Marquette Wire

Set Piece: Women’s soccer kicks off BIG EAST play

Meegan+Johnston+scored+two+goals+against+CSUN+last+weekend.
Meegan Johnston scored two goals against CSUN last weekend.

Meegan Johnston scored two goals against CSUN last weekend.

Photo by Austin Anderson

Photo by Austin Anderson

Meegan Johnston scored two goals against CSUN last weekend.

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Freshman goalkeeper Maddy Henry has been solid in the net throughout a difficult non-conference slate, but she has yet to secure her first career shutout.

“This group right now is still trying to sort out a little defensively,” head coach Markus Roeders said. “We’re trying to get that shutout.”

The freshman has played every minute of the season, posting an impressive .722 save percentage to go along with 39 saves.

Defense was key in Marquette’s last march to the BIG EAST crown in 2013. That side allowed just three goals in 11 league matches including the conference tournament on their way to posting an 11-0 record during that stretch.

Seniors Morgan Proffitt and Erin Holland, along with junior Madison Dunker, are the ones providing cover for Henry. Proffitt was named Defensive MVP of last weekend’s Marquette Invitational.

Dunker has been reliable in her first season as a full time center back, picking up a pair of assists while keeping things tidy in front of Henry.


 

Last fall Marquette entered BIG EAST play with a 3-4-3 record. They kicked off conference play with a massive 5-1 win against Creighton.

This year the Golden Eagles enter conference play at 4-4-2 facing a BIG EAST opener at Creighton. The Bluejays are 5-1-2 and sitting at No. 78 in the RPI.

Roeders didn’t underestimate how important a win would be to start conference play, saying it would be “huge” to pick up three points in Omaha.

Creighton will likely be one of the challengers gunning for Marquette’s number two spot in the BIG EAST ladder.

The middle of the BIG EAST is jam-packed with teams looking for a berth in the conference tournament. Providence, Butler, St. John’s and DePaul are all right there with Creighton in the RPI, with Seton Hall and Xavier on their tails. Villanova is lagging behind the pack.


 

Speaking of Omaha, two Golden Eagles starters will be returning to their hometown this week, freshman goalkeeper Maddy Henry and senior midfielder Liz Bartels. This is Marquette’s second trip to Omaha this season. They started the year off with a 2-1 loss to Nebraska.

Bartels’ only goal of the season came in that loss. She’s still working to find last season’s offensive form after picking up 10 points a year ago.

The former Skutt Catholic star saved the day last Friday when she carried the ball nearly 40 yards to set up the game winner against Cal Poly.

Despite underwhelming numbers this year, one goal and no assists, it’s difficult to diminish her role in the offense. With the frequent absence of star striker Darian Powell, defenses are able to focus their efforts on shrinking Bartels’ involvement in the buildup.


 

The Golden Eagle offense has suddenly come to life. As is tradition under the reign of Markus Roeders, the team is scoring by committee.

Eight players have goals, and four have multiple. Forward Molly Pfeiffer leads the way as the only player with three goals, matching her single-season career high set last year.

Carrie Madden notched her first goal of the season with an 84th minute game-winner last Friday night. The redshirt sophomore is second amongst forwards with 13 shots this season. She has been Marquette’s biggest offensive threat on a number of occasions – specifically when cutting in from the left side to cross or making runs at the far post to finish off headers.

Forwards Ashley Handwork and Hailey VanDerLeest have yet to earn a tally in the goals column, but they are without a doubt important members of the offensive unit. Both players offer pace their fellow attackers cannot.


 

It’s no secret Marquette played a difficult batch of games in the non-conference. The team’s “worst” loss of the season came in 1-0 fashion on the road against RPI No. 60 Kansas. The other losses came at consensus No. 1 Stanford, at undefeated No. 21 Northwestern and at Nebraska, who is receiving top-25 votes.

The Golden Eagles own a win over RPI No. 24 Michigan, the Wolverines only loss of the season. They also picked up a win over RPI No. 119 CSUN, scoring three goals against a squad that had allowed just two goals in their previous nine games.

The only real blemish on the resume is a failure to capitalize on a lesser opponent – crosstown rivals Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Marquette dominated possession and the attack for most of the match but came away with just a draw.

Marquette is one of just three teams in the RPI’s top-50 without a winning record, validating the difficulty of their non-conference run. The other two teams are Santa Clara (3-4-3), who Marquette drew on the road, and Mississippi State (5-5-0).


 

The 2016 BIG EAST is headlined by No. 3/6 Georgetown, who knocked off then-top-three teams Virginia and West Virginia in back-to-back weeks.

The Hoyas boast a deadly attack led by BIG EAST Preseason Offensive Player of the Year Rachel Corboz and her partner in crime Grace Damaska. The Hoyas’ talented tandem has combined for a massive 15 goals this season in just nine games. Corboz has six assists to go with her seven goals.

“Georgetown is definitely the league leader right now,” Roeders said. “You might say maybe we should be chasing Georgetown, which we will. … we’ll worry about that when we get there.”

If Marquette is going to challenge for a BIG EAST crown they’ll have to go through Georgetown.

The Golden Eagles host the Hoyas on October 16th at Valley Fields.

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