The Golden Eagles’ backline was recently tested again, but Marquette prevailed with a pair of 1-0 road victories at Seton Hall and DePaul.
Freshman midfielder Liz Bartels scored the game-winner in the 46th minute at Seton Hall for her fourth goal of the season. Junior midfielder Mary Luba netted the lone goal in the 43rd minute of the DePaul match, her seventh this year.
“At the end of the day, we have to be happy with 1-0,” coach Markus Roeders said. “Winning on the road is just difficult, very difficult. I’m happy about (being) 2-0, that was our goal.”
Marquette improves to 7-0-0 in the conference, with two matches remaining. The Golden Eagles can be crowned Big East regular season champions with their next win or a Georgetown loss.
The team’s defense is key to its success. The Golden Eagles have not allowed a goal in their last 401 minutes of play. The last goal they conceded came Oct. 3 against St. John’s. Sophomore goalie Amanda Engel established herself as one of the elite keepers in the nation, leading Marquette to eight shutouts thus far.
“(Protecting the goal) is always something I think about,” Engel said. “It’s one of my main focuses during games, especially against all these Big East teams. It’s not easy.”
The Marquette offense faced a stiff challenge from two defensive-minded programs. Seton Hall entered the match allowing 0.57 goals per game at home and DePaul surrendered only three goals in its previous seven contests.
That didn’t deter the Golden Eagles from playing attacking soccer. Marquette outshot the Pirates and Blue Demons by a combined 38-21 margin. Roeders said the team did not play up to its usual level of efficiency on the offensive end.
“The old cliché that we had to grind it out, without a doubt, would be a perfect fit,” Roeders said.
Marquette scored at opportune moments. Bartels’ quick score out of halftime allowed the team to gain momentum after neither squad could get much started, and Luba’s goal at DePaul to close the first half gave Marquette optimism heading into the break.
A win Sunday at home against Providence would lock in Marquette as the top seed in the Big East Tournament and give it a first-round bye.
“We want to be able to not only win the league but also have an undefeated season,” Engel said. “We basically need to not really focus on it and just kind of go out and play our game and play the way we know we need to play to get the job done.”
A first-round bye won’t be the only thing working in the Golden Eagles favor, as the tournament will be at Valley Fields. The team won’t play another road match until after the Big East Tournament with Marquette’s final two regular season contests at home.
“We’ve done well at home,” Roeders said. “We’re undefeated at home and we have a chance to keep that streak as well. I think all the doors that we’ve had the chance to open, as we exit the season, so far we’ve been able to open them. Hopefully we can keep doing that, just kind of walk through them, see what’s on the other side and enjoy the experience.”