LEARY: 2012-13 marks banner year for Marquette athletics

Patrick Leary

Patrick Leary

From the first night of the fall sports season, the 2012-13 Marquette athletic year was destined to be special.

That night, sophomore men’s soccer striker Sebastian Jansson hit a game-winning volley that found the back of the net just as time expired. That shot not only launched a 12-game winning streak for the men but kicked off a landmark year for Marquette that pushed the entire athletic department forward on the national scale.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that every single Marquette sports team improved in 2012-13.

In the fall, both soccer programs stepped into uncharted waters. The men’s team posted its 12-game streak and made the NCAA tournament as the No. 7 overall seed. The women’s team won its fourth consecutive Big East American division championship but won the Big East tournament for the first time. It was denied a berth in the Elite Eight in a penalty kick shootout.

The women’s volleyball team didn’t win a game in the NCAA tournament like it did in 2011, but it established itself as the undisputed second place team in the conference. It set a new high water mark for wins with a 27-7 record, losing only to Louisville from Sept. 15 until the NCAA Tournament.

On the court, the men’s basketball team won its first ever Big East regular season title, sharing the honor with Georgetown and national champion Louisville. The men didn’t lose at home all season and advanced to their first Elite Eight since Dwyane Wade and Tom Crean were here in 2003.

The women’s team made improvements, albeit small ones. They reached the WNIT, and Brooklyn Pumroy established herself as the point guard of the future.

Just taking the field was a plus for Marquette’s spring debutants, the men’s and women’s lacrosse teams. The men’s team has one game to go but already look poised for success after a recent three-game winning streak. While the women finished 2-15, they played competitively with a few future conference opponents.

Perhaps most important, Marquette secured its athletic future by spearheading a Big East redesign that emphasized its basketball-first athletic structure. It ensured the future of competitive college athletics in Milwaukee.

I came to the Tribune this fall not expecting to do important work right away. Instead, I quickly took over the volleyball beat and became sports editor after just three months on staff. This was truly an incredible year to cover Marquette sports, and I could not have asked for a better opportunity.

Then again, I’m a sports fan. I’ll be expecting even better performances next year.

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