Marquette Wire

Postseason begins at home

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Back-to-back division champions and a perfect 11-0-0 Big East regular season record is nothing to be ashamed of.

But the postseason is where it counts, and the Marquette Golden Eagles have plenty to play for when they host either Pittsburgh, which finished fifth in the American Division, or DePaul, which finished fourth in the National Divison, at Valley Fields Sunday in a quarterfinal match of the Big East Championship.

Win and move on to the semifinals at Rutgers University with a chance to win a Big East Championship for the first time in program history — not to mention the increased likelihood of hosting an NCAA Tournament Regional.

Lose and possibly face getting placed on the road for the NCAA Tourney despite a 14-2-3 overall record and No. 12 ranking, according to Soccer America, which is the highest ranking for Marquette since the 2005 season.

Many of the players seem indifferent as to who they play in the quarterfinals, but are excited just to get the chance to be there.

“It doesn’t matter if we play Pitt or DePaul, we just want to keep winning,” sophomore forward Rachel Brown said. “We know we’ll probably be playing past Sunday no matter what, but we want a few more wins to show that we’re one of the best teams in the country.”

DePaul (10-8-2, 5-6-0 Big East) heads into the postseason on a four-game losing streak and will host Pittsburgh (7-10-2, 4-6-1 Big East) today at 2 p.m., with the winner having the unenviable task of trying to beat Marquette on its home turf.

The Golden Eagles are 7-1-1 at Valley Fields this season, including a perfect 5-0 at home in Big East play.

“We play good at home or on the road, but it’s always good for our fans to get to see us, especially in a tournament setting,” freshman defender Katie Hishmeh said.

Hishmeh will be participating in her first postseason appearances and admitted to a bit of nervousness before the most important part of the season.

“Yeah, I’m a little nervous, but it’s just a chance for me to show that I belong on the field,” Hishmeh said. “We have a lot of experienced players who have been there before, and they’ll show us the way.”

Marquette defeated Pittsburgh 2-1 on the road on Sept. 26, with the help of goals from Brown and senior defender Lauren Thut.

Marquette has not, however, played DePaul in the regular season since 2008, when many of the players on the roster were still in high school and not yet on the team.

“We play DePaul in the spring, but it’s not really their whole team, so there’s a bit of uncertainty with that,” coach Markus Roeders said. “No matter who we play, we’ll be ready.”

If Marquette does defeat Pittsburgh or DePaul, then it will play a semifinal match against either South Florida or Georgetown on Friday, Nov. 5 at Yurcak Field on the campus of Rutgers.

“If you go by the standings, we’re supposed to play Notre Dame in the championship game, but a lot can happen between now and then,” Roeders said. “We’re just going by the old cliché of taking it one game at a time.”

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