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Women’s soccer season ends with some goals met

Photo by Austin Anderson

Photo by Austin Anderson

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Head coach Markus Roeders and his experienced Marquette roster had big goals for the 2016 season after a disappointing eight-win season in 2015: a BIG EAST regular season title, a BIG EAST Tournament title and a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

After a tough non-conference slate, the Golden Eagles had a 4-4-2 record and plenty of work to do. They opened conference play by letting a two goal lead slip in a road loss to Creighton. The loss prompted a lineup change, which powered a 7-1 run over the final eight conference games.

The last match in that run was a de-facto BIG EAST regular season championship game against a red-hot DePaul side that had already clinched a share of the crown. Two goals in regulation from Morgan Proffitt sent the game into extra time, where Eli Beard’s only goal of the season gave Marquette the win and title of co-BIG EAST champions.

Carrie Madden’s miraculous bicycle kick winner in overtime of Marquette’s BIG EAST semifinal match against St. John’s gave Marquette a shot at Georgetown in the tournament championship, but the Hoyas earned another 2-0 win over the Golden Eagles.

The next day, Marquette earned a place in the NCAA Tournament against in-state rival Wisconsin. Surprisingly, the RPI No. 36 Badgers would play host to the RPI No. 25 Golden Eagles, who were 7-1-1 at home.

TopDrawerSoccer’s preseason No. 1 player in the country Rose Lavelle scored the only goal in the first round NCAA Tournament game in Madison, ending Marquette’s season.

The loss was disappointing for a senior-heavy squad.

“Lots of tears today,” fifth-year senior Darian Powell said after the loss. “I mean, it’s some people’s last game ever, it’s a hard thing. But I think we’re all really proud of what we did this season and I’m going to miss them. They’re some of my best friends.”

There were five seniors who started regularly and three more who made on-field contributions throughout the season.

Morgan Proffitt will depart Marquette as one of the most accomplished players in program history and she’ll leave a massive hole in the defensive midfield. Liz Bartels has been a major offensive contributor for the past four years and her ability to break down defense with the ball at her feet is irreplaceable. Cali Pyzdrowski provided a calm, reliable defensive presence at right back. Erin Holland has been a fixture at center back for the last three seasons. Molly Pfeiffer has been one of the most dangerous attackers on the team the past two years, scoring 21 points in that time.

Meegan Johnston was one of the first attacking options off the bench and Ashley Handwork has provided pace for the attack since her freshman season. Alyssa Devine played more than 200 minutes this season at midfield.

Despite the massive losses this team will suffer due to graduation, there are reasons to be optimistic about the future.

Redshirt sophomore Carrie Madden had a breakout year after playing just one game in 2015. She lead the team by scoring six goals and five assists. Four of her goals were game-winners.

A pair of All-BIG EAST Freshman Team players in goalie Maddy Henry and defender Emily Hess proved to be reliable players. Henry played every single minute of the season, posting four shutouts and 87 saves. Hess earned her first start in the team’s third game of the season and quickly became the team’s top left back. She provides aggressive defensive cover and an option going forward. It was Hess who assisted Beard’s overtime win against DePaul.

Ryley Bugay demonstrated her abilities as a holding midfielder after earning a starting job midway through the season. Marquette was 8-3 with Bugay in the starting lineup, and two of those losses came against a top-10 Georgetown team. Marquette allowed 10 goals in this stretch. All four of Marquette’s shutouts came with Bugay in the lineup.

Finally, the Golden Eagles still have a big group of players who made contributions this season or in past seasons who will be available next year in addition to Madden, Henry, Hess and Bugay.

Marquette’s active all-time goals leader, Darian Powell, will return for a sixth season. Leading the way on defense will be senior Madison Dunker who was not only a reliable defensive player, but also the team’s long distance free kick taker.

Caroline Fink, Eli Beard, Leah Celarek and Hailey VanDerLeest all played big roles in 2016 and will be back next year.

Kirsten Timmer, Jamie Kutey and Allison Jacobson will play larger roles next year as well.

The Golden Eagles have made 13 NCAA Tournament appearances and it has always been in runs. They made appearances from 1999-2002, 2005-’06, ’08-’13 and then again this year.

Overall, this was a successful season for Marquette, which accomplished two of its three major goals.

“I couldn’t be prouder of them because of the way that we got back to where want to be,” Roeders said. “The standards that we have and we’ve set and them getting back to a championship level has been tremendous. Our seniors have done their part and they’ve led the way. I’m really thankful for them, all of them, because everybody has played their part.”

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