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A run to remember

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Photo Courtesy of Marquette Images

Rarely does a team fully live up to its preseason hype. Rarely has Marquette seen a team as dominant as the 2010 version of the women’s soccer team.

The Golden Eagles were picked to finish first in the American Division of the Big East conference after finishing in that position a year ago.

Junior goalkeeper Natalie Kulla was dubbed the preseason Big East Goalkeeper of the Year.

Junior forward Rachael Sloan was picked for her second straight all-conference first team selection.

It would be easy for this team to let the hype go to their heads, but these Golden Eagles exceeded many expectations on their way to a perfect 11-0-0 mark in conference play and a 16-5-3 overall record.

“We certainly exceeded our goals, but at the same time there were still some things that we didn’t accomplish, which is kind of unfortunate,” senior midfielder Julia Victor said. “It would be nice to still be playing, but that doesn’t take anything away from a great season.”

Kulla dominated in net once again, playing every minute of every match for the second straight season.

The junior registered 10 shutouts for the season and allowed a miniscule 0.88 goals per game while also breaking the program record for career shutouts (32). She currently ranks third on the career wins list with 41.

Sloan tied for a team-high seven goals, including four game-winners. Sloan’s nine career game-winning goals tied her for third on the all-time list, while her 15 total goals stand tied for 10th. She is the only player in program history to earn repeat All-Big East First Team honors.

“I know it’s cliché to say, but those honors could have gone to anyone on our team,” senior forward Ashley Bares said. “Natalie and Rachael were fantastic, but our team collectively played outstanding all year.”

While those two accolades alone would make for an impressive season, the Golden Eagles didn’t stop there.

Junior defender Kerry McBride earned Big East Defensive Player of the Year honors while anchoring Marquette’s back line. McBride helped limit the opposition to just 3.6 shots on goal per game, including just 3.5 shots on goal in Big East play.

McBride was also named to the All-Big East First Team and was named Big East Defensive Player of the Week on Oct. 25.

Bares earned All-Big East First Team honors for her contribution to Marquette’s attack that ranked second in conference games in points (80), goals (26) and goals per game (2.26).

Senior defender Lauren Thut led the team with an astounding 13 assists, while taking many of the team’s free kicks.

Senior midfielder Rosie Malone-Povolny was named to the All-Big East Third Team after starting all 23 matches and tallying 11 points on the season.

Malone-Povolny led the team with 53 shots and scored four goals this season.

While the team was helped by many upperclassmen contributors, it was the team’s underclassmen that provided the necessary spark that helped Marquette reach the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament for just the second time.

“We had a great mix of older and younger players and they meshed better than anyone could have imagined,” coach Markus Roeders said.

Freshman forward Maegan Kelly provided a spark off the bench for the Golden Eagles and tied for a team high with seven goals and four assists. Kelly walked away with All-Big East Rookie Team honors and will no doubt be a key to Marquette’s attack for the next three years.

Fellow freshmen Taylor Madigan and Katie Hishmeh, as well as sophomores Rachel Brown and Ally Miller, will ease the pain of losing six seniors due to their heavy minutes played and the experience of this year.

Roeders was tabbed Big East Coach of the Year for the third time in his 15-year career at Marquette.

“Coach of the year is such a great honor,” Roeders said. “More than anything, the credit should always go to our players because they are out there playing. We are just trying to make them better.”

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