After having earned a bye into the semi-final round by finishing first in the regular season with a flawless conference record, the Marquette women's soccer team began their defense of the Big East conference tournament championship against St. John's on Friday night.
The Golden Eagles came out of the gate shooting taking 8 shots inside the first fifteen minutes of the match. Marquette didn't let up: in the 36th minute Mary Luba hit the the crossbar with the ball off a Maegan Kelly corner kick. The ball careened downwards and bounced before Diana Poulin snatched it up. The ref indicated the ball had crossed the goal line and Luba was credited with what would be the winning goal. The Golden Eagles then added some insurance in the 54th: with players from both sides fighting for the ball in front of the Red Storm box, Kelly lofted the ball past Poulin to get the Golden Eagles a second goal.
The Marquette defense, lead by Emily Jacobson who seemed to be playing just a bit in the future and thus finding where a Red Storm attacker was going before they knew where they were headed, was spectacular and allowed only three shots. They neutralized Big East Offensive Player of the Year Rachel Daly who managed a just single shot which Amanda Engel easily scooped up in the final minute for her only save of the match. It was St. John's lone shot on goal: too little, too late. The win sends the Marquette women to their second Big East title game in as many years.
By the time Marquette and St. John's took the field, a repeat of last year's championship was already off the table, as Georgetown fell to DePaul in the first game of the semis. The Hoyas dominated possession and offense taking 26 shots to the Blue Demons' two, but Erin Pekovitch snuck in to get a shot past Emma Newins in the 68th minute to put DePaul up 1-0. From that point, most of the match was played on DePaul's half of the field as the Blue Demons focused on defense. A shot by Audra Ayotte in the 89th minute seemed for a moment like it would send the match to overtime when Alejandria Godinez dropped the ball then fell on it. But in contrast to the call made in the Marquette-St John's match, Georgetown was not awarded a goal as Godinez apparently was on the goal line and punched the ball forward.
Marquette and DePaul met in Chicago back on October 20th: the Golden Eagles left town with a 1-0 victory. The rematch will kick off at 1 pm on Sunday at Valley Fields with the stakes a bit higher with the Big East tournament championship on the line.