Kylie Sprecher comes back from injuries, gives MU first win, goal of 2019

Junior+forward+Kylie+Sprecher+%28left%29+played+in+49+minutes+of+Marquette%27s+win+over+Michigan+Sept.+1+at+Valley+Fields.

Photo by Jordan Johnson

Junior forward Kylie Sprecher (left) played in 49 minutes of Marquette’s win over Michigan Sept. 1 at Valley Fields.

Shane Hogan

After getting attacked by a mob of joyous teammates Sunday evening, junior midfielder Kylie Sprecher had a moment to catch her breath before 24-year head coach Markus Roeders caught up to the team in the corner of Valley Fields and shook Sprecher’s head enthusiastically.

Her game-winning goal in the 108th minute in sudden death against Michigan gave Marquette its first win of 2019. But if someone told Sprecher in March this would happen, she likely wouldn’t have believed it. 

“That would be nice to hear,” Sprecher said. “But I think I would be like, ‘Wow, that sounds like a big responsibility and a lot of work, and I have a long way to get there.’”

Sprecher was not 100% healthy last season after suffering from sesamoiditis, inflammation of tendons in the foot, in March 2018. She still played in 16 games, but her scoring decreased from three goals and six assists in 2017 to one goal and no assists in 2018.

Sprecher attributed her decreased scoring production to her injury. Sprecher then needed a second surgery after the season in December and missed spring exhibitions as she recovered.

“She worked really hard to get to a point where she could be healthy, but it takes time,” Roeders said. “She stuck with it, and she kept believing.”

“It’s been hard for her. It´s been hard for me. It’s been hard for us,” Roeders said after the game while hugging Sprecher. “There (have) been a lot of ups and downs. … I couldn’t be more proud of the journey she’s already had and then being here tonight having the game-winner.”

She almost had this moment three days earlier in overtime against Wisconsin, the school where her mother played soccer. Her missed shot happened a few minutes before Wisconsin’s game-winning goal in the 93rd minute.

The win against Michigan and Sprecher’s exciting moment didn’t always seem like a sure thing on Sunday, either.

The Wolverines dictated the pace of the game for most of the first half, controlling the ball for 66% of the first half. It led to an 11-4 shot advantage and four shots on goal.

Sprecher attributed the lack of MU’s offensive production to Michigan’s success marking and shifting.

“They’re super dynamic, and they’re super athletic,” Sprecher said. “As a team, we were trying our best just to possess the ball. … Whenever we would get it forward, me or whoever was the top person, would get it and there was already two or three of them on us at once.”

Roeders rotated Sprecher, redshirt junior Abby Hess, sophomore Elaina Eckert and others at the forward position to keep everyone well rested.

“We were told every time we were in there (at forward) to give it all you can do, even if it’s only for five or 10 minutes at a time, and (they’ll) rotate you in and out,” Sprecher said.

Senior goalkeeper Maddy Henry saved each shot, keeping Michigan off the board. It was the first time a nonconference opponent shut out the Wolverines in over a year.

“We’re going to have to keep relying on (Henry),” Roeders said. “And she’s going to keep doing her thing. I think she’s embracing it.”

Marquette had better possession in the second half, but it didn’t lead to quality shots. Sprecher’s golden goal was the team’s second shot on goal of the afternoon.

“There was three minutes left, and I was like, ‘We just got to send the horses forward,’” Sprecher said. “As I was going down, I looked up and I kind of saw the goalie off her line, so I was like, ‘Well, I might as well try it.’”

The Golden Eagles (1-3) will look to continue their momentum against another Big Ten opponent Thursday when they visit Minnesota, who are 0-2-2.

If it’s someone else at Minnesota with the late-game heroics, Sprecher certainly won’t mind. She had her moment.

“I’m happy that it was me this time who finished it for us,” Sprecher said. “Hopefully next time it’s somebody else.”