In Marquette men’s soccer’s last two matches, they’ve suffered their first two non-victories of the year. It might just be a coincidence that the Big East opening loss to Creighton and the Milwaukee Cup draw with UWM were the first two matches of the season away from Valley Fields..... but with Marquette scheduling the most home matches in decades, it’s hard to say that’s not playing a part in the proceedings.
In any case, Marquette’s 6-0-0 start to the season is still enough to keep the Golden Eagles in the United Soccer Coaches rankings this week. The draw with Milwaukee might affect that next Tuesday, but you know what would go a long way towards making that not happen? Coming away from Indianapolis with the first win of Big East play.
It’s a little early to start declaring anything must win for Louis Bennett’s guys, but with an eight match league schedule and a divisional format, things start getting interesting very quickly. Saturday’s opponent is in MU’s division and they already have a Big East win. Going out on the road and giving yourself the tiebreaker with that team could be important down the road.
The other thing to think about is that Marquette has gone in and had problems with teams that were themselves struggling through the first month of the season. Creighton was 1-3-2 when that match kicked off, and Milwaukee was 2-4-0 with two Horizon League losses already on their dance card. As you’ll see in a second, Saturday’s contest is yet another go-round with another team with an underwhelming first month. It would be very much in MU’s best interests to go ahead and step on their neck when they have a chance.
Big East Match #2: at Butler Bulldogs (1-4-1, 1-0-0 Big East)
Marquette is 7-7-1 all time against Butler. The series had been tilting in MU’s direction with a 3-0-1 burst between 2018 and the spring 2021 season, but the Golden Eagles have lost each of the last two encounters to let the Bulldogs even the all time record out.
The good news for Butler is that they’re standing in first place in the Big East after one match. The bad news for Butler is that 2-1 road victory over Villanova to open things up was their first win of the season. Part of this might just be scheduling, as Saturday’s contest will be just the second home match of the year for the Bulldogs. Part of it is an inability to put the ball in the net, as they’ve been shutout three times, one as a scoreless draw with Western Michigan, and they’ve scored just one goal in two other matches. The two goals they found against the Wildcats is their highest output of the season.
For a bigger good news/bad news situation, let’s drill down on that goal scoring situation. If you’re saying, hey, don’t they have Palmer Ault, the preseason Offensive Player of the Year in the Big East, is something going on with him? Yeah, so here’s the problem. Ault has scored all four Butler goals this season. He’s averaging just over two shots a match, and six of his 13 attempts have been on goal, with four of those six going in. Palmer Ault is doing just fine. Butler’s doing absolutely nothing to support him. Well, almost nothing, as they do have four assists on the season, but Dutch junior/newcomer Jan Quispel has accounted for half of them.
Butler needs to find their offense, and merely shoring up their defense would go a long way towards solving their offensive problems. They’re not that far off from getting doubled up on shots per game, and keeper Caleb Norris is averaging six saves per game. He’s doing a great job, stopping over 81% of shots on goal, but with over 15 shots per game flying in his direction, coming up with a save at that rate still has him letting in 1.33 goals per 90 minutes. The Golden Eagles average just over 14 shots per game, so this may be a game where MU can keep things on their offensive end of the field for an awfully high percentage of the game.