Women’s soccer battles St. John’s for 1st in Big East


The only two unbeaten teams in Big East conference play will battle for first place when Marquette travels to St. John’s for Thursday’s prime-time matchup.

The Golden Eagles (6-5-1) came out of the gates with a slow start to the season, but the team turned it on during its most recent homestand, giving the team major momentum to start off Big East play. During the four-game winning streak, Marquette is outscoring its opponents 11-3, showing the team has the ability to score often, while the defense is improving compared to earlier in the year.

“After the kind of start we’ve had, a few games slipped away from us a little bit,” head coach Markus 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.”

Now, Marquette will put its improvements to the test when they travel to Queens, N.Y., to take on the Red Storm.

The game will be a change of pace for both sides, as this is the first conference home match for St. John’s, and it’s the first Big East road match for Marquette. Regardless, Roeders said he believes the team will be ready for the tough road match.

“Playing at St. John’s, we’re both the league leaders so far,” Roeders said. “I’m sure we’re going to face a real tough opponent. We’ve been on the road and I think we’ve battled some good teams already, and we just have to be ready for St. John’s.”

The Red Storm is riding a three-game winning streak, and has the tools to extend it to four games. St. John’s runs the offense through junior Rachel Daly. While the team does not score many goals, with just 14 in 11 games, Daly accounted for five of those, giving her the team lead in goals and points. The next closest is freshman Shea Connors with three goals and seven total points. Daly and Connors will surely test the Golden Eagles’ defense, and should provide a good benchmark to see how the back line can play against the conference’s top talent.

“She’s a special player, you can’t deny that,” Roeders said of Daly. “She has a uniqueness to her game that you’d love to have as a striker. You can never count her out.”

Roeders said even though Daly has great individual talent, St. John’s is more than just one talented player.

“St. John’s is a team,” Roeders said. “You can’t just focus on (Daly). They have a lot of other good players.”

Another interesting matchup is between the two Big East players of the week. Marquette sophomore midfielder Liz Bartels was named Big East offensive player of the week for her five-point weekend, while St. John’s sophomore goalkeeper Diana Poulin earned Big East defensive player of the week for her shutouts against Xavier and Creighton.

Bartels is just one of the Golden Eagles, who will look to end Poulin’s shutout streak, which stands at three games and 293 minutes. Senior midfielder Mary Luba and junior defender Jacie Jermier will be key in getting past Poulin. But, as the team showed against Creighton, Marquette has the ability to net goals against a quality keeper.

“I think we’ve been pretty good at creating chances,” Roeders said. “I expect it to be a real tough match.”

Kickoff between the top teams in the Big East is Thursday at 6 p.m. Marquette will then travel back to Valley Fields for a home match against Xavier Sunday.