Marquette Women’s Soccer: Iowa, UWM highlight weekend for MU

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Sophomore midfielder Cara Jacobson is looking forward to playing in Milwaukee this weekend for the first time this spring. Tribune File Photo.

The Marquette Golden Eagles finally return to the comfort of Valley Fields for their lone home match of the spring season against Iowa on Saturday morning before traveling across town to take on rival Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

The Hawkeyes finished last season 13-4-3 overall and saw their season end abruptly in the Big 10 Tournament, losing in penalty kicks to Michigan State. Iowa started the season 9-0-2 and allowed just 17 goals in 20 matches.

“Iowa is a team that prides itself on defense and tries to slow the game down a bit,” coach Markus Roeders said. “They’re a very good team, and even though they lost a few more players than we did, we’re expecting a battle.”

Like Marquette with Natalie Kulla, Iowa has to replace its starting goalkeeper from last season, senior Emily Moran.

Moran started every match since her sophomore season and left as the program’s all-time leader in wins (35) and individual season victories (13). She ranks second in program history in career saves (350), numbers similar to Kulla’s.

The Hawkeyes will likely look to freshmen Caitlin Schnorbach and Kiley Beck on Saturday to continue their development in net.

The match against Iowa will be Marquette’s first since a 2-0 win over Northwestern on March 31, but sophomore midfielder Cara Jacobson isn’t worried about any rustiness and is excited to get back on the pitch.

“They’re (Iowa) definitely a talented team, so it should be a really competitive game,” Jacobson. “It’s nice to get to play a team we don’t see very often.”

Wisconsin-Milwaukee enjoyed one of its best seasons in team history last year, advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament after a win over Illinois State before falling to Ohio State.

The Panthers won a school-record 19 games and rose to as high as No. 9 in the Soccer America National Poll.

Senior forward Sarah Hagen was named a finalist for the M.A.C. Hermann Trophy and was named to Soccer America’s MVP First Team and the NSCAA’s All-American Second Team.

Hagen signed a contract with Bayern Munich in December and was drafted by the Philadelphia Independence of the Women’s Professional Soccer league in January.

Hagen led the nation in goals per game (1.24), points per game (2.90) and game-winning goals last season. Her 93 career goals ranked her No. 9 all-time and 212 total points are good for No. 17 all-time.

“Sarah (Hagen) may have meant more to Milwaukee than what Natalie (Kulla) and Kerry (McBride) meant to Marquette,” Roeders said. “I think the game over there was so much geared towards her, whereas our seniors were able to shine based on what we do as a team.”

Roeders said the Panthers will be an unknown factor even though Marquette plays them every year and practices against them in the spring.

Part of that may be due to a new coach roaming the sidelines at Milwaukee. Michael Moynihan left the Panthers for Northwestern in December and is being replaced by Greg Henschel, the former coach at Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Henschel ran both the men’s and women’s programs at Whitewater since 1999 and led both teams to the NCAA Tournament last season.

Junior defender Megan Jaskowiak isn’t worried about what’s going on with the Panthers’ coaching staff and is just happy to be playing a city rival.

“I’m sure the coach (Henschel) is well aware of what this match means, and they’re going to come out ready to play,” Jaskowiak said. “We just need to come out harder.”