Superb spring season concludes in Champaign

The women's soccer team heads to Illinois in hopes of completing an undefeated spring season.

When the Marquette women’s soccer team completed its spring opening weekend in Texas, it appeared not much had changed since the fall.

The Golden Eagles played two hard-fought, low-scoring matches in the Lone Star State against Baylor and Texas A&M. Marquette defeated the Bears, 1-0, and tied the Aggies, 2-2, but that was the beginning of a new, offensively-driven Golden Eagle squad.

Since that stint in College Station, coach Markus Roeders’ squad has been firing on cylinders, going 4-0 and scoring 13 goals.

“We’ve done great this spring, and we’ve really been pushing each other,” junior forward Ashley Bares said. “We’ve worked hard and it’s paying off on the field, so that pushes us even harder because we’re seeing good results.”

Overall, Marquette has outscored its opponents 16-4, and 10 different players have tallied goals for the Golden Eagles.

“We’ve been creating a lot of opportunities,” sophomore forward Lindsey Page said. “In the fall we didn’t create as many chances as we would have liked, and we’re just finishing more now and taking advantage of our opportunities.”

After competing in Texas, the team returned to the comforts of Valley Fields for four-straight matches, including a 4-0 win over Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a 5-0 victory against DePaul.

“We have always had a strong belief in never letting up,” Page said. “I think that in the past, shutouts have been one of the main goals, so that carries with us whether it’s spring, fall, no matter what team.”

Marquette will complete its spring season in Champaign, Ill., Saturday against two Big Ten squads, Illinois and Purdue. Bares, who has tallied four goals this spring, looks forward to ending the season with a chance for two victories over solid Big Ten competition.

“I’d love to come home with two more wins,” she said. “That would be the ending to a great spring season.

“We just need to keep building on what we’ve been doing.”

With the Golden Eagles playing their best soccer of the year, coach Markus Roeders is looking for a perfect end to a superb spring season.

“We’re playing great soccer and that comes on both ends,” Roeders said. “Defensively, we’re doing what we’ve always been doing and offensively, we’re getting more people involved and more people are putting themselves in situations to score.”

Illinois, a 2008 Sweet 16 team, struggled throughout the 2009 fall season, finishing with a 7-9-3 overall record while going 2-6-2 in Big Ten play. In just two matches this spring, the Illini dropped a 9-0 decision to professional squad Chicago Red Stars and tied Missouri, 1-1.

The Boilermakers of Purdue earned an at-large berth to the 2009 NCAA Tournament, but bowed out in the first round to Central Michigan, 2-0. Before heading to Champaign Saturday, Purdue took on the Mexican National Team yesterday  in preparation for its season finale against Marquette and Illinois.

“Big Ten Teams are good, physical and athletic teams, but our focus this spring has been on what we do,” Roeders said. “If we can raise the bar one more time, I think the girls would be satisfied.”