Women’s soccer hitting stride at the right time

Photo by Valeria Cardenas/valeria.cardenas@marquette.edu
Photo by Valeria Cardenas/[email protected]

The Marquette women’s soccer team extended its winning streak to four games with victories against Creighton 7-2 and Villanova 1-0 in a perfect home stand to get the team back above .500 before its first Big East road game.

Coach Markus Roeders said the winning streak had a big impact on his team’s season.

“After the kind of start we’ve had, a few games slipped away from us a little bit,” Roeders said. “Being 4-0 at home over the past two weekends and 2-0 in the Big East to start off that part of the season, we couldn’t be in a better position.”

Sophomore Liz Bartels capped off the big weekend for the Golden Eagles when she netted the only goal of the shutout victory against the Wildcats. Bartels caught a pass from freshman midfielder Eli Beard, worked the ball into the box on a great individual effort, and then went bardown on the ‘Nova keeper. The goal was a big enough cushion, as the team shut down the Wildcat attack.

Bartels’ goal highlighted a homestand where the Golden Eagles struck first in every game, including a first-half goal in three of the four games. Junior defender Jacie Jermier booted home a free kick in the seventh minute against Kansas, sophomore midfielder Meegan Johnston started a four-goal first half when she deflected a corner in the fourth minute against Creighton and Bartels’ goal in the 19th minute against Villanova.

Bartels said it is vital for the team to get the first goal.

“It’s really important to get up first because it shows that we’re the ones attacking them,” Bartels said. “We’re not going to wait for the other team to come onto us.”

Roeders said he wanted a more efficient offense entering Big East play, and he got everything he could ask for in the two victories to kick off the conference schedule. The Golden Eagles scored a combined eight goals during the weekend, seven of which came in the demolition of Creighton in the Big East opener.

In the match against the Bluejays, seven different Marquette players registered points . Senior midfielder Mary Luba led the way with six points, while Bartels notched four against Creighton and scored two more against Villanova to tie Luba for the points lead over the weekend.

Coming into the weekend, Jermier led the team with seven points. Now, Bartels leads the team with 10 and Jermier and Luba trail her with nine. While the Golden Eagles continue to have a score-by-committee offense, that committee is finding the net much more than it did earlier in the season.

Roeders said the scoring efficiency was really nice to see.

“I thought there was a lot of balance with the goal scorers and some terrific shots and finishes,” Roeders said. “For us, most important is to have won another game …  and take another step forward.”

Luba said getting scoring from everyone is a great way for the team to have success.

“It’s always nice to see everyone contribute and everyone on the same page at the same time,” Luba said. “We can score, we’re capable of scoring more than seven goals.”

Much like the offense, the defense has come into its own during the homestand. In nonconference play, the Golden Eagles allowed 15 goals in nine games, a 1.67 goals against average. Before the current homestand, the goals against average was 2.00 goals per game. But the Golden Eagles halved that number in their recent homestand, and brought the average down to 1.55, including a 1.00 goals against average early in Big East play.

Roeders said the defense is fueled by the offense, so the offense’s success means defensive success as well.

“Overall, our defending has to be solid,” Roeders said. “Everybody has to put in their part, because if it breaks down up front, we can’t just ask our midfield and defense to pick up the slack. Our back four and goalkeeping, overall, I think is more sound. We’re allowing fewer chances.”

With the improved play of both the offense and defense, the Golden Eagles are back at .500 for the first time since its victory against Loyola-Chicago in the season opener. With such a dominant start in Big East play, it seems that the team is playing its best soccer of the season thus far. However, the team will have to put their best foot forward when it takes on St. John’s, who is tied with Marquette atop the Big East standings.

The match against St. John’s will kickoff in Queens, N.Y., at 6 p.m. Thursday. The Golden Eagles will then travel back home Sunday to take on Xavier at Valley Fields.

Roeders said St. John’s will be a good benchmark game for the team.

“We’re coming together,” Roeders said. “We have to go on the road. St. John’s is going to be a tough opponent before we come back home.”