Defense solid; offense off target for women’s soccer

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The Marquette women's soccer team has taken 32 shots and scored just one goal.

The Golden Eagles have no problem firing away at opponents' goalkeepers; they just can't seem to get the ball past them.

"The thing we need to focus on is putting the ball in the back of the net," junior midfielder Brittany Bares said. "We are getting some looks, now we just need to finish those."

The Golden Eagles held convincing advantages in the shot column in matches against Kansas and Saint Louis last week but found the net just once in two games. Marquette earned a 1-1 draw against the Jayhawks and then Saint Louis, 0-0.

The team heads to Texas this weekend to face off against Stephen F. Austin and Texas A&M where the Golden Eagles will look to put an end to their scoring troubles.

Junior defender Katie Miller said that attacking the opponent's goal is something the team has focused on and will get better at with time.

"I think we've been going forward a lot which is key if you want to score," Miller said. "You have to be strong in your attack.

"Attacking quickly and attacking as a team is really important. As we continue to be more aggressive on offense we'll get some more goals out of that."

One main component Marquette will need to stress in order to succeed is defense. After losing senior defenders Katie Kelly, Shannon Cusick and Kelli DeBarge, coach Markus Roeders has had trouble finding the right mix of players.

"It's a new year, a new team, and all you can do is move forward and learn from the experience," Roeders said. "Other players are now getting more opportunities, and they've been waiting on it. It's now just a matter of stepping out, adjusting and playing more."

Although the Golden Eagles surrendered an early tally to Kansas, the team allowed just seven total shots in the two games.

If Marquette can maintain solid defensive play and produce a well-balanced attack, it should come out of the weekend with positive results.

"As we're looking at the two games really what we're trying to do is just trying to get better," Roeders said. "We didn't convert our chances last week, but as the day progressed the chances we did create were better and better."

Nothing, however, will come easy against a Texas A&M squad which boasts a 6-0-1 record this spring and has scored 29 goals while allowing just four. The Aggies took eventual national champion North Carolina to double overtime in the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight last season but fell 2-1.

"A&M is a great team," Roeders said. "They were young last year, and I think there are a lot of similarities between them and us from the standpoint of youth and growing as a team. I would expect them to be the best team we play this spring."

Overall, the attitude on and off the field this spring has been positive for the revamped Golden Eagles.

"I think we're doing great," Bares said. "We don't really have to stress team chemistry, because our team does get along very well, and I think that shows on the field.

"We're more composed than other teams, and we connect well both on and off the field."