As is always the case in college sports, the strength of a team will come from the players returning from the previous season. They’re the older, more experienced players, they’re already familiar with the coaching staff and the general tactics the team uses, and last but certainly not least, they are going to have a physical edge over the younger players, both because of access to better training and the aforementioned age difference.
Marquette women’s soccer won a share of the Big East regular season title in 2016, and if they’re going to do that again in 2017, the heavy lifting is going to have to be done by the veterans on Markus Roeders’ roster. Here’s what to expect and watch for from the returning women.
It wouldn’t be terribly surprising to see an improvement in Marquette’s defense this season merely because Maddy Henry is a sophomore now. As a freshman in 2016, Henry played every minute of all 22 of Marquette’s matches. She posted a goals-against average of 1.23 (fifth best in the Big East) for the whole season, but allowed less than a goal per 90 minutes in MU’s nine league matches. Henry also saw a similar improvement in her save percentage, stopping 75.7% of shots on goal for the whole season, but improving to 79.5% against league foes. Her performance was good enough to earn her a unanimous spot on the Big East All-Freshman Team, and it was good enough to win a regular season championship, or at least a share of one last season. Because of changes on the back line in front of her (we’ll get into that in a minute), Henry will need to be better in 2017 if MU wants to hoist another trophy.
Sloane Carlson will back up Henry again in 2017. Officially, she’s a junior on the roster, but she hasn’t played in a match since 2015. She allowed five goals in three appearances totaling less than 160 minutes, but that was all as a true freshman thrust into the lineup under less than ideal circumstances.
You’ll have to excuse me on the categorization here, as I can only sort the players by how the team roster sorts them. Even with three general positions on the field (defense/midfield/forward), Marquette somehow has six different groupings. We’re going to combine these two groups together, as they’ll be the ones primarily called on to simplify Maddy Henry’s life in net.
The good news for Henry is that Madison Dunker and Emily Hess return from last season. Dunker, a senior from Rockton, Illinois, started all 22 matches in 2016, and was in the starting 11 for all 14 matches that she appeared in for the 2015 season. She’s been a mainstay on defense for a while now for Markus Roeders, so she’s well versed in how the team should be playing and now she’s familiar with Henry, too. Same goes for Hess, who earned 18 starts as a freshman last season. The Batavia, Illinois, native made a name for herself in 2016 by being a gutsy, headstrong player who was unafraid to stick her neck out to make a play on the ball.
The bad news for Henry is that Morgan Proffitt, Cali Pyzdrowski, and Erin Holland all wrapped up their collegiate careers last season. Proffitt, the 2016 Big East Defensive Player of the Year, and Holland were one of just three field players to log more than 2,000 minutes last season (Dunker was the third), and Pyzdrowski averaged more than 80 minutes per game in her 18 appearances. That is A LOT of defensive experience that’s just flat out missing from the roster, and someone, or rather a lot of someones are going to have to step up and fill those voids. Kirsten Timmer and Leah Celarek are most likely front and center on that list. Celarek made nine starts in 17 appearances last season, and while Timmer missed all of 2016 due to injury, the senior from McCordsville, Indiana, started nine matches as a sophomore. Celarek earned the start in MU’s exhibition match against Wisconsin, so it seems that it might be her job to lose to start the season.
Bri Jaeger and Mary Kate Simon started that exhibition match on the back line next to Celarek and Dunker, so it seems that they have the next spots in line when it comes to playing opportunities. Neither woman has much collegiate experience with Jaeger sitting out last season and appearing for just 18 minutes in her freshman year. Simon is a redshirt freshman from Thiensville, Wisconsin, and has yet to appear in a regular season match for the Golden Eagles. Without video from the Wisconsin game, it’s hard to say how these two played in the match, but the Golden Eagles conceded three first half goals in a span of 13 minutes and Emily Hess was the first reserve off the bench in the game.
Junior Allison Jacobson and redshirt freshman Maura Weaver round out the defensive minded players on the roster. Jacobson seemed to be following in her older sisters’ footsteps with 10 appearances as a freshman, but she played just 88 minutes last season. Weaver was a four-year varsity letter winner back in Broadview Heights in Ohio, but we’ll have to wait and see if she can crack the lineup this season.
