It doesn’t matter what happens for 99.9% of sporting contests, if you think about it. All that matters is who has the lead when the game ends.
That bore itself out as true on Saturday afternoon in Marquette’s regular season finale. The Golden