Women’s soccer remains perfect after a pair of 2-1 victories

Marquette is 3-0 in the Big East this year.

The Marquette women’s soccer team (6-3-2, 3-0 Big East) rallied from an early goal deficit to defeat the West Virginia Mountaineers 2-1 on Thursday night at Valley Fields.

The game was dominated by physical play with 22 fouls in the game and a yellow card from the Golden Eagles’ senior midfielder Rosie Malone-Povolny, in what has become a bit of a heated rivalry between two teams predicted to finish first (Marquette) and second (West Virginia) in the American Division of the Big East Conference.

“When we come out here we expect the game to be physical, and it just so happened that there were a lot more fouls called than usual,” freshman midfielder Maegan Kelly said.

The Mountaineers (4-4-1, 0-1-1 Big East) were coming off a shocking 1-0 victory over previously ranked No. 5 Virginia last week and got off to a quick start Thursday night.

West Virginia midfielder Bri Rodriguez received a short pass from senior Megan Mischler and flickered her shot over the head of Marquette junior goalkeeper Natalie Kulla in the ninth minute of the game.

Marquette made a few adjustments following the goal, going to a “three up top” formation, according to junior forward Rachael Sloan, and was able to stretch the West Virginia defense.

“We were able to find a few gaps, and a few of their outside backs got out of position and (we) were able to counter and throw off their defenders a little bit,” Sloan said.

The Golden Eagles were able to adjust quickly and evened the score on senior forward Ashley Bares’ second goal in as many games. Bares received a pass from Kelly and buried a shot out to the far post, past senior goalkeeper Kerri Butler in the 22nd minute.

Kelly scored what would prove to be the game winner in the 41st minute after receiving a perfect through-ball from senior midfielder Julia Victor and blasting a shot past Butler to give Marquette a 2-1 lead at halftime.

“If I didn’t have the ball (from Victor) I would have never had a chance,” Kelly said. “We did a great job passing tonight and preventing them from getting good looks at goal on defense.”

The win gave Marquette a 2-0 start in Big East play before starting a season-long five game road trip, which started with another 2-1 victory over Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon.

Marquette head coach Markus Roeders thought the team’s best stretch of the game was played from the time after West Virginia’s goal until halftime, when Marquette seized control of the game.

“Our best spell was during that 25-30 minutes,” Roeders said. “We didn’t play that great in the second half, not settling it down very well, but we won and that’s the biggest thing.”

The home win is something that the team hopes will propel them to a good run for the rest of the season, especially with so many games on the road.

“It puts us in a good position, but there are nine games (now eight) left,” Roeders said after the West Virginia game. “I wish we would have played a little more (aggressive) soccer throughout the game, but it’s always nice to win at home and take it from there.”