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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Bueckers looking for an answer in her second chance

Photo by Isabel Bonebrake
Elizabeth Bueckers (18) making a touch on the ball in Marquette women’s soccer’s 5-0 win over the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Sept. 4.

After four seasons at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), Elizabeth Bueckers knew she wanted to test herself in her fifth and final season.

“I always kind of believed I was not meant to go to a higher level Division I (school) because coming out of high school I had trouble getting recruited by bigger schools,” Bueckers said. “Going in my freshman year, I was obviously proved wrong and was extremely successful right off the bat.”

The feeling proved right: Bueckers was a two-time All-Horizon League first-time selection, a United Soccer Coaches Third Team All-North Region honoree and led the IUPUI in goals, points, shots and shots on goal last season.

After every season Bueckers thought to herself, “Is this really the right fit for soccer for me?” But she would always stay. There still remained a thought in the back of her mind; “could I be successful at a bigger program?” She didn’t need to fight for a starting position as she started 56 of 62 games. She didn’t need to fight for minutes. Nor did her stats prove that she had to try to succeed in the Horizon League.

So she entered the transfer portal in hopes of finding out that answer before hanging up her cleats and retiring.

Bueckers said she was attracted to Marquette for a different reason outside of returning to her hometown, one that ended up having the upper hand in her decision.

This reason was Bueckers knew several of the current and former Marquette players from playing for the Milwaukee Torrent the last two summers.

Marquette women’s soccer head coach Frank Pelaez liked what he saw on film of Buecker’s game and gathered from coaches in the Horizon League. But before he made contact with her, the third-year head coach wanted to still learn more about her.

So he called in her Torrent and future Golden Eagles teammates into his office.

“I interviewed them asking what kind of person is she and would she fit in,” Pelaez said. “They all just gave her flying colors. They played with her, they loved her personality and she’s a team player. That’s kind of what you want.”

Then she took her official visit to Marquette, seeing the campus and athletic facilities. By the end of it, she got a gut feeling.

“It was kind of like a no brainer,” Bueckers said. “I was like I don’t think I belong anywhere else in the situation that I was currently in.”

Bueckers brings experience and depth to the midfield unit, something Pelaez said he was looking for heading into the season. She also brings a veteran voice and presence to the Golden Eagles.

“She brings a calming presence,” senior goalkeeper Mikki Easter said. “She knows what she’s doing, she’s going to get the job done and then she can also just be the kind of like a shoulder to lean on.”

Easter, one of the Golden Eagles who played with Bueckers on the Torrent, said the Milwaukee native’s personality made it an easy transition to the Golden Eagles in her eyes.

“I love Liz as a person and her personality fits in so well with our team,” Easter said. “She’s just so friendly, so smiley and always makes people laugh so she just blended right well.”

Besides challenging herself in wanting to face tougher competition, Bueckers is being challenged more than ever.

“I’ve never been a central midfielder in my life,” Bueckers said. “I’m naturally a flank outside midfielder/forward so that’s a challenge in itself but it’s exactly the challenge I was looking for.”

The change in position comes from Pelaez wanting to utilize the versatility across his roster throughout games. She said she has gotten it down more defensively than offensively, which continues to be a work in progress.

“It’s challenging me to find that level of creativity or movement off the ball in order to be successful,” Bueckers said. “Doing the same things I did back into Horizon League just aren’t good enough. The speed of play is just more challenging, more up to pace and just keeping up with everybody on the field. It’s exactly what I was looking for.”

Pelaez said he has noticed an improvement in Bueckers’ game, most notably her relationships on the field.

“I told her, ‘You’re here for a short time, how quick you can know the players as much as you can off the field so that when you do communicate on the field, there’s a relationship there,'” Pelaez said. “(Then) when it comes to the play itself, she’s so adaptable to whatever we’re asking and just her high work rate that makes her different.”

Bueckers said she has leaned on teammates such as senior midfielders Hailey Block and Isabella Cook in helping communicate better on the pitch. Both Block and Cook are also learning new roles this season.

“I honestly go on and am like ‘Hey guys, I’m going to try my best but tell me where to go. I feel lost,'” Bueckers said. “People have been really helpful in that aspect whereas true center midfielders know where I’m supposed to be and they’ve been communicating that to me and where I’m supposed to be. That’s been really helpful.”

Bueckers will continue to face challenges with tough competition set to come in the next month when Big East play begins. But she is up for the challenge and looking to take advantage of her second chance to play collegiate soccer. And she wants to keep winning.

“I came in with no expectations, no mindset of I am just a rental per se,” Bueckers said. “I am going to do everything to help the team. I want to win, I want a winning season and obviously want to go to the tournament and win the Big East.”

This story was written by John Leuzzi. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @JohnLeuzziMU.

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