Five non-conference matches and a double round-robin in Big East divisional play is on tap for the Golden Eagles.
Exactly two weeks before the first match is scheduled to be played, Marquette Golden Eagles men’s soccer announced their 2021 spring schedule on Wednesday. This isn’t the usual spring competition schedule, but instead the 2020 fall season timeshifted to the spring. It is a 13 game slate, with eight matches scheduled as a part of Big East play, and nine contests overall will be played at Valley Fields inside the Andy Glockner Memorial Bubble. Every single one of Marquette’s non-conference matches will be home matches this season, and I suspect that is the case because the Golden Eagles have the seasonal bubble and thus MU can guarantee that there will be a field ready and conditions suitable for playing.
Your non-conference opponents for this season are all relatively local, with Saint Louis making the longest trek to Milwaukee. Loyola Chicago, Northern Illinois, Western Illinois, and Chicago State join the Billikens on MU’s non-conference schedule. Loyola, NIU, and Saint Louis will be the first three games of the season, with WIU coming after Marquette’s Big East opener against Creighton on February 20th. Chicago State will make the trip north on I-94 for the second to last game of the season but the final home contest for Marquette allllll the way down the road on April 3rd. The Golden Eagles do have a fairly notable rivalry series with four of the five squads. MU is 13-0-1 all time against Loyola, and 16-10-2 against Northern Illinois. The series against Western Illinois is deadlocked at 6-6-1 with no meetings since 2012, while Saint Louis, largely thanks to regular meetings back in the Conference USA days, has dominated Marquette. 3-22-2 all time is not a very good record for MU, and they have not defeated the Billikens since 2002. Chicago State is a brand new team to the record books as the two sides have never faced off.
For Big East play this season, Marquette will be playing in the league’s Midwest Division. Things are split up for regional travel, and so we will only see Butler, Creighton, DePaul, and Xavier as opposition this year. With a five team division, the conference has opted to create a double round-robin schedule, just like the one used in basketball. That gives the Golden Eagles eight games — one home and one away against each of their four divisional rivals — to work their way into position to qualify for the Big East tournament. The Marquette press release on the schedule has confirmed that the conference tournament this year will be a four team event, with the top two teams in the Midwest heading in to face off against the top two teams from the East division.
While Marquette can guarantee that the home games will happen no matter what kind of weather thanks to the Valley Fields bubble, that actually reduces the chances of fans being allowed to attend matches this season. Quite honestly, the bubble isn’t that big, and if I recall correctly from being in there for lacrosse, the NCAA soccer field size is larger than that for lacrosse….. which means there’s not as much space for the bleachers for spectators. That’s without even getting into the slight insanity of cramming extra people into a sealed bubble during a pandemic. Thankfully, all home matches will be streamed on GoMarquette.com as per usual, so now we only need to worry about side-eyeing the other four teams in the conference in terms of providing a way to watch for Marquette’s four road games this season.
Here’s the full schedule as it stands right now. I have to say that because there are no start times attached to any of Marquette’s games.