Ending non-conference schedules with back-to-back rivalry matches does not occur often, but for Marquette, it’s an opportunity to enter Big East action with momentum.
Marquette will battle former Big East Conference member Louisville at Valley Fields Saturday and make the short trip Monday to face rival UW-Milwaukee, the team’s final non-conference match. Louisville was a Big East participant with the Golden Eagles from 2005 until this summer when the conference separated. The Cardinals are now members of the American Athletic Conference. Milwaukee and Marquette have been traditional city rivals, alternating host venues for years.
Given the knowledge that Louisville and Milwaukee have against Marquette and vice versa, coach Markus Roeders believes these matches will be hard-fought.
“We know what those teams are all about,” Roeders said. “They know us. I think, currently, both teams are going to pose a threat to our game just because if we don’t show up or follow the game plan and stick to what we need to be doing, we could expose ourselves.”
Marquette defeated both the Cardinals and Panthers last season at Valley Fields. Over the last four years, the Golden Eagles have gone 4-0 against Louisville and 3-0-1 against Milwaukee.
“It’s something to look forward to,” senior defender Emily Jacobson said. “I think any game on our schedule we look forward to, but you know on the schedule when we’re going to play Milwaukee. It’s great to play a rivalry game. You’re always going to get extra excited for it.”
Louisville has won its last three matches to improve to 4-2-1, while the Panthers have been less than stellar, struggling to a 1-6-1 start.
With a 3-0 home record, Marquette should have the upper hand against Louisville, and despite the Golden Eagles’ 1-2 away record, they will be favored over a faltering Milwaukee squad. Roeders knows, however, that each win must be earned.
“The game is scheduled for 90 minutes, and we have to be focused for 90 minutes,” Roeders said. “If it’s even more than that, then we have to be on. We have to keep focusing on those little minor details that really allows us to deny other teams to get a chance to score.”
The Golden Eagles fell out of the national poll this week after succumbing to Illinois State on Sunday 3-2. The Redbirds jumped out to a 3-0 edge by the 28th minute and managed to hold the lead despite a Marquette rally. Senior defender Katie Hishmeh’s responsibility will be to avoid having that occur again.
“I think we just need to come out and put in the first tackle or win the 50-50 balls,” Hishmeh said. “I think we were a little bit slow to the ball from the start of the game and so we need to have a higher intensity level.”
It will be the first taste of rivalry for the freshmen class which has surprise contributors thus far. Freshmen Morgan Proffitt and Ashley Handwork have each scored their first collegiate goals, leading a first-year class that will keep adjusting as the year progresses.
“We have a really good mix on the field,” Hishmeh said. “We have a lot of upperclassmen on the field with them, and underclassmen who can provide us with solid minutes. I think we have a great team chemistry right now and a great mix. It’s kind of helped build respect on both ends. We need the underclassmen as much as they need us.”
Marquette and Louisville square off at Valley Fields Saturday at 6 p.m. The match at Milwaukee is slated for 7 p.m. Monday.