This is where the categorization gets a little goofy. What’s the difference between a midfielder/forward and a forward/midfielder on the Marquette roster? MU lists three of the first and two of the second.
The four big names to know here are Carrie Madden, Caroline Fink, Eli Beard, and Ryley Bugay. All four started against Wisconsin, and there’s no reason to not expect those four in the starting 11 all season. Madden led Marquette in points last season on six goals and five assists and is the Golden Eagles’ lone representative on the preseason All-Big East team. Fink logged over 1,200 minutes in each of the past two seasons and worked her way in to over 400 minutes of action in her freshman year as well. She’s not a notable scoring threat with just four goals and an assist in her three seasons, but Fink is a more than capable possession minded midfielder.
Like Fink, Beard is a senior, but she’s been mostly used in a reserve role for the Golden Eagles. She has 47 career caps, but only eight starts, and after playing 662 minutes as a freshman, she didn’t crack 400 either of the past two years. She’s not afraid of the big moment, though, scoring her lone goal of 2016 just 57 seconds into overtime in the final regular season match and giving Marquette a share of the regular season title as a result. Bugay has slowly been working her way into more and more responsibility from Roeders. After redshirting during her first year at Marquette, the Indiana native ended up making eight starts in 2015, followed by 11 starts in 19 appearances last season and racking up over 1,000 minutes. She’s yet to score her first collegiate goal, but if she posts yet another career high in minutes, you’d have to think she’ll find a way to drive one home this season.
MU does have some depth in this department, but we’ll have to wait to see how much they see the field. Redshirt junior Heather Handwork is the veteran presence here as she returns to the active lineup after sitting out last season. She has 28 career appearances, but her playing time was trimmed way down from her freshman year to sophomore season. Hailey VanDerLeest saw 630 minutes of action as a redshirt freshman last season, and given that, you’d have to figure that she was only sitting out the 2015 campaign to finish rehabbing from a knee injury from her high school days. Erin Johnston and Josie Fowler are both redshirt freshmen after sitting out in 2015, and both got a chance to get on the field in the exhibition loss to Wisconsin.
We have to start this final category by talking about Darian Powell. She’s now a graduate student at Marquette and in her sixth season with the program thanks to a medical hardship waiver after ankle surgeries derailed her first two seasons. Nevertheless, Powell has rebounded to score 18 goals in the past three seasons, and currently sits just two goals away from tying Lanette Rossini for the 10th most goals in program history. Last season was a bit of a rough go for Powell, as she was limited to just 11 starts and 860 minutes, but she still scored four times and recorded an assist. Her career best in goals is seven, and if she were to match that this year, she would end up with the sixth most goals in program history. Going as high as fourth isn’t completely out of the question, as Taylor Madigan and Jessica Peterson are tied for that spot with 27. Merely getting to 20 and moving into the top 10 will be a remarkable accomplishment for her given what Powell has gone through in order to get back out onto the pitch.
Speaking of fighting to make returns, that brings us to Jamie Kutey. After a strong freshman campaign that included a goal, an assist, five starts, and a spot on the Big East All-Freshman team, Kutey’s sophomore season was limited to just 15 minutes in three games thanks to a bout of mononucleosis. The Kansas native showed what she’s capable of providing for Marquette when she scored just 65 seconds into the exhibition match against Wisconsin. The attacking trio of Kutey, Madden, and Powell should provide the Golden Eagles with a significant amount of offensive pop this season, something that should help the defense iron out an issue or three as the season moves along. After all, the opponent can’t score if you have the ball, right?
We wrap up our look at the returning players with Abby Hess. The Minnesota native is the Hess that did not see the field for Marquette last season, so she’ll be a redshirt freshman this season. She scored 14 goals and 11 assists as a senior in high school for Mayo High in Rochester as the team went undefeated in conference play for the second straight year. She clearly has a knack for shaking the twine, the only issue is whether or not she’ll get a chance to showcase it for MU this year.