Women’s soccer opens Big East at home versus Creighton

Photo by Valeria Cardenas/valeria.cardenas@marquette.edu
Photo by Valeria Cardenas/valeria.cardenas@marquette.edu

The Marquette women’s soccer team looks to have its first winning streak of the season when it hosts Creighton Thursday night for the Big East season opener and the second half of a four-game home stand.

The Golden Eagles (4-5-1) went 2-0 last weekend in their first back-to-back victories, defeating then-No. 16 Kansas in a 1-0 shutout and following with a 2-1 win against Louisiana State. The weekend gave Marquette a statement win, while also giving the team momentum heading into Big East play.

Coach Markus Roeders said the weekend was big for getting the team ready for Big East play.

“Overall, it was a great weekend,” Roeders said. “Huge in regards to what we experienced in the last two games … I think it really set the tone going forward now.”

Marquette’s first opponent is a doozy, as the Golden Eagles welcome the Creighton Bluejays for their first conference home game. The Bluejays are trying to build another winning streak, as their seven-game winning streak was snapped by a 2-0 loss to the Missouri-Kansas City Kangaroos Sept. 19. Creighton started to rebuild a second winning streak with a 2-1 2OT victory against Nebraska-Omaha.

Much like Kansas, the Bluejays have a prolific offense. Creighton’s biggest margin of victory came in a 6-0 smacking of New Mexico State Sept. 5. Leading the team in points is junior Alyssa Jara, who notched 12 in just nine games and is tied for sixth in the Big East. Trailing her are sophomore Lauren Sullivan and junior Kirstyn Corder with 11 points, tied for eighth in the Big East. As a team, Creighton leads the Big East in scoring, averaging three goals per game.

For the Golden Eagles, the key will be to continue to play solid defense, which was a plus for the team during the past two games. Against Kansas, the backline was able to withstand severe pressure from the Jayhawks, and were able to hold them off the scoreboard. Had the team not had a mental lapse against LSU, the Golden Eagles could have easily had two shutouts. Against the explosive Bluejay offense, the defense will be tested again.

Roeders said the team faced tough opposition defensively before.

“The way we’ve been defending has been really good,” Roeders said. “We’ve played a lot of good players and we have a lot of good players.”

Offensively, the Golden Eagles are getting better and look to be healthier. Sophomore Darian Powell started Friday night’s game and played more significant minutes against LSU after an injury to freshman Ashley Handwork. Should Handwork be able to go against the Bluejays, she could provide extra security on the scoring front. Freshman Eli Beard is showing that she can score from way outside the box, and leading scorer and junior defender Jacie Jermier will continue to be the free kick specialist for the Golden Eagles. While Marquette did not score many goals in non-conference play, the offense is starting to heat up right as Big East play starts.

Roeders said while having many goal-scorers is nice, the team needs to get more out of its scoring chances.

“I think our goal scoring could still be a little more efficient,” Roeders said. “We’re kind of doing it by committee right now … I think anybody can probably score, it’s just a matter of putting the ball in the net.”

The Golden Eagles will have a tough time beating Bluejay keeper Danielle Rice, as she has Creighton near the top of defensive stats in the Big East. Creighton averages one goal against per game and ranks second in saves made in the Big East. While the Golden Eagles should not have major difficulty getting shots on net, the problem will be beating Rice as the Bluejays’ last line of defense.

Marquette had its best weekend of the season last weekend. Welcoming Creighton will be a tough start to the Big East season, but will set the tone for the rest of conference play.

“Our goal always has to be the same,” Roeders said. “We want to compete for the Big East championship during the regular season, and then when you get to the conference tournament time, you want to put yourself in the best position to be able to win it … this team now has the opportunity to do it.”