Women’s soccer knocked out of Big East Tournament Friday

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The Marquette women's soccer team was knocked out of the Big East Tournament Friday, and with the loss they may be saying goodbye to the 2008 season.

Marquette's tournament run ended with a 2-0 loss at the hands of Notre Dame at Alumni Field in South Bend, Ind.

For the third time in four years, the Golden Eagles were knocked out in the semifinals of the Big East Tournament, all at the hands of the Fighting Irish. The Golden Eagles now hope to snag an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament, a feat which they were not able to achieve last year.

The Fighting Irish controlled the game from the get-go, proving to the Golden Eagles and the rest of the country why they are 20-0-0 and ranked No. 1 nationally.

"They're a national championship type of a team," said coach Markus Roeders. "They're extremely talented…they've got all the weapons."

"If they're focused…they can tear you apart and they've done that to enough teams this year," Roeders said.

Natalie Kulla, along with the help of the three white bars surrounding her, was used as target practice as the Fighting Irish fired 27 shots, five of which clanged off the posts.

Kulla, who has provided the Golden Eagles with stellar goalkeeping all year, did all she could to hold Notre Dame to two goals, a stat which could have been much higher.

Playing solid defense "is about organization and organizing your defense," Kulla said. "You just have to go in with mindset of playing the best you can. Keep your head in the game and be aware for anything."

Kulla did record a career-high 9 saves, but it wasn't enough to keep the pesky Fighting Irish off the scoreboard.

Notre Dame's first tally came in the 27th minute as junior forward Michelle Weissenhofer received a pass from freshman phenom Melissa Henderson and drilled it past Kulla.

The second goal for the Irish, coming only five minutes into the second half, all but stuck a fork in Marquette as Notre Dame's sophomore forward Taylor Knaack collected a rebound in the box and fired it past Kulla.

The Golden Eagles, having struggled offensively all year, never really produced a serious scoring threat against the nation's top ranked defense, and registered only 1 shot on goal.

Marquette, however, was without sophomore forward and recent goal-scoring machine Ashley Bares, who was a late scratch due to a foot injury.

"For us (Bares) has been a big goal-scorer as of late; she could have created a couple more opportunities," Roeders said. "She could have been the one putting them away, but it's really more of an overall all-around effort that has to happen."

With the defeat today, Marquette will await the NCAA's Selection Committee decision on whether or not postseason play will continue for the Golden Eagles.

Being denied an NCAA Tournament berth last year, senior defender Katie Kelly is hopeful of better luck this time around.

"I think we have a good chance," Kelly said. "Last year we weren't so confident so I guess my confidence level is higher going into Monday than it was last year."