Marquette Wire

Men’s soccer prepares for a high-stakes match with Creighton

Photo by Jordan Johnson

Photo by Jordan Johnson

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Marquette will host Creighton tomorrow night at Valley Fields with massive implications as both teams attempt to secure a spot in the BIG EAST Tournament in two weeks.

If the season ended today, Marquette would be the final team to qualify for the conference tournament. Meanwhile, Creighton, at eight, and one point above Marquette, would occupy the fifth slot. Three teams are tied in seventh with six points, and just four points separate seventh place from third place.

CURRENT BIG EAST STANDINGS (As of Oct. 24)

1 (tie). Georgetown (5-1), Butler (5-1), 15 points

3. St. John’s (3-2-1), 10

4. Xavier (3-3), 9

5. Creighton (2-2-2), 8

6. Marquette (2-3-1), 7

7 (tie). Providence (1-2-3), Villanova (2-4), Seton Hall (2-4), 6

10. DePaul (1-4-1), 4

Marquette and Creighton are polar opposites of each other stylistically. Creighton is a run-and-gun, high-press offense, and as a result, has the second highest goals in conference with 25. Marquette is last in conference with 12 goals, or 0.92 per game. The Golden Eagles’ offense is deliberate and relies heavily on its central and wing midfielders, who advance the ball with precise passes.

Meanwhile, the Bluejays’ defense has been stout this season, giving up only 15 goals, while Marquette has given up 1.89 goals per game, the worst mark in conference.

Regardless of what the stats say on paper, Marquette assistant coach Sean Hughes knows how vital this game is, and he believes the staff has prepared the team well for the challenge.

“We feel like we’re in a strong position to move forward,” Hughes said. “We got a few guys back, it’s been a good week for us so far, and most importantly, (we’ve) been able to practice what we do well, and we’ll look to exploit the other teams.”

Marquette’s defense can expect to be tested a lot Wednesday, as the Bluejays average just under 15 shots per game. Creighton has recorded six shutouts this season thanks in part to goalkeeper Michael Kulver. While Marquette’s offense hopes to come alive, its main task will be building out of the back with a strong defensive shift from their back line.

“Obviously, there are certain things that you look for when they attack, and we’re well aware of it, and we’ve addressed it amongst the guys,” Hughes said. “We’ve got to defend well as a group, it’s not just individuals, and a big part of that will be maintaining focus and concentration from the first whistle to the very last kick of the game.”

Another concern to keep an eye on will be the field conditions. Tomorrow will be a crisp, fall evening, with the temperature around 40 degrees. Given the rain that fell Tuesday and into the night, conditions on the grass pitch may be slippery, which could make for an entertaining match full of thrills and spills.

The match kicks off at Valley Fields at 7:05 CT and airs on the BIG EAST Digital Network.

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