The Golden Eagles return to Valley Fields with an eye on a second straight Big East victory.
I can not, in good conscience, pretend to explain to you what is going on with Marquette men’s soccer right now.
I mean, these are just the facts:
- Start off the year with three straight wins, averaging well over two goals per game
- Lose four straight while not scoring a single time
- Score three times in 70 minutes and fall 10 seconds short of a clean sheet against a Seton Hall team that was receiving United Soccer Coaches top 25 votes after starting the year ranked #10
Go ahead, make sense of it, I dare you.
Marquette is currently tied with their opponents in terms of goals for and against through eight matches. The Golden Eagles are getting outshot 12.5 to 9.8 on average this fall, but MU’s precision (.462 shot on goal percentage) is dramatically outpacing their opponents (.340 SOG%) so it’s not like getting outshot is the worst thing in the world, either.
Through two matches, Marquette has three points in the Big East standings. It’s not great, but it’s not awful, either. There are still eight matches to go before the regular season is over, and that’s a lot of opportunities to pile up a few more points and end up in the top six to qualify for the conference tournament.
You know what that’s going to take? Consistency. Once we can get some consistency around here, then maybe we can start really diving in to what’s going on with this team.
Big East Match #3: vs Providence Friars (6-1-1, 2-0-0 Big East)
Marquette is 4-10-2 all time against Providence. The Friars have won each of the last three meetings, all by shutout while outscoring MU 6-0. PC has won five of the last six meetings and Marquette is winless in the last seven. In fact, MU’s four wins in the series all came in a row from 2011 through 2013.
Providence comes into Milwaukee with wins in their last four matches and unbeaten in their last five. They started off Big East play with a 3-2 win over Seton Hall when they stunned the Pirates with two goals just 77 seconds apart with less than nine minutes left to play. After a 3-0 mid-week victory on the road against Brown, PC hosted Xavier last Saturday for their most recent match and yet again came away with a 3-2 win. That one was a bit more comfortable for the Friars, as they were knotted at 1 at the half and then scored in the 62nd and 75th minutes and only had to deal with a penalty kick goal of their own making the rest of the way from the Musketeers.
Marquette’s defense is most likely going to be sorely tested in this match. The Friars are nearly doubling up their opponents in shots this season, averaging 14.0 per game for and only 8.3 per game against. That sounds like a recipe for disaster for a Golden Eagles squad that was struggling to put the ball in the net before thrashing Seton Hall last weekend. Providence even has the goal differential to go with those shots, as they actually are more than doubling up their foes, 23-10, in the scoring department.
Brendan McSorley is the most dangerous offensive weapon on the Providence roster, and, well, Marquette is going to have to pay very close attention to figure out when he’s on the field. McSorley has appeared in all eight matches so far this season, but he has only played in 371 minutes of action. The sophomore from New Jersey has only started twice and hasn’t played more than 59 minutes all season. He is, however, on a four match goal streak to bring him to six goals and an assist on the year to lead the team in both goals and points. McSorley is only one point ahead of Davis Smith in that column, as Smith has four goals and four assists. Smith is also a part-timer, even though he has started in six of seven matches. He has only played in 431 minutes and has only cracked 65 minutes twice.
To be clear: McSorley and Davis aren’t just a couple of lucky sonofaguns. McSorley leads the team in shots with 18, while Davis is in a tie for third with 12. These are PC’s primary offensive weapons, they’re just not on the field the whole time.
When it comes to goalkeeping, the name to know is Lukas Burns. The sophomore from New Jersey has played all but 26 minutes this season, so it’s safe to expect to see him on Saturday night. Providence might be outscoring teams easily, but that doesn’t mean they’re not letting in goals every night. Burns has a goals-against average just barely over one per 90 minutes, so the odds of getting at least one goal are in MU’s favor here. Burns is stopping 75% of shots on goal this season, and he’s averaging three saves per game right on the nose to do that.