Women’s soccer split matches with Big 10 foes

Rachel Sloan (right) gave the Golden Eagles a 2-0 lead over Purdue.

The Marquette women’s soccer team closed out its spring season Saturday afternoon with a 1-0 loss to Illinois and a 2-0 win over Purdue. The loss was the Golden Eagles’ first of the spring season, which they finished 6-1-1.

For both matches, Marquette was without the services of goalkeeper Natalie Kulla, who was in Corvalis, Ore., training with the United States U23 National Team, leaving the Golden Eagles to use a combination of four different players, Ashley Stemmeler, Stephanie Vasos, Lauren Acree and Lisa Philbin, in goal.

“It’s definitely different, especially with how special a player Natalie is,” junior forward Ashley Bares said. “We could have used it as an excuse for losing, but I thought we did alright. It’s definitely not something we want to do again if we don’t have to, though.”

The Golden Eagles started off the day with a 1-0 setback to Illinois. Nikki Read scored the lone Illini goal in the 11th minute. Marquette created plenty of chances throughout the game, holding a 15-8 shots advantage, but was unable to capitalize on any of those attempts.

Marquette then closed out the afternoon with a 2-0 shutout of Purdue. Bares and sophomore forward Rachael Sloan each scored for the Golden Eagles in the second half.

“We did a better job finishing in the Purdue game as opposed to the Illinois game,” Bares said. “We had a lot of the same opportunities in both games, but we were able to push two through in the second.”

After rain poured down for the first 35 minutes of play, leaving the Golden Eagles unable to generate much of an attack, Marquette played arguably its best soccer of the day in the final 20 minutes and scored a pair of goals as a result.

Bares got the Golden Eagles on the board with a goal in the 49th minute off a free kick from junior defender Lauren Thut. Sloan anchored the win with a goal in the 63rd minute. Freshman midfielder Rachel Brown fed Sloan, who finished her shot on the far post.

Marquette owned a 9-7 shots advantage against the Boilermakers.

“We had a tough time with the rain in the first half of the Purdue game, but luckily it slowed up a bit and we were able to get the ball moving a little bit and scored twice,” Bares said.

“The rain was very difficult to play in, but give our team credit because they improved over the course of the first half and really tried to possess the ball,” coach Markus Roeders told the Marquette athletic department. “Overall, it wasn’t our best performance until the last 20 minutes of the match, when we dominated, and the goals were the reward for our hard work.”