Marquette defeated a feisty St. John’s squad Thursday 3-1 and earned a 3-0 win at Xavier Sunday. The Golden Eagles sport a perfect 4-0-0 conference record heading into their pivotal Georgetown match Sunday.
“I think we did really well this weekend,” senior defender Katie Hishmeh said. “We needed this weekend to kind of make our statement in the Big East and to let people know we’re the team to beat.”
It would have been easy to overlook those two matches and instead shift attention to the Hoyas, but Marquette has been intelligent enough through the years not to fall into such a trap.
It did appear, however, the Golden Eagles were heading down that path against St. John’s. A header in the 49th minute by Red Storm sophomore Rachel Daly, who leads the nation with 14 goals, gave St. John’s the advantage.
Daly’s score would be the only shot on goal Marquette would allow for the evening. For the weekend, Marquette outshot its opponents 40-5.
The Golden Eagles, entering the match 1-3 when their opponents scored first, responded with a goal by senior midfielder Maegan Kelly in the 57th minute.
Freshman midfielder Liz Bartels, the Big East Rookie of the Week, scored in the 72nd minute to put the Golden Eagles ahead. It was Bartels’ third goal in four games.
After a lightning delay interrupted play in the 81st minute for nearly an hour, junior Mary Luba drilled a goal from 30 yards out in the final minute.
Luba scored once more at Xavier, her team-leading sixth goal of the fall. Hishmeh and freshman forward Shalese Miller both found the back of the net for the first time this season, giving Marquette an astounding 14 different scorers this campaign.
“That balance is always crucial as you go through the season,” coach Markus Roeders said. “It’s a team effort and you have to rely on everybody to do their part. It creates a belief that anybody can get on the scoresheet. I think we’ve always had that luxury.”
Roeders was concerned Xavier would enter “desperation mode,” given the team’s winless conference record, but the Golden Eagles exploited Xavier’s unfamiliarity with tournament-caliber teams. The Musketeers are in their first season in the Big East after 18 years in the Atlantic 10.
Marquette closed a six-game stretch that spanned only 16 days. Even though the Golden Eagles emerged victorious in all six matches, the team is prepared for a rest. Marquette will play its next four matches over a 20-day period and it will not play at all this week. Bartels said the Golden Eagles still have a responsibility to practice for Georgetown.
“We all definitely need to catch up on our rest and take this time to keep improving on our game,” Bartels said.
The Golden Eagles have won 10 of their last 11 contests, but a full week off presents the possibility of that momentum fading. Roeders will do his best to ensure that does not happen. The winner of Sunday’s game may be the eventual regular season champion.
“We’re running with them neck and neck right now,” Roeders said. “We know how good they are. I think we all realize that we’re pushing each other. The game might come down to an early, midseason championship-type match.”