Marquette Women’s Soccer: Golden Eagles can clinch tie for second in division

Taylor Madigan plays a ball during the Sunday, Oct. 9, 2011 game. Photo by Elise Krivit/

Home field advantage is critical in any sport. Look at the Milwaukee Brewers who were 57-24 at Miller Park this season, compared to just 39-42 on the road.

The No. 7/13 Marquette women’s soccer team’s next two opponents have similar home/road splits. St. John’s (8-6-1, 4-4-0 Big East), the Golden Eagles’ opponent Friday night, is a dominant 5-1-1 at home, but just 3-5-0 on the road.

Syracuse (6-5-3, 5-3-0 Big East), who Marquette plays Sunday, has somehow managed to play just three home games this year, going 2-1 in those contests. The Orange are 4-3-2 away from home.

“St. John’s is one of those teams who take home field advantage to another extreme with their turf, with how comfortable they are playing in that setting,” coach Markus Roeders said. “Then we make that big swing to Syracuse, so it will be a demanding weekend, but I don’t think we can dwell on it too much.”

The Red Storm come in struggling, having lost three of its last five matches, including a 6-1 drubbing at the hands of Pittsburgh (2-10-4, 1-5-2 Big East), whose lone previous win came Aug. 28 against Delaware.

Marquette (14-2-0, 7-1-0 Big East) will have to be wary of senior forward Jen Leaverton, who leads the team with seven goals, including five game-winning goals.

One thing to watch will be to see whom the Red Storm decide to play in goal. St. John’s shuttled in three goalkeepers in the loss to Pittsburgh, with sophomore Lauren Ferris and senior Lindsey Hall playing a combined 61 minutes and allowing four goals. Junior Meredith Kenyon finished the game in net, allowing two more goals in just 29 minutes.

A win against St. John’s would lock up at least a tie for second place in the American Division of the Big East for Marquette, with the possibility of earning at least a lone second place finish, should Syracuse lose to South Florida (5-6-4, 1-4-3 Big East) Friday night.

Junior defender Ally Miller is confident the team is playing its best soccer, and even though it has two road contests this weekend, the expectation to win is still there.

“If we play the way we have been playing, even though we’re on the road, it’s easy to think we’ll come back with two wins,” Miller said.

The Orange have been trademarked by their stellar defense this season, allowing just 16 goals in 14 games, but gave up five in a 5-1 loss at West Virginia on Sunday. Sophomore goalkeeper Brittany Anghel has started every game and boasts six shutouts, including a 0-0 tie against then-No. 12 Boston College on Sept. 1.

Junior midfielder Tina Romagnuolo leads with four goals for a team that has struggled to put points on the board. In 14 games, Syracuse has scored just 17 goals, compared to the 42 goals Marquette has scored in 16 games this year.

Sophomore midfielder Taylor Madigan believes the team’s key to winning both road games is continuing to play well as a team and not letting fans get into their heads.

“The whole atmosphere (playing on the road) is different than at home, “Madigan said. “Here we have all of our fans, whereas there (on the road) they have mostly their fans, and sometimes they talk trash. But it’s just a different atmosphere and mindset.”