Strong play not fully rewarded

The Marquette women’s soccer team hosted Auburn and New Mexico over the weekend, going 1-1 in the annual Milwaukee Cup Tournament.

On Friday night, junior forward Rachel Sloan gave the Golden Eagles an early one goal lead over the Tigers at the 13:31 mark, and the Marquette defense kept Auburn’s attack at bay throughout the match.

Goals from freshman midfielder Maegan Kelly and sophomore midfielder Lisa Philbin in the final 20 minutes of the game put Auburn away, as Marquette won 3-0.

Sunday afternoon’s game against New Mexico saw the Golden Eagles drop a heartbreaker in overtime 1-0, after dominating in possession time and shots on goal for the entire match. The loss dropped Marquette to 2-1-1 overall on the season.

Despite a bittersweet weekend overall, physicality was the one factor that was consistent throughout Marquette’s performance in both matches. The defense seemingly matched its opponents step for step, stifling nearly every threat that it faced. For every attacker there was a Golden Eagle defender diving for the ball, making a great tackle or simply out-hustling the competition.

This physical approach to the game is crucial to the type of possession-based play that makes Marquette a force in the Big East. One of the biggest factors in Marquette’s success is what head coach Markus Roeders calls winning the ‘50/50’ balls.

“We stress it in every game. We stress it in practice. Our coaches always preach that when you win the ‘50/50’ balls you win the possessions,” Philbin said when asked about her team’s approach. “We’re a possession team, so it’s definitely one of our goals to win those, and with that comes the physicality of the game.”

Sloan, a member of the preseason All-Big East team, is confident about the team’s chances this season based on Marquette’s performance thus far.

“I think we’ve done a really great job possessing around other teams and creating an offense when we can,” Sloan said. “If we keep possessing around teams like this, I think we’re going to do really well.”

Roeders is pleased with his team as well but still recognizes that there is work to be done.

“I think we got better this weekend, it’s something we have to build on. Our expectations are high; they’re high all the time,” Roeders said. “I think we have a talented squad here. We’ve been successful already both here and on the road.”

The biggest factor that needs improvement in Roeders’ eyes is his team’s ability to put the opposition away.

“We have to just finish games,” Roeders said.  “We have to have a ruthless attitude about putting the ball in the back of the net. As long as we keep a team that’s maybe not as good as us in the game, they have a chance to win it.”

The Golden Eagles will try to rebound from their defeat in the tournament next weekend when they travel to Minneapolis for the Minnesota Gold Classic. There they will take on San Diego Friday night and UC-Santa Barbara Sunday morning.