Marquette Women’s Soccer: Engel beginning to come into her own

Junior defender Katie Hishmeh has seen a lot of improvement from freshman goalkeeper Amanda Engel in six short games. Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.

Amanda Engel is doing what few on the Marquette women’s soccer team get a chance to do: start as a true freshman.

Despite a rocky start to her career even before she arrived in Milwaukee, she doesn’t look like she’ll be giving that chance back any time soon.

Engel, from Centennial, Colo., was about 20 minutes away from the movie theater in nearby Aurora, Colo., on July 20 when James Eagan Holmes killed 12 and injured 58 during a mass shooting at a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises.”

“I actually had no idea what happened until the next day when my mom came and woke me up to tell me,” Engel said. “Everyone was just really surprised and nobody would ever expect it.”

Engel didn’t have any friends or relatives at the theater, which she is thankful for.

“It was one of those times where people come together and they help out any way they can and do whatever is possible to help out the families of the victims and the movie theater,” Engel said. “It was tragic.”

Engel left Colorado for Milwaukee just a week and a half later but said it wasn’t too difficult for her to leave, not having an emotional connection to the shooting.

When she finally did arrive, a concussion  during the first week of practice sidelined her for a few weeks and she was unable to make her collegiate debut until Sept. 7 against North Carolina.

“I think it was a little difficult for her to start out in the preseason with the setback she had, and that’s such an important window to adjust and get into the flow of things,” coach Markus Roeders said.

Just two games later, Engel was starting the Golden Eagles’ Big East conference opener and recorded two saves in a 5-1 win. She hasn’t allowed a goal since.

In eight games, including five starts, Engel has allowed five goals, but four came against North Carolina and Duke. She is 6-0-0 since taking the starting spot from sophomore Sofie Schunk.

“While Amanda was trying to enter, you’re competing against someone who was already here, and Sofie (Schunk) was doing fine,” Roeders said. “We have two really good goalkeepers here who can do the job, and each one does some things really well.”

Roeders gave some of the credit for Engel’s success to a strong defense. Junior Katie Hishmeh and senior Ally Miller have played together for three years and are in year two of playing with senior Megan Jaskowiak. That continuity, Hishmeh said, can’t be overlooked.

“Amanda is doing a great job, and I think it helps that she’s confident back there directing us, and she brings a lot to the field,” Hishmeh said. “She has been making some great saves and has really helped us a lot.”

No matter who is in net this year and in years to come, there will be an inevitable comparison between Engel and Natalie Kulla, which Roeders says is a bit unfair.

“There are some similarities on the technical side between Natalie and Amanda,” Roeders said. “Down the road, Amanda can have a great path, and it might be similar to Natalie’s accomplishments.”

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