Another day, another clean sheet for Sofie Schunk and the Marquette defense. If it seems like things have become a bit mundane on the backline, it’s because they have.
Through four games, the Golden Eagles (3-0-1) have yet to surrender a goal after blanking the Central Michigan Chippewas and Northwestern Wildcats last weekend.
On Monday, though, Marquette drew with the Chippewas 0-0 after not allowing a single shot on goal while registering 11 of its own on net.
“Defensively, as a unit, we are probably as good as we can ask them to be right now,” head coach Markus Roeders said. “There’s disappointment we didn’t get a result today, but I can’t fault them.”
It’s not that the offense has been struggling either, despite failing to convert on several good looks Monday.
Marquette tallied two goals in a shutout win at Northwestern on Friday and has scored 10 times in four contests this year.
“You always want to score and it’s frustrating when that doesn’t happen, but we’ll learn from that,” said senior defender Ally Miller.
Schunk said she wasn’t worried about getting bored in net despite not having to make any saves Monday.
“I’m feeling really confident right now,” Schunk said. “My team makes it easy for me.”
Despite the losses of Natalie Kulla and Kerry McBride, the defense hasn’t missed a beat so far this year. Two tough challenges await the Golden Eagles this weekend when they travel to Durham, N.C., to face North Carolina and Duke.
“We made some mistakes against Florida State so each game we’re learning more and learn what they do well and prevent what they can do,” Miller said.
Miller was picked by the Big East as the preseason Defensive Player of the Year, an honor McBride won the past two seasons.
She was on her game again Monday, making sure passes and directing a backline featuring Schunk and junior defender Emily Jacobson as newcomers.
“I think our backs are some of the best in the country, so we’re going to pride ourselves on being the best and getting a shutout every time,” Miller said.
Central Michigan was fresh off a 4-2 win at Dayton, a perennial powerhouse in the Atlantic 10, and also had a 2-0 win over West Virginia earlier in the season.
Roeders said the Chippewas did a few things differently on offense that Marquette was used to seeing, so it was important to make sure the backline was on its toes and ready for counterattacks.
“They (Central Michigan) were a little more direct so you constantly have to be aware as we’re trying to possess and build the ball forward that they might turn a long one trying to get in behind,” Roeders said.
Schunk’s play on potentially dangerous balls in the air has been reminiscent of how strong Kulla was in that aspect and will be key if Marquette is to keep its shutout streak going this weekend.
Schunk gave credit to the defense, however, for taking some of the pressure off her.
“As long as they’re doing their job, which they have been, it makes it easier for me,” Schunk said. “They hold their ground and it helps me out a lot.”
“I hate saying this but hopefully I’ll be busy this weekend and have to make a few saves here and there,” Schunk said. “If I’m not doing much, we’re playing perfect.”