The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

GROVER: Women’s soccer kiss of death

EricGroverYou’ll have to forgive me No. 18 in the country, Big East American Division champion Marquette women’s soccer team.

It’s not that I was ignoring you. Quite the contrary. It was a few weeks ago that some of the other guys on the sports desk pointed out that every team I lavished praise on immediately started losing — like being on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

I didn’t want that for you. So I waited. And you delivered.

The women’s team ended its regular season this past weekend with a couple of tough road games in New York — against conference rivals Syracuse and St. John’s. They marched right in and beat them both, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. These Golden Eagles have been winning big games all year long. And they’ve been doing it as a team, with a different hero seemingly every night.

“It gives us a great advantage, because you can’t just outplay one player, because you know that everyone can be the difference,” sophomore goalkeeper Natalie Kulla said. “It shows a lot about our team and about our team chemistry. Hopefully, it will take us farther than we’ve ever gone.”

I haven’t played organized soccer since the third grade (in which my dad volunteered to be league commissioner, not understanding what “commissioner” actually meant), so my on-field experience is limited. However, as a big proponent of the FIFA video game franchise, I’ve gathered a solid understanding of the practical workings of the pitch. Here’s the abridged version: Speed and defense win every time. And Marquette is overloaded with both.

Sophomore Rachael Sloan is the blazing striker who has driven opponents to crying in the fetal position all year long. She leads the team in goals (5), assists (5), points (15) and “A’s” in the name “Rachael” (2).

“She has stepped up and I have so much confidence in her,” senior midfielder Michelle Compty said. “Finishing goals, game winners every other weekend … we’re very lucky to have her on our squad.”

But even more impressive has been the Golden Eagle defense. Anchored by senior defenders Allison McBride and Katie Miller, and with Kulla in the net, the team has been virtually lights-out all season. They’ve allowed just 10 goals in 19 games. For you non-math majors, that’s about half a goal per game. And it’s been this stingy defense that’s kept Marquette in the position to win time after time.

“We’ve really tried to earn our respect this year defensively, not just with our back four or five, but with team defense,” McBride said. “We truly take pride in every shutout that we get. I think we’ve been improving as the season has gone on and we don’t let up in the big games, that’s for sure.”

With the capture of this division crown, 13-year coach Markus Roeders has no choice but to put this team at or near the top of the most talented he’s ever coached, including a Sweet Sixteen squad from 2005. Sunday’s win at St. John’s marked Roeders’ 200th, a monumental achievement in any coaching career. But after earning a No. 1 seed in the conference tournament, he and the team are focused on win number 201.

So, yeah, I hope I didn’t just pull a Beastie Boys and sabotage the postseason. I’d stay away from any mirrors and ladders this week.

By the way, good luck during the Big East tournament. What could possibly go wrong?

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