Marquette women’s soccer coach Markus Roeders has a phrase posted on his office door, a motto he and the Golden Eagles try to live by each fall.
“Enthusiasm, loyalty gives you confidence, which leads to success.”
Indeed, success has been plentiful for the team in recent years. Marquette has played in five straight NCAA tournaments and won four straight Big East American Division titles. In addition, the Golden Eagles have 17 consecutive winning seasons.
Marquette posted an impressive 18-2-3 campaign in 2012, which ended in penalty kicks at BYU in the NCAA tournament’s third round.
As the Golden Eagles continue to increase their standards, making an appearance in the tournament simply doesn’t cut it anymore.
Roeders prefers not make predictions this far ahead of the season, but he expects nothing less from his players than the effort they have put forth in the past.
“If we can do a great job during the season, that can really set up the scenarios you can have in the NCAA, hosting the first round, maybe hosting the second and third rounds,” Roeders said. “I think (looking ahead) would be premature right now because there’s just so much that goes into it.”
Senior class provides strong unity
The nine seniors returning collected their share of achievements in their time in Marquette uniforms, current junior midfielder Cara Jacobson pointed out.
“There isn’t anyone in our class who knows anything other than a Big East championship,” Jacobson said. “I think that’s very unique.”
Roeders said each of the seniors could be in the starting rotation. After losing key contributors like Ally Miller, Rachel Brown, Rachael Sloan, Megan Jaskowiak and Lisa Philbin, Roeders said he has confidence the new seniors can step up and fill those gaps.
“Defensively, we lost some key players – we can’t deny that,” Roeders said. “(The seniors) all have experience. They all have played significant minutes. The core group is fantastic. We’ve got to keep building with some of the younger ones and slide in some talented freshmen who will come around.”
Junior Ashley Stemmeler said her final year will include many bittersweet moments.
“It’s kind of a one-and-done deal, so definitely work your butt off in the spring and the summer to make the most of the fall season, because you’re not going to get this one back,” Stemmeler said. “It’s a different mentality as a senior to go out there and (think) this could be your last game or last tournament.”
Team expects to shine in new Big East
Marquette and Georgetown will likely jockey for position at the top of the new Big East standings. Newcomers Creighton, Butler and Xavier have yet to climb into consistent NCAA tournament consideration and will likely struggle in their first seasons in the conference.
Creighton finished 3-13-3, Xavier was 6-12-1, and Butler was 12-5-4 last year. Jacobson said this won’t change Marquette’s approach to game preparation.
“Our goal, no matter where we go and no matter who we play, is to put our style on to them,” Jacobson said. “(That’s) the nice part about this new conference for us.”
Roeders said the strength of the league has slightly softened. The seven teams continuing with the Big East are familiar with one another and make for exciting competition. Creighton, Butler and Xavier have minimal history with each other.
“We’ve all played and beat up against each other in the past,” Roeders said. “The three teams that are now joining in – they haven’t experienced that.”
A busy offseason
The Golden Eagles have stayed sharp by competing against several classes of opponents this semester.
Last month, Marquette battled the Chicago Red Stars, a professional soccer team from the Nation Women’s Soccer League, and fell 2-0. The Golden Eagles hosted the U16 Ontario Canadian national team April 3, a match Marquette won 3-1.
In all, Marquette will have played nine matches by the end of the spring. The Golden Eagles compete on six days this semester, three of them doubleheaders. Roeders said he doesn’t mind the bustling offseason slate and views each spring game as beneficial heading toward the more crucial matches come August.
“You’re trying to develop as a team, and you’re trying to develop individually,” Roeders said. “Sometimes the individual aspect is more important than the overall team development. We have a lot more time to spend with them individually in individual training, within practice settings. The spring is always a great time to experiment because we’ve played a variety of different teams.”
Expectations and hopes remain high
The Golden Eagles could play multiple matches in the NCAA tournament if the team remains healthy and wins the matches in which they are favored. The shakeup in the Big East could make Marquette’s road to another conference title easier, but this is a squad that wants to take the season one game at a time.
The players are aware of the high skill level they possess and are not going to let it go to waste.
“Just seeing what we have here already, we do have the capabilities to be very successful … making the NCAA tournament again and doing well in the Big East,” Stemmeler said. “We should be a top contender in the championships and the conference in general.”
Jacobson said the players and coaches have played all spring with intensity as high as they have in August. Their standard in the program may be steadily increasing with each winning season, but that is the kind of pressure the team will embrace.
“Every one of us, we want it to be the best (season) ever,” Jacobson said. “Every one of us will want this season to look back on and say, ‘This was the best season we’ve ever had.’ I don’t think anyone wants to go out any other way.”