WSOC goes 2-0 in rivalry matches

IMG_6540The Marquette women’s soccer team was in dire need of a strong weekend after faltering last Sunday to Illinois State and dropping out of the national polls.

Two gritty rivalry victories over Louisville Saturday and Wisconsin-Milwaukee last night placed the Golden Eagles back on track before Big East play begins this week.

Marquette overcame Louisville 3-2 in double overtime on a penalty kick by senior midfielder Maegan Kelly and defeated crosstown foe Milwaukee 5-0.

Kelly had about as perfect of a weekend as one could ask for. The Big East Offensive Player of the Week netted three goals in the two matches and became the program’s all-time assist leader in the win over Milwaukee.

Still, as long as Marquette continues adding to its win column, Kelly would suffice without the personal accomplishments.

“It’s kind of surreal right now,” Kelly said. “I don’t really try to think about it every game. I wouldn’t even be there if it wasn’t for my teammates. If (Mary) Luba didn’t finish that shot, I wouldn’t be here where I am right now. If it wasn’t for my teammates, I wouldn’t have any accolades.”

Redemption didn’t come easily for Marquette in the Louisville match. The Golden Eagles let a 2-0 advantage slip away as the Cardinals scored unanswered goals in the final 11 minutes of regulation. After a scoreless first overtime, Louisville committed a handball inside the box in the 104th minute which set up Kelly’s winning goal.

Louisville and Marquette have an extended history with one another, due to being past members of the old Big East and Conference USA. The knowledge each squad had of the other showed. The Cardinals and Golden Eagles battled to a 0-0 tie to end the first half, and the Marquette frontline was visibly flustered for not finishing open shots.

It may be quite awhile before Louisville and Marquette meet again, as the two are now in separate leagues. Marquette coach Markus Roeders praised the Cardinals for their resiliency.

“They have some fantastic players,” Roeders said. “[Coach] Karen [Ferguson-Daye] always has them coached well, and they deserve a lot of credit to just get back into it. I think you saw a typical Marquette-Louisville game over the years. It’s tightly contested, hard-fought. I’m just obviously very ecstatic because at the end, we prevailed.”

The Milwaukee match, however, would prove to be less of a challenge. Although the Golden Eagles seemed hesitant with ball movement in the opening 20 minutes, Marquette grew more comfortable as the match progressed, beginning with a header from senior Vanessa Legault-Cordisco in the 24th minute.

Goals by Luba, Kelly, Mady Vicker, and Liz Bartels — all in the second half — would transform a seemingly close match into a blowout. Marquette this fall has had a trend of putting goals together en masse, but the players agree it all needs to start with the first score.

“Breaking that barrier is huge, especially in rivalry games like this and Louisville,” Vicker said. “That first goal kind of sets the tone for the rest of the game. It just helps to get us going, and we can build off of that, which is good.”

Marquette moves to 4-0-1 against Milwaukee, spanning the last five years. The team is proud to have city bragging rights, but Roeders realizes at the same time the tides could shift in the Panthers’ favor in the years ahead.

“Right now we’re a little bit at different levels,” Roeders said. “That can come back the other way around if you give it time. We just want to play our style and we want to try to take our game to anybody we play.”

Vicker, a native of nearby Whitefish Bay, said there is a slight personal victory in the Milwaukee win.

“It’s bragging rights,” Vicker said. “I live less than 15 minutes from here, so it means a lot and I know it means a lot to the whole team because we have a lot of local girls and then, obviously everyone wants to defend Marquette and the legacy.”