The Marquette women’s soccer team closed out its regular season the only way it knows how: with a win.
Saturday night’s 4-0 victory over South Florida on Senior Night marked the second time in three seasons the Golden Eagles have gone unbeaten in Big East play, finishing the 9-0-1.
Over those three campaigns, Marquette is 30-1-1 in Big East play.
“After a while tonight, we started breaking them down,” coach Markus Roeders said. “We had to grind it out in the beginning and once we started to play, we scored goals.”
It was the final regular season home game for six seniors, but it was by no means the end of the road at Valley Fields for the Golden Eagles.
Marquette had already assured it would host a Big East quarterfinal matchup Sunday and play either Connecticut or Rutgers in Milwaukee. There is also a good chance the team will host an NCAA Tournament game for the third straight season two weeks from now.
The Golden Eagles had also clinched their fourth straight American Division championship last weekend.
It would have been easy for Marquette to sit on cruise control and rest some of its starters with nothing to play for, but there was no sign of a let down after the first 15 minutes of play.
“I thought once we got a feel for the game, we started breaking them down and things started happening,” Roeders said. “Once we put a goal on them, it kind of put them on their heels a little bit.”
Senior forward Lisa Philbin scored a goal and described the game as “a special feeling and one that I’m not sure I’ll ever have again.”
“It was so incredible from the minute we walked into the locker room,” Philbin said. “It was such an adrenaline rush as a senior, and once we got a few goals, it all kept flowing.”
It was win No. 250 for Roeders and associate head coach Frank Pelaez at Marquette and the ninth shut out in 10 matches for the Golden Eagles.
The combination of a high-powered offense and lockdown defense has Marquette in top gear heading toward the postseason.
“We came out ready to play, and this is a great point to build on and keep moving,” senior midfielder Rachel Brown said. “It’s the closing of this chapter and the opening of the next.”
All six seniors started the game, including midfielder Sam Vicker, who hasn’t had a chance to see much game action in her career.
“They’re an incredible group of women and the hardest-working group of women we’ve had,” Roeders said. “At the end of the day, they are very much team players.
“They’re individuals, but they’re a group of six, and within that you take them as kind of a nucleus of what this team is and should be representing.”
Many of the players on the team said winning the Big East Tournament, a feat the team has not yet accomplished, would be a main goal coming into this season.
Now that the regular season is over, the team’s mindset is to make sure it takes games one at a time.
“We’re only guaranteed one more game, but hopefully there are a lot more beyond that,” Brown said.