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Marquette Women’s Soccer Preview: at UW-Milwaukee & at UW-Madison

The Golden Eagles hit the roads (of varying length) to try to find a way to score goals this season.

NCAA Basketball: Horizon League Tournament-Wright State vs Milwaukee Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Three straight shutouts. Four shutouts on the season. One goal on 33 shots, and that one goal was a little bit lucky to drift to Caroline Cline’s foot at the far post on a corner kick. 6.6 shots per game while allowing 15 attempts on the other end.

The Marquette women’s soccer offense seems to be horrifically broken.

It’s not just that they’re not scoring goals. It’s that fields are getting horribly tipped against them, which indicates that they’re not even doing a good job generating pressure on the offensive end. Perhaps it’s worse than that, perhaps the problem is that Marquette is struggling to even get the ball to their forwards to mount an attack.

Whatever Marquette’s problems are on that end of the field, the inability to swat the ball into the net got magnified in a horrible way last time out. MU actually finished their most recent contest with an advantage in shots, and yeah, it was only 9-8, but when you’re getting more than doubled up on average, you take narrow victories when you can get them and you try not to think about how bad the average was before that. However, the Golden Eagles went to a 3-0 loss against UIC because the defense went to pieces at the three worst times in the entire match. First a tangle between keeper Mikki Easter and her field defenders let the Flames get free for a goal, then the defense let a UIC attacker go unmarked on a corner kick, and then the back line was just inexplicably too high, given the ball’s placement on the field at the time not to mention the 2-0 deficit, and the Flames were able to easily fly past it to beat Easter for their third goal of the match.

Marquette’s defensive attitude can’t be “we’ll let Mikki Easter worry about that” and their offensive attitude can’t be “well, the goals will come for us eventually.” They’re about to face two teams that have played right along side some of the best teams in the country already this season, and two teams that currently hold a shots per game advantage over their opponents. Whatever Marquette has been doing to this point of the season, it’s not really working, as evidenced by their 1-3-1 record and their more than 300 straight minutes without scoring a goal. Something needs to change, and it needs to change in a hurry if the Golden Eagles want to look competitive in their matches this weekend.

Match #6: at Milwaukee Panthers (3-1-2)

Date: Thursday, September 7, 2023
Time: 7pm Central
Location: Engelmann Field, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Streaming: ESPN+
Live Stats: Stat Broadcast
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWSOC

Marquette is 10-11-8 all time against Milwaukee. They have played in every season except for when COVID presented scheduling problems, which means that they picked the series up again last year after taking 2020 and 2021 off. The series has heavily tilted in UWM’s direction since 2014, as Marquette is just 1-4-2 against the Panthers in the last seven meetings.

The 2023 campaign got off to a good start for Milwaukee, up to and including taking a 1-0 halftime lead on the road against then-#3 Notre Dame. That didn’t hold, but the Panthers did rally to leave South Bend with a draw. They beat Minnesota 1-0 and went to a 3-3 draw with Denver over the same weekend that Marquette hosted those same teams as that was officially a co-hosted event between the Panthers and the Golden Eagles. That’s a fascinating set of results, as it kind of goes in direct contrast to how MU fared against those two squads: Getting shelled by Minnesota in a 2-0 loss and stalemating the Pioneers for 90 minutes.

In any case, Milwaukee’s first loss of the season came back on Thursday night as they took a 5-2 loss on the road against #8 Arkansas. That one was kind of over before it started, as the Razorbacks scored on their first and fourth shots of the game, both in the first 20 minutes, with the fourth actually being a penalty kick. They turned around and smashed Western Illinois on Sunday in the most recent contest, outshooting the Leathernecks 29-2 in a 4-0 win.

All of that has Kayla Rollins holding a slim team lead in points with three goals this season. She’s scored in each of Milwaukee’s last three matches after not even posting a shot in the first three contests of the year. There’s a three-way tie for second in points and goals right behind Rollins, as Clara Broecker, Brooke Parnello, and Kat Van Booven all have two goals and an assist so far this season. The Panthers have 11 assists on 15 goals this fall, so that’s going to be an interesting challenge for Marquette’s defensive structure.

There’s a little bit of intrigue going on with Milwaukee’s goalkeeping situation. Kendall Edwards has started every single match this season, but she’s only finished four matches. Parker Donahugh has come on in relief at halftime in both of the Panthers’ last two contests, but I suppose that deserves some clarification. They were trailing Arkansas 3-1 at intermission, and then had a 3-0 lead on Western Illinois on Sunday when Donahugh came in. Still, Edwards hasn’t been knocking them dead out there. The redshirt sophomore from Libertyville, Illinois, is stopping just 69% of shots on goal and leaving that Arkansas match early has let her goals-against average balloon to 1.80 right now. Donahugh has worse numbers — 2.00 GAA, .500 SV% — but that’s in limited time. I doubt head coach Kevin Boyd is looking to make a change, but Donahugh did start eight matches for the Panthers last season.

Match #7: at Wisconsin Badgers (3-1-2)

Date: Sunday, September 10, 2023
Time: 1pm Central
Location: McClimon Soccer Complex, Madison, Wisconsin
Streaming: BTN+, if you’re so inclined to subscribe
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWSOC

Marquette is 5-9-2 all time against Wisconsin. For a stretch there, this was not a regular season game but an exhibition only encounter for the two sides, but they had played in every season between 1995 and 2004. It went back to a regular season matchup in 2018, but this is the first time the two sides have met since COVID. Wisconsin has won three straight meetings dating back to the 2016 NCAA tournament, while Marquette hasn’t beaten the Badgers since the 2005 NCAA tournament, although the Golden Eagles did advance past Wisconsin on penalty kicks after a 2-2 draw in 2010’s national championship tournament.

Wisconsin started off the season 1-1-2, but that deserves a little bit of explanation, because it’s better than it sounds. The Badgers didn’t allow a goal through their first three matches, and that includes going out to Chapel Hill and holding #3 North Carolina scoreless for 90 minutes. They also only scored one goal in their first three matches, beating UIC — yes, the UIC team that just beat Marquette 3-0 — with just a lone 13th minute goal making the difference. The loss in that four game start was in Game #4, and if you lose 2-1 to #4 Duke in their building, well, that’s life.

The Badgers have won two straight since that loss to the Blue Devils. They beat LSU 3-0 at home, and then scored twice and then held on for a 2-1 victory on the road against Western Michigan this past Sunday. Feels like just about the right expected start for a team picked to finish fifth in the Big Ten this season.

Emma Jaskaniec is the only Wisconsin player to score more than once this season. Both of her strikes came in the LSU game, so that’s slightly misleading to say that she’s leading the offense this year. She is leading the team in shots with 12, but we do have to note that half of those came in the UIC match. Aryssa Mahrt has tallied three assists on the year to lead in that category after she helped out on both goals against the Broncos in their most recent game. Jaskaniec and Mahrt are the only two UW players to put an assist on the board so far this season.

Erin McKinney’s been doing some work in net for Wisconsin this year. She’s allowing just 0.50 goals per 90 minutes and stopping 90% of shots on goal, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. She’s already recorded 26 saves this season, which means she’s averaging over four per match so far. Those numbers are extremely helped out by five saves in the scoreless draw opener against Kansas and another eight in the scoreless draw with UNC, but saves are saves, y’know? It is worth noting that McKinney is listed at just 5’5”, which is a little bit surprising for a goalkeeper.