Through 45 minutes on Sunday afternoon, Marquette and LSU were scoreless. The Golden Eagles had the advantage on shots, 6-3, though, and that's what you really wanted to see. As we had discussed, MU has struggled at taking an advantage in shots so far this season, so it was a welcome sight to see the team taking control of the game in that manner.
They took control of the game on the scoreboard in the 63rd minute. Ann Marie Lynch, who had a knack of being in the right place at the right time in the second half, launched a cross in from the left side, and Tigers keeper Lily Alfeldt had to track back towards the far post to try to make a play on it. She ended up not being able to get a good leap at it, and Alfeldt's first touch sent it towards the ground. Shalese Miller made a long run into the box straight at Afeldt, and as luck would have it, timed it perfectly to put a header touch on the ball. Unfortunately, it took an upwards track to the crossbar.... and then it bounced back into play right to Miller, who took a second crack at heading it in, and this time it worked. Marquette was up 1-0 and firmly in control of the match.
Eli Beard tacked on a goal just over two minutes later. Mary Luba found Beard all alone out in the middle of the field, and after a few dribbles to take up the space that the LSU defense was giving her, Beard launched a shot that went soaring past Afeldt into the upper right corner of the net.
From there, all Marquette had to do was play solid defense to wrap this one up, and given how liberal referee Christopher Koloffon was being in regards to physicality, that seemed easy enough to accomplish. Except when Jacie Jermier and a Tiger attacker started going round and round the ball in an effort to gain an advantage, and Koloffon whistled Jermier for a foul. I'm not saying that it wasn't deserved, they were tangled up pretty good. I'm saying that based on seeing multiple occurances of a player gaining a distinct advantage through physical play without Koloffon making a call and in some cases making clear "play on" gestures as a result of it, whatever Jermier was doing was NOT a foul under the conditions that Koloffon was laying out. Until it was, of course.
And hey, look what happened: LSU realized MU was taking their time organizing their defense, made a quick restart, got the ball to Summer Clarke, who went far post and beat Amanda Engel to halve the lead with just over 16 minutes to play.
Marquette reasserted themselves from there on out, though, looking like a typical Markus Roeders squad: cutting off attacks before they turned too dangerous and pressuring down the field even with a lead. As mentioned, the feature player of the final segment of the match was Ann Marie Lynch, who was running down balls on both ends of the field to make sure that the Golden Eagles maintained as much possession as they could manage. LSU would have one final chance after Morgan Proffitt was issued a yellow card for a foul about 25 yards out from Engel's net. The free kick came dangerously close to the net, but Engel punched it over the crossbar, and on the ensuing corner kick, Beard came up with the clearance that ended the LSU threat.
Engel made five saves in the match to move Marquette to 4-5-1 on the season, while Afeldt made four, and relied on her defense to make a fifth as the ball slowly trickled past her and along the mouth of the goal, tantalizing the MU fans in the Valley Fields grandstand.
Up Next: It's time for the Big East schedule to start, and Marquette appears to have everything on the right track just in time. As was the case last year, Creighton (8-1-0) will be the first opponent in league play. The match will be down in the Valley on Thursday night.