If life is a series of down endings, I'm not quite sure where making an improbable late comeback only to lose in double overtime off your opponent's first shot in 40 minutes falls on the heartbreak scale. Factor in that Marquette was honoring its nine seniors during its final regular season home game and DePaul's golden goal in the 104th minute makes for quite the gut punch.
As is tradition, the nine seniors (Sofie Schunk, Mady Vicker, Shalese Miller, Alex Heffron, Haley Fritzlen, Mary Luba, Maggie Edelbeck, Elizabeth Bollinger, and Isabela Carrasco) were all included in the starting lineup. The injured Fritzlen and Bollinger came off right off after kickoff. Surprisingly Schunk did not and played 15 minutes. If the backup keeper had started in lieu of Amanda Engel in goal I would not have batted an eyelash; however, Schunk was instead up top playing forward.
So in a contest against the 12th ranked unbeaten Blue Demons and a game that would have clinched a spot for the Golden Eagles in the Big East Tournament, Marquette did not play with its best offense for a sixth of regulation. Schunk gamely tried, but it's hard to get an effective attack going when players have no prior in game experience working together.
Marquette was also without its best defense: Fritzlen is still out after a rough collision at Georgetown and Erin Holland appears to have joined her on injured reserve since she was spotted crutching about while wearing a full leg brace.
And so the Blue Demons struck first: Alexa Ben reached a ball that appeared headed out the back line and sent it in front of the box where it took a slight detour off Morgan Proffitt's head before finding Abby Reed who poked it to Amber Paul for the finish. Minutes later, DePaul took a 2-0 lead after Jacie Jermier got called for a questionable foul inside the eighteen and Elise Wyatt sent the penalty past a diving Engel.
The east goal was where all the action was at and after the teams flipped sides at halftime it was the Golden Eagles putting the pressure on the opponent. Marquette's grittiness paid off in the 61st minute: the long kick was headed away from the goal by DePaul, but Heather Handwork corralled and then slipped the ball past a defender who timed her kick poorly and Darian Powell took advantage of the gaffe to get the ball past Alejandra Godinez. The offense kept coming but it appeared that time would run out for the Golden Eagles; however, the Blue Demons made another mistake taking down Liz Bartels just outside the box (I thought she was inside, but as I was not the ref this is not relevant). Luba's free kick found the back of the net to tie the game at 2 with just over three minutes remaining.
Neither team was able to score in the rest of regulation or in the first overtime. Marquette out shot DePaul 4-0 in the first OT and then had a shot go wide early in the second. But nonetheless DePaul snuffed out the hope of a happy ending on Senior Night after earning a corner on their next possession. Paul's kick bounced around after landing then was sent forward and as Engel came out to grab it, Ben flicked it over her for the golden goal and the win.
A down ending indeed.
Up next: At Providence on Saturday October 25th at 6:00 pm.