Marquette captures Big East American Division

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Katie Miller has been a constant in the back line for Marquette this season

Katie Miller has been a constant in the back line for Marquette this season.

The Marquette women’s soccer team defeated St. John’s 1-0 Sunday – a victory that signified much more than just three points and the end of the regular season.

Becky Ryan, a senior, scored the game-winning goal in the 87th minute. The team clinched the Big East American Division title for the first time ever. And coach Markus Roeders captured his 200th victory with the team.

“I’m ecstatic for our team. They’ve worked extremely hard,” Roeders said. “They’ve done well playing together as a team and just pushing each other throughout the year.”

The team is unbeaten in its last seven games and has allowed just two goals during that span. Goalkeeper Natalie Kulla had a record-breaking season, notching a team record 13 shutouts.

A major part of Kulla’s success was the solid back line in front of her. Seniors Katie Miller and Allison McBride, junior Lauren Thut and freshman Ally Miller shielded the Golden Eagles’ goal all season and allowed just 10 goals in 19 games.

“Overall we’ve been pretty solid and consistent,” Katie Miller said about the defense. “I really feel good about the defense right now. We’ve come a long way and made one of our goals, but we’re not done yet.”

Another season-long element Marquette possessed was its ability to play strong up to the final whistle. Four of Marquette’s Big East victories came on game-winning goals in the 89th minute or later.

“Everyone does their job and everyone puts in the effort to be successful,” junior midfielder Julia Victor said. “Because we put enough effort into the entire season, we came out champions.”

One trait that will benefit Marquette going forward is the team’s ability to compete with anyone in the country. On Sept. 3, the Golden Eagles traveled across town to take on Wisconsin-Milwaukee, which had not lost at home in its previous 24 games. Marquette prevailed, 2-0.

Two days later, the Golden Eagles played then-No. 1 North Carolina and suffered a slim 1-0 defeat despite a valiant effort.

“We feel that we can play with anyone,” Victor said. “In the past we’ve looked at teams like Notre Dame and UConn and got overexcited, but this year we know we can compete.”

Roeders said this team has been focused on winning the conference since the end of last season.

“Standing at the top of conference requires a lot of dedication and hard work,” Roeders said. “And it started the day after we lost to Minnesota last year.”

Roeders is referring to last season, when the Golden Gophers knocked Marquette out in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

With the No. 1 seed in the American Division, the Golden Eagles drew a bye into the quarterfinals. They will play the winner of Connecticut and Villanova Sunday, Nov. 1 at Valley Fields.

“We’re definitely peaking at the right time. We’ve gone unbeaten in seven games and the attitude with the team is great,” Roeders said. “The only thing we can do is play our game and control our own destiny.

“From here on out, there are no easy teams. Everyone will push us to the limit.”

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