Big East play begins tonight for Marquette women’s soccer but, like what all Golden Eagle teams will notice this year, the conference has undergone a few tweaks.
Marquette faces first-year Big East competitor Creighton tonight on the road and travels to play Villanova Sunday. In addition to Creighton, the conference has welcomed Butler and Xavier and has retained all but five of the Big East schools from last year.
It’s been almost 17 years since Creighton and Marquette last met, and Thursday’s match is only the fifth meeting between the schools. The Golden Eagles sport a 7-3 overall record while the Bluejays have won their last seven to move to 7-2.
The Big East will crown one regular season champion instead of two like in years past, barring there are no ties for first place. Coach Markus Roeders, with his Golden Eagles defending regular season champions, believes the new system will provide ample motivation for his players to keep forging ahead.
“We have to understand that no matter how much the league has changed, we are still the league champions from last year,” Roeders said. “We can do well in every game. We just have to have that focus in order for us to not waste energy. The good thing is we’re just getting started and we’re coming out of a good week of play, so let’s take our talents to Creighton.”
Junior midfielder Mady Vicker wants the team to stick to its usual business in scouting and practice, using the mentality that you shouldn’t fix something that isn’t broken.
“It adds a little bit of motivation, but it doesn’t change much with how we’re going to go about taking every game,” Vicker said. “It’s all about taking each game one at a time, winning it, putting it away. The championship will come with each passing step.”
The consensus for league champion is unclear, as both Marquette and No. 10 Georgetown have the talent to walk away with the conference title. The Big East Tournament will be held at the nearly renovated Valley Fields, where the Golden Eagles will hope home field advantage will guide them along.
Part of the excitement of enlisting new schools in a conference is the opportunity to develop a history and perhaps a rivalry. Creighton, Butler and Xavier all present opportunities for the Golden Eagles to establish rapports, but for Vicker, it’s simply about earning the win and doing so in a humble manner.
“I think for us it’s all about expecting the unexpected and treating every game like it’s a big game,” she said. “We don’t want to come in overconfident.”
Marquette has been dangerous as of late, winning its last two games by a combined score of 8-2. Senior midfielder Maegan Kelly, who became the team’s all-time assist leader Monday, thinks the momentum will help as each match grows in importance.
“It’s always good to go into conference (play) with two wins under our belt,” Kelly said. “Going in with confidence is the key to success. We’re traveling this week, which will be kind of tough mentally and on the body. We’ll be gone for quite a few days, so we’ll need to come out one game at a time as we’re traveling so we can get the results we want.”
Fans will have to wait until Oct. 3 for Marquette’s first Big East home match against St. John’s.