third shutout by way of the scoreless draw against Denver.
There’s no other way around this: Marquette has the worst offense in the Big East. DePaul has six goals in six matches, so at least they have a goal per match average to show for themselves. Georgetown has just seven goals this year, but 1) like DePaul, that’s a goal per match and 2) they’re unbeaten through seven contests at 4-0-3. Everyone else in the Big East has tallied at least 10 goals right now.
To make matters worse, Marquette can’t even stand on defense and say “hey, look at that.” The Golden Eagles have the third worst goals allowed per match average in the Big East at 1.43 per outing. As such, MU is one of just three teams in the league that are underwater in average goal margin and the only one that is more than a goal per match underwater.
That’s a bad sign for Big East play, yeah?
Enough negativity, because we’re not quite to Big East play, not till next week. Marquette has two more non-conference matches this weekend to try to get themselves righted. We’ve been saying all season so far that the Golden Eagles need to figure out their offense, and it hasn’t quite happened yet. They looked pretty good against Milwaukee last Thursday when they scored late to beat the Panthers, but Wisconsin outshot MU 12-4 on Sunday and knocked in a 79th minute goal to hand out a 1-0 loss. Whatever was working against UWM wasn’t working three days later, so we’ll see what the coaching staff can dial up in this final two home contests before business picks up.
One player note before we head into the opponent section of the show: Goalkeeper Mikki Easter is suspended for Thursday night’s contest against Western Michigan. Easter was whistled for a handball outside the box last time out against Wisconsin, and that call resulted in a straight red card. As such, Easter has to sit out Marquette’s next match. Chloe Olson will be MU’s starter against the Broncos..... because Marquette only has two keepers on the roster. Who is Olson’s backup since Easter’s ineligible to play? A fascinating question that I hope we do not have to answer. Will Easter be back in net on Sunday? That’s for head coach Frank Pelaez to decide.
Match #8: vs Western Michigan Broncos (4-2-0)
Marquette is 3-1-0 all time against Western Michigan. The first meeting was in Kalamazoo back in 2009, and the remaining three contests have been in Milwaukee. Marquette’s lone loss in the series came in the 2013 NCAA tournament, and the Golden Eagles won the most recent meeting last season.
Let’s start here: Western Michigan badly outshot Butler earlier this season in a match that saw seven yellow cards issued as the Broncos beat the team picked to finish fourth in the Big East by a margin of 1-0. What does this particularly mean for Marquette, the team picked to finish eighth in the 11 team league? No idea, because styles make fights, but it’s probably not a great sign, either.
With that in mind, each of WMU’s losses are in their last three contests as they fell 2-1 at home against Wisconsin — the same Badgers that just beat MU 1-0 on Sunday — and they lost 3-2 against Michigan out in Ann Arbor on Sunday. This match will be Western Michigan’s non-conference finale before they start MAC action next Thursday, so I think it’s a safe bet that they’d like to go into league play on a high note against a Big East squad that’s been struggling to put the ball in the net.
The Broncos aren’t really struggling to score goals, as they have 10 strikes in their six matches this season so far. WMU has been spreading the scoring around with four women each tallying two goals to this point of the year. Jen Blitchok and Abby Werthman have both added an assist to their two markers to lead the team in points with five each. With that said, neither one is the team leader in shots. That honor goes to Jenna Blackburn who has 21 attempts but no goals so far this season and only one assist. It seems like a matter of time before the 5’10” senior breaks through after putting up six goals as a sophomore and another five as a junior.
All 540 minutes of goalkeeper this season have been played by Lauren Boafo. The 5’4” junior is stopping 70% of shots on goal, which isn’t too bad. However, WMU allows just a shade over six shots per match and 20 of their 38 shots allowed have been on frame. That’s led to Boafo letting in precisely one goal per 90 minutes of action on average, so if Marquette can muster up the kind of play that they did in the first half against Milwaukee last week, they should be able to find the angles to put it past Boafo.
Match #9: vs St. Thomas Tommies (2-2-2)
Marquette is 2-0-0 all time against St. Thomas. This is the third straight season that the two sides have matched up since the Tommies joined Division 1. There has been one match played in Milwaukee and Saint Paul, and the Golden Eagles have a 5-1 goals advantage in the two match series so far.
The Tommies come into this one winless in their last three matches. That includes a scoreless draw on a road trip out west against Division 2 Western Oregon. It also includes a 5-0 shelling on the road against the Minnesota squad that beat Marquette 2-0 in a match where they outshot the Golden Eagles 20-2. That one fell apart late on St. Thomas, as it was still 1-0 with 20 minutes to play. With that said, UST managed a grand total of zero shots — not on goal, overall — against the Gophers, so I guess Marquette has that slight advantage over them.
Thanks to a 7-0 demolition of Niagara, St. Thomas is outscoring teams 12-7 this season. Mariah Nguyen has the team lead in goals and points with four and eight respectively, but we have to point out that she scored three of her goals against Niagara. Abby Brantner is the only other multi-goal scorer on the roster, and she scored one each against Niagara and Portland State. We should probably also mention that UST beat PSU 4-0, and if you’re counting at home, that’s 11 of their 12 goals on the year.
Olivia Rowe has played all but 17 minutes in net so far this year for the Tommies, as head coach Shelia McGill gave her a break after they took a 6-0 lead on Niagara. Rowe is playing well, as she’s stopping over 81% of shots on goal. If you drop out the 5-0 Minnesota match, she’s only allowed two goals in UST’s other five contests this year, so that’s not too bad. The 5’9” junior’s goals-against average was sitting at 0.26 heading into the match against the Gophers, so we’ll have to wait and see if that kind of defense shows up in the Valley on Sunday.