The Golden Eagles have two more matches to go before Big East play begins.
Marquette men’s soccer has two big goals for themselves for their next two matches:
- Sell a quality product at a fair price
- Drain the world’s oceans so they can find and kill God
Wait, that’s not right. Let’s try that again.
- Bounce back from a perfectly respectable 1-0 road loss to Tulsa
- Prepare for the start of Big East play
There’s nothing wrong with MU’s loss to Tulsa back on Monday night. The Golden Hurricane are clearly better than being picked to finish third in the AAC this season as their back-to-back wins over top 15 ranked teams indicates. It was Marquette’s first big test of the season, and while you’d like to see a passing grade on the test, you can’t be terribly upset when it’s close and really could have gone either way. Thus, all MU needs to focus on here relative to that match is putting the loss behind them and improving on whatever flaws that Tulsa was able to exploit.
The next two contests, one Friday night on the road and the next at home on Monday, will be MU’s last two matches before the 10 game Big East schedule starts. MU has to be ready to jump in feet first, as Match #2 is against a currently ranked Seton Hall team, Match #3 is against a Providence team that was earning top 25 votes last week, and Match #5 is against a Creighton team that beat the #1 team in the country in resounding fashion. Oh, and there’s always that home date to wrap up the regular season against Georgetown, the current #1 team in the country.
Big East play is going to be a lot on many levels. Marquette has to attack each contest this weekend as if they were Big East matches to prepare themselves fully for the quest for a top six spot in the league table to get into the conference tournament. With Seton Hall stumbling a little bit to start the year, the door is open for Marquette to earn a top two spot in the conference and thus get a bye to the semifinals. But each match must get MU’s best effort this year for that to come in.
Prep for that starts in earnest this weekend.
Match #5: at Northern Illinois Huskies (3-1-0)
Date: Friday, September 10, 2021
Time: 7pm Central
Location: NIU Soccer/Track Complex, DeKalb, Illinois
Streaming: NIUHuskies.com, but it appears to be paywalled.
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteSoccer
Marquette is 17-10-2 all time against Northern Illinois. The Golden Eagles and the Huskies first started facing off in 1966, and for a long time, things went in NIU’s direction as they won six of the first eight meetings. Marquette has won each of the last three encounters, five of the last six, and 11 of the last 13 dating back to 1990. The most recent encounter was a 1-0 MU victory in the spring season.
It’s hard to get a read on Northern Illinois this season. 1-0 win over Purdue Fort Wayne in the opener? Sure, whatever. 2-0 loss at Notre Dame? Okay, sure, the Irish are usually decent at worst. 4-0 at home over St. Thomas in their first season as a Division 1 program? Good for you, but almost unfair. 5-1 at Eastern Illinois on Tuesday night? Well, now you’re just showing off, but that can’t actually be a measure of your quality, can it?
For whatever it’s worth, Northern Illinois was picked to finish fifth in the seven team MAC this season. They were the best ranked team in the preseason poll that didn’t get a first place vote, which tells us 1) the coaches don’t consider NIU amongst the league leaders and 2) the league is still a bit of a jumble heading into the year. This also does not help us sort out what to make of the Huskies’ start to the year.
Nick Markanich is both incredibly fortunate and incredibly dangerous on the pitch. Yes, he’s leading the Huskies in points right now with nine on four goals and an assist. Yes, he’s leading the team in shots with 23 when no one else has more than nine, so it’s a well deserved team lead in goals and points. However, we can’t ignore the fact that all four goals have come in the last two matches, two each, and he got his assist in the last two matches as well while his team was throwing up nine goals in 180 minutes. He has to be #1 on the scouting report because the team is funneling shots to him, but he wasn’t productive until the last two contests. MU will also have to watch out for Enrique Banuelos, who leads the team in assists with three….. and yes, all three of those are in the last two matches as well.
Martin Sanchez has started every match in net for Northern Illinois this season and up til Tuesday against EIU, he had played every minute. I think we can expect him to be the starting keeper again on Friday, and his 0.96 goals-against average and 70% save percentage is pretty respectable. We do have to point out that head coach Ryan Swan swapped to Parker Smith for the second half on Tuesday so there is a chance that there’s a good reason for that which could lead to MU facing off against Smith….. but NIU was also up 4-1 at halftime after scoring three goals in the first 12 minutes.
Match #6: vs Wisconsin Badgers (0-2-2)
Marquette is 17-31-11 all time against Wisconsin. While the all time series is going against the Golden Eagles, that’s mostly early in the series. After Marquette won the first meeting in 1964, they won just two of the next 16 matches between 1965 and 1977. Since 2010, things have favored Marquette to the tune of 6-3-1 with the Golden Eagles shutting out Wisconsin 2-0 in the most recent match in 2019.
The Badgers are winless to start the season, and while I don’t want to say that this was expected, it’s not surprising. Wisconsin was picked to finish dead last in the nine team Big Ten this season. That league doesn’t release point totals for the voting, so I can’t tell you how emphatic the other coaches in the league were in putting the Badgers there, but last is last. To put a different spin on it: Wisconsin started out the year with the same two teams Marquette did: Green Bay and SIUE. While the Golden Eagles went 2-0-0 while doubling those two teams up 6-3 in goals, Wisconsin went 0-1-1, drawing with SIUE thanks to an 89th minute goal by the Cougars and losing to the Phoenix after allowing 88th and 89th minute goals.
They’re currently on a scoreless streak that started just after halftime against Green Bay. Inaki Iribarren scored in the 47th minute against the Phoenix, and Wisconsin hasn’t scored since. They went to a scoreless draw against Western Michigan at home in a match where they outshot the Broncos 14-6 and 14-4 in regulation. That was followed up with a 1-0 loss to DePaul at home as well with the Blue Demons scoring on one of their two shots in the entire game. As you’re reading this on Friday morning, Wisconsin still has one more match to be played tonight before coming to the Valley on Monday. They’re hosting Butler tonight, and the Bulldogs are 1-2-1 on the year.
With 2.5 matches worth of a scoreless streak currently going on, no one is surprised that Wisconsin only has two goals on the season. Iribarren obviously has one, while the other was tallied by Moritz Kappelsberger. Andrew Akindele will still be the top name that Marquette’s defense has to watch out for, as he leads the team in shots with 13. That’s nearly twice as many as anyone else.
Sophomore keeper Carter Abbott went the distance against SIUE and DePaul and played the first half against Green Bay as well. Adir Raphael, a freshman from Israel, picked up the back end of the match against the Phoenix and went the distance against Western Michigan. I’m saying that I don’t really know what direction head coach John Trask is going to go with his keepers against Marquette, and I don’t even know if seeing who starts against Butler will tell us anything definitive. Carter has the better stats, though, with a goals-against average of 0.73 and he’s stopped 80% of shots on goal in his 245 minutes.