Marquette advances to Big East semifinals

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Members of the women's soccer team lift the Big East American Division trophy.

Before the women’s soccer team could accept its American Division championship trophy Sunday afternoon, it had to play a Big East quarterfinal match against Villanova.

Although it wasn’t pretty, the Golden Eagles squeaked out a 1-0 win over the Wildcats and are on to the conference semifinals.

Junior defender Lauren Thut scored an improbable goal off a corner kick and senior defender Allison McBride made a game-saving clearance on a Villanova shot destined for goal to secure the victory.

It’s been that way all season for the Golden Eagles. They simply find a way to win.

“I’m happy for the girls because they’ve worked so hard,” coach Markus Roeders said. “They’ve earned that trophy throughout the year.”

Following the game, the team celebrated its division title in front of a home crowd for the first time. The team clinched the division title on Oct. 25 when they defeated St. John’s on the road, but this was the first game at home since then.

“The trophy presentation was really great,” McBride said. “We got to celebrate last weekend at St. John’s but doing it at home was so much better.”

The American Division championship was the first ever for Marquette, and it was earned by a determined group who finished the season on an incredible run.

On Oct. 2, the Golden Eagles lost to Rutgers 3-1 at Valley Fields and the attitude of the player’s after the match signified defeat.

“We expect to win at home so there’s definitely more at stake,” senior forward Becky Ryan said. “It’s always important to be at home, and there’s always an extra drive to protect our home field.”

Since the loss against the Scarlet Knights, Marquette has gone unbeaten in its last eight games. The signature win in that string of games may have been a 3-2 come-from-behind double overtime win over Connecticut. After that win, the Golden Eagles have gone 5-0-1 and have not allowed a goal in that span.

“We as a team sat down at UConn and said ‘OK we have six games left. What do we want to do?’ ” said junior midfielder Julia Victor. “And we ended up winning it all, and that was an amazing experience.”

With the division title on the line, the Golden Eagles traveled to New York for its final two Big East matches against Syracuse and St. John’s.

Sophomore Rachael Sloan netted the game-winner in double overtime against Syracuse, and two days later Ryan scored in the 87th minute in the division-clinching match against the Red Storm.

Even on the road, with their backs up against the wall, the Golden Eagles found their way to win both games and were rewarded appropriately with a conference title when it was all said and done.

Ryan admitted that although the team enjoyed its victory at St. John’s, coming home to celebrate was unforgettable.

“Last week at St. John’s was really awesome because we were in the moment, and this (trophy presentation) just brings us back to that,” Ryan said. “It was really special for everyone and the seniors especially.”

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