We're going to try something new this year. Last year, we just published a Three Questions article as a means of previewing the season outside of the preseason conference awards. This time out, we're going to expand the previews and look at the rosters of the fall sports teams, splitting things into returning players and newcomers. We start with the returning core of the five time reigning and defending Big East regular season champions and two time reigning and defending Big East tournament champions.
Before we start, I should point out that the way that the women's soccer coaching staff defines their players makes doing something like this slightly complicated. There are just nine returning players on the roster who are clearly defined as forward, midfield, or defense. Most players are defined as midfield and either defense or forward. For the purposes of these discussions, we'll just shunt all the split players to either forward or defense. It'll make talking about the midfielders a pretty short conversation, but it's probably better than having very little to talk about in two groups and way too much to talk about in the third.
No one wants to have to go through the rigors of losing Maegan Kelly, the program's all time assists leader, but that's where Marquette finds themselves this season. Luckily, head coach Markus Roeders has a deep group of attackers to fill that role. Mady Vicker (6G, 1A), Liz Bartels (4G, 2A), and Ashley Handwork (4G, 1A) were all major contributors to the scoresheet for all of last season, while Jacie Jermier (3A) and Alex Heffron (2G, 1A) saw significant action in most of Marquette's games. Elizabeth Bollinger, Shalese Miller, and Darian Powell will provide extra depth and experience with the MU system, but only Miller has the on field experience to show for it, as Roeders has been deploying her late in games to provide a burst of energy up top to pressure goalkeepers when Marquette has a lead. Vicker and Kelly were a dynamic duo a year ago, so the eyeballs will be tightly on Vicker this season. Conveniently, she's going to have more than a few options for a running buddy this season.
As you can see from the Forwards group, obviously there's going to be at least three, if not four or five of those women playing at any given time. Luckily, the clearly defined group of midfielders is very small, so there's lots of space for creative formation options. Mary Luba is the only known quantity amongst the returning pure midfielders. Luba, who earned a call up to train with the US Women's Under 23 team this summer, is also Marquette's leading returning scorer from 2013, posting highs of eight goals and five assists. Alyssa Devine saw action in seven contests in her freshman year, while Ann Marie Lynch was a larger part of Marquette's activity, entering all 18 of her games off the bench. Lynch holds the distinction of recording the last goal of the 2013 Marquette season. The Golden Eagles were shut out in the first round of the NCAA tournament, so Lynch's insurance tally in MU's 2-0 win over DePaul in the Big East championship match is the last time the nylon shook as a result of an MU kick.
I'm going to use space right here to mention sophomore Andee Nelson. She appeared in just two games last season and is listed on the 2014 roster as D/F. This is almost as bad as last year when St. John's listed Amy Marron as D/MF/F, but with so little action for Nelson, it's hard to get a feel for where she belongs on the field. Hopefully the Texas native gets a chance to get a well defined role in 2014.
Here's where Roeders has the biggest decisions to make. Emily Jacobson and Katie Hishmeh are gone to graduation now, so it'll be up to Hayley Fritzlen and Morgan Proffitt to hold things down on the back line. Fritzlen, a senior from Kansas City, Missouri, and Proffitt, a sophomore from Columbus, Indiana, both started all 22 matches at defense last season, so they'll be called on by both the coaching staff and keeper Amanda Engel to keep things running smoothly in the defensive third. Erin Holland (seven appearances) and Cali Pyzdrowski (five appearances) might be the future of the defensive corps, as they'll both be sophomores this season. Isabella Carrasco and Maggie Edlebeck are both seniors this season, although they only have 16 appearances between them in their collegiate career, and Edlebeck did not play at all in 2013.
Now here lies an interesting conundrum. Since Amanda Engel took over the starting keeper spot at the start of the 2012 Big East schedule, it's been her net. Well almost. Sofie Schunk has made 12 appearances in relief of Engel, but she got the start in the 2013 NCAA tournament loss to Western Michigan. We'll presume that Engel was hurt (there's never been an official announcement on this topic), and that Engel's set to go to dominate the Big East again this season. The other interesting aspect of Marquette's goaltending situation is that Engel and Schunk are the only two keepers on the roster. Now, Engel's a junior, so it's going to be her net for the next two seasons. But it is slightly surprising to see that Marquette is forgoing what amounts to an emergency keeper this season. Hopefully this means that there's a high quality keeper in the recruiting pipeline for the Golden Eagles, because whoever it is, they're going to be Engel's back up in 2015.