The Marquette women’s soccer team erased some unpleasant memories of losing in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament last year with a 4-1 rout of Connecticut Sunday.
Last season, when the Golden Eagles were on a tear, winning their previous 10 games, they bowed out to Notre Dame, 1-0, at Valley Fields in the quarterfinals.
Marquette’s body of work was enough to earn a home match with MAC champion Toledo in the NCAA Tournament, but its season ended with a 4-1 loss to Penn State the following week.
This time, the team advanced to the Big East semifinals, where it will once again see the Fighting Irish on Friday in Storrs, Conn.
“In some ways, it was a good thing to have a chance at UConn again because I think the girls felt there was some unfinished business,” coach Markus Roeders said.
The Huskies prevented Marquette from going undefeated in Big East play, earning a 1-1 draw on Oct. 7. This time, the Golden Eagles never gave Connecticut a chance. The four goals Marquette scored were the most the Huskies allowed since a 4-0 defeat against Notre Dame on Sept. 30.
“I think if someone would have said ‘Hey we’re going to beat them 4-1,’ I would have said, ‘We’d take that result any day of the week,’” Roeders said.
One of the more encouraging signs was seeing senior forward Rachael Sloan score her fifth goal of the season, but her first since a 3-0 win over St. John’s on Oct. 12. Before that game, Sloan hadn’t scored since Sept. 21.
“It was nice scoring a goal, but it doesn’t matter as long as we’re winning games,” Sloan said. “It’s always nice seeing other people score.”
When the Golden Eagles scored their final goal of the match in the 67th minute, it gave Roeders a chance to bring in little-used players like sophomore defender Haley Fritzlen, sophomore midfielder Elizabeth Bollinger and freshman midfielder Ann Marie Lynch.
Redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Sofie Schunk also saw time in net for the first time since an Oct. 5 match against Providence.
The Golden Eagles now advance to the Final Four of the Big East. The last time the team made it this far was in 2010, when it lost a heartbreaker to South Florida.
Despite its regular season success, Marquette hasn’t been to the finals of the Big East Tournament since 2009, when it lost to Notre Dame.
On the other side of the bracket, Georgetown beat DePaul, 1-0, and South Florida advanced, 4-3, on penalty kicks over Louisville, meaning the conference’s top four seeds all advanced to Storrs.
Senior defender Megan Jaskowiak was happy to see the team back in the semifinals, especially after last year’s disappointing finish.
“We kind of had some unanswered prayers last year,” Jaskowiak said. “We really wanted to get there and it didn’t happen. Going back to the semifinals this year is what we aim for, and hopefully we can go all the way this year.”
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Marquette had not made the Big East Tournament championship since it joined the conference in 2005. The Golden Eagles did in fact reach the finals in 2009, when they lost to Notre Dame. The Tribune regrets the error.