Marquette Wire

Women’s soccer gets revenge on Minnesota

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WSoccThere were many differences between the Marquette women’s soccer team’s season-ending loss to Minnesota in the 2008 NCAA Tournament and the rematch Sunday afternoon at Valley Fields.

Yes, forward Ashley Bares was back on the pitch for Marquette. Yes, goalkeeper Natalie Kulla was between the posts for the entire game. And, of course, the Golden Eagles came out on top of the tilt, defeating No. 23 Minnesota, 1-0.

And while the timing of the victory is nowhere near as significant at this point in the season as it would have been in last year’s tournament, perhaps what is even more important than the victory itself is what it represents.

With the win, Marquette improves to 5-2-0 on the season and remains undefeated at home. And while it is just one victory, after defeating a tough Wisconsin-Milwaukee team and holding close with No. 1 North Carolina, this win might just serve as the proverbial hump in the Golden Eagles’ season.

“It’s rewarding for the players that were there last year,” coach Markus Roeders said. “Obviously it was extremely painful.

“Did we package everything around (that loss)? No, because it is a new year. … What matters today is what we did as a team today.”

And the players understand what their accomplishment—getting over that hump—will mean going forward.

“I think mentally, for us, it is definitely a different kind of mental edge that we bring to the game (now),” senior defender Allison McBride said.

Of course, losing in the tournament last season was  the last thing Marquette would have hoped for. But if there is a silver lining in the situation it is that the loss to the Gophers last season set up the significance of this win and the momentum that it could provide—not to mention a resume booster the Golden Eagles could use when looking for a 2009 NCAA Tournament bid.

“This is a big win for us as far as when we get down the road toward tournament time,” McBride said

It is also a big win for a defense that appears stronger every game. The unit followed up a one-shot effort Thursday night against Wisconsin-Green Bay with a one-shot second half against Minnesota.

So far this season, Marquette has held opponents to a .041 shot percentage, compared to last season’s .086. It’s that kind of team defense, backed by the play of Kulla (0.42 goals against average, .870 save percentage, five shut outs) that is keeping the Golden Eagles in these close matches.

For his part, Roeders has made sure his players know this isn’t where improvement stops—it is where it starts.

“We’ve got to fine tune some things, we’ve to got sharpen up a little bit and create more opportunities,” he said. “We can’t rely on winning 1-0.”

Nevertheless, sometimes all that business of symbolism and improvement can wait, and payback is really what matters.

“We have to keep working hard and getting better,” said senior forward Becky Ryan, who scored the lone goal against Minnesota. “But it’s a great feeling to give them a little taste of what they gave us last year.”

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