It was senior night for the Marquette women’s soccer team, and you could not have drawn up a better ending.
Sophomore forward Rachel Sloan scored in the 108th minute in double overtime and the Golden Eagles defeated Connecticut 3-2 Friday night.
In what was a thriller from start to finish at chilly Valley Fields, Marquette came from two goals down to defeat the nationally-ranked Huskies.
“You can’t ask for a better senior night,” senior forward Anna Sawicki said. “There’s no better way to win than scoring a last minute goal.”
Marquette looked dominant from the get-go, but in the 15th minute, the Huskies took advantage of a free kick rebound, and Connecticut defender Danielle Dakin ripped a shot past Marquette keeper Natalie Kulla from 35 yards out to go ahead 1-0.
“We knew they shoot from long distance and she put a good goal away,” Roeders said.
Then, five minutes later, the Huskies struck again.
Connecticut forward Linda Ruutu dribbled down the right side of the goal box and found fellow midfielder Melissa Busque in the middle who headed it past Kulla.
The Golden Eagles looked defeated. The few runs they made were broken up by the Husky defense, which played physical all night. Coach Markus Roeders believed they were too physical and was cautioned with a yellow card for arguing with the head referee.
Maybe that yellow card was all his bench needed to hear.
In the 40th minute, Golden Eagle defender Lauren Thut served a cross to the back post and Stephanie Vasos, who recently subbed into the match, drilled a header over Huskies keeper Jessica Dulski.
The attitude on and off the field immediately changed and Marquette came firing back.
“We just never gave up and kept pushing,” Sloan said. “It was really important to get this win. Our seniors deserved it because they’ve worked hard all four years.”
Sawicki, who hasn’t seen much playing time this year, could not have found a better time to notch her first goal of the season.
Just two minutes after Vasos scored, Sawicki collected a rebound at the six yard box and headed it past Dulski to equalize the game at two.
The Marquette bench erupted and Sawicki was mobbed by her teammates on the field.
“It was a thrill,” Sawicki said. “I hadn’t scored yet this year and I think it added a lot to the tenacity of our team afterwards and it boosted our morale.”
Neither team could find the goal in the second half, which pushed the game into overtime, where Sloan’s heroics were put on display.
With just under three minutes to play in the game, Sloan beat the last Connecticut defender and slipped the ball into the far corner, notching the golden goal.
For the second time, Marquette erupted and charged the field in celebration.
“This is huge for us going forward,” Sawicki said. “We want to win our last six games of the season and beating UConn is a big step forward.”
Sloan said the goal was the highlight of her career and was thrilled with the victory.
“This game was a big push forward,” she said. “If we play like this against all teams I think we’re going to be unstoppable.”