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WSOC Preview: Depth, experience causes for optimism

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Liz+Bartels+has+double-digit+point+totals+in+each+of+her+three+seasons+as+a+Golden+Eagle.
Liz Bartels has double-digit point totals in each of her three seasons as a Golden Eagle.

Liz Bartels has double-digit point totals in each of her three seasons as a Golden Eagle.

Photo by Graphic by Brian Georgeson

Photo by Graphic by Brian Georgeson

Liz Bartels has double-digit point totals in each of her three seasons as a Golden Eagle.

Coach: Markus Roeders (21st season)

2015 Record: 8-8-4 (5th in BIG EAST)

Key Departures: GK Amanda Engel, M/D Jacie Jermier, M Ann Marie Lynch

Players to watch: D/M Morgan Proffitt, M/F Liz Bartels, F Darian Powell, D Erin Holland

Overview: This squad returns eight regular starters from a team that finished fifth in the BIG EAST a year ago. The Golden Eagles are deep at every position and they have high-end talent on both ends of the field. Senior center backs Morgan Proffitt and Erin Holland form perhaps the best center back tandem in the conference. Forward Darian Powell led the team with seven goals last season and her partner in crime Liz Bartels is back after notching a 10 point season.

Marquette will be in the mix for a BIG EAST title and a spot in the NCAA tournament. Roeders says the ultimate goal is to return to where this group of seniors started in 2013: “Win the conference tournament. Win the regular season. Go to the NCAA tournament.”

The Golden Eagles came in third in the BIG EAST Preseason Coaches’ Poll behind unanimous No. 1 Georgetown and 2015 regular season runners-up DePaul. Morgan Proffitt was named Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. Proffitt was also named to the preseason All-BIG EAST Team, along with teammate Liz Bartels.

Forwards: The forward group is deep, but Darian Powell stands out as the most talented and proven member. An All-BIG EAST second-team member, she’s been consistent by scoring seven goals the past two years.

Ashley Handwork scored three goals last season and figures to see plenty of action. Molly Pfeiffer got out to a hot start last season, but health has been an issue for her in the past. Jamie Kutey made a nice impact as a freshman, earning five starts and more than 800 minutes of play.

Roeders says to keep an eye on redshirt freshman Hailey VanDerLeest, who made an impact during the spring season. The depth up front will allow Roeders to keep other teams on their toes.

“We have a nice group of players that people are going to be a little surprised about,” Roeders said.

Abby Hess and Erin Johnston are the only freshman forwards on the roster.

Midfield: The Golden Eagle midfield is crowded, but competitive. Liz Bartels and Caroline Fink figure to start, no matter the formation. Ryley Bugay, Eli Beard and Heather Handwork will compete for the other starting roles.

Senior Meegan Johnston was limited last season, but she offers the Golden Eagles a different look going at goal. Johnston will earn minutes in the midfield and can fill in up front if need be.

Leah Celarek and Ali Jacobson are in the mix both in midfield and out wide on defense. Roeders mentioned Carrie Madden as a player who has improved. The midfield, like every outfield position on the roster, is crowded, but there are minutes up for grabs.

Defense: The defense is the heart of the team despite losing All-BIG EAST first-team full back Jacie Jermier. That starts with Morgan Proffitt, who played with the U-23 USWNT in the Nordic Cup in May and was named to the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List. Roeders called Proffitt “one of the best players in the country.”

Also returning is Erin Holland, who has been a rock at centerback, and fullbacks Cali Pyzdrowski, Madison Dunker and Kirsten Timmer. Dunker is a strong center back as well, which would allow Marquette to play with Proffitt in defensive midfield, where she played during her sophomore year and with the US U-23 National Team this summer.

Dunker’s versatility could also allow Marquette to play with a three back system, which Roeders has a history of doing. He believes his team’s defense is crucial.

“With the type of schedule we have, we’re going to have to win some games 1-0 or 2-1,” Roeders said. “Our defense needs to be really good.”

Expect this defense to protect their young goalkeepers from quality shots, no matter what the formation is.

Goalkeeper: The loss of Amanda Engel may hit harder than any other, despite the talents of Jacie Jermier and Ann Marie Lynch.

Sloane Carlson appeared in three games last season, starting in two. She notched five saves and allowed five goals in 155 minutes as a freshman. It wasn’t an ideal season for Carlson, but she earned valuable experience from her brief stints in net that included a start in the Milwaukee Cup against a solid UWM squad.

Her competition for the job is incoming freshman Maddy Henry from Omaha, Nebraska. Roeders says that Carlson proved herself to an extent last year, but complimented Henry’s skills.

“Maddy is probably a little bit more polished, experienced from what she’s done in youth soccer,” Roeders said.

He was clear that both keepers will have a chance to showcase their talents and the competition is wide open. This is the top position battle to keep an eye on.

Schedule: Aug. 19 at Nebraska, Aug. 21 at Kansas, Aug. 25 at Illinois State, Aug. 28 vs. Michigan, Sept. 1 at Santa Clara, Sept. 4 at Stanford, Sept. 9 vs. Milwaukee, Sept. 11 at Northwestern, Sept. 16 vs. Cal Poly, Sept. 18 vs. Cal State Northridge, Sept. 25 at Creighton, Sept. 29 vs. Seton Hall, Oct. 2 vs. St. John’s, Oct. 6 at Xavier, Oct 9 at Providence, Oct. 16 vs. Georgetown, Oct 20 at Villanova, Oct. 23 vs. Butler, Oct. 28 vs. DePaul (Senior Night), Nov. 1-6 BIG EAST Tournament

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