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Greska: Women’s soccer is “en fuego”

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Andrei Greska

Have you ever seen a performance so breathtaking you felt privileged to witness it? The happiness that lingered had nothing to do with the result or the score but rather with simply having had an opportunity to see beauty in its most basic form.

That’s the Spanish national soccer team (the 2010 World Cup champions) at the moment: pure bliss. The sharp passes, the quick movements and most importantly, the blatant lack of selfishness — it doesn’t matter who scores because in the end, everyone savors in victory.

That’s the Marquette women’s soccer team. Good doesn’t begin to describe these women. They are 17-2, ranked fifth in the country and have outscored opponents by 38 goals.

Most importantly, they have won back to back-to-back Big East American Division championships. The Golden Eagles have perfected the art of winning games.

They may go down as one of the best in Marquette’s history, not just in the women’s soccer category, but ever. Legendary men’s basketball coach Al McGuire may have to make some room in the hallowed halls of Marquette lore.

Yet, it’s still too early to write that column. There is plenty of work to be done and games to be won for that to happen. This column is meant to honor defender Kerry McBride, forward Lindsey Page and goalkeeper Natalie Kulla, the team’s three seniors who have been a part of these glorious championship runs from day one.

McBride is the most dominant defender I have ever seen in the collegiate game, man or woman. She is taller, stronger and faster than all players she faces. She has a tremendous soccer IQ and is cool, calm and collected under pressure.

Carrying on the Spain theme, McBride would play the role of Pique, a tall, strong defenseman who can outmuscle any attacker, yet has the ball control and speed to orchestrate attacks from the back.

McBride was a Soccer America pre-season All-American as well as the Big East’s Preseason Defensive Player of the Year and has lived up to her billing, being named Big East Defender of the Week and to the Big East Honor Roll twice apiece. A strong defense may be the sum of its parts, but this part is pretty darn good.

Next we have Page. The Alsip, Ill., native took a few years to bloom, but has burst onto the scene in her senior year, providing key goals and assists from the first week of play, scoring a game-winning goal in overtime against Northwestern on Aug. 21.

After scoring four goals in three years, Page busted out this season, scoring six times and amassing a career-high 16 points, good for second best on the team.

She plays the role Pedro does for Spain, coming on as a super sub with a burst of energy whenever added firepower is needed. She may not have the eye popping goal totals of a David Villa — played by sophomore forward Maegan Kelly — but her tenacity is an asset no team can do without.

Last but not least, we have the brick wall better known as Kulla. She will go down not only as the best keeper in Marquette history but as one of the best in the history of college soccer.

Her 42 shutouts place her second all-time in NCAA history, two behind Rutgers’ Erin Guthrie, the current record holder. She has also amassed a program best 57 wins in her four year career.

She is Iker Casillas in game and metaphor. She has tremendous athleticism, getting her hands on balls that seemed impossible; great reflexes, managing to make point blank saves with regularity; and a commanding presence, organizing the backline at all times.

These three seniors have helped bring the program to new heights in the standings and in the rankings. They are not done yet, though. The ultimate send-off of reaching the College Cup Final Four is still in play.

Can they really live up to their Spanish counterparts and reach the top of the mountain? Si se puede.

No matter what happens, though, it has been an honor to watch them play.

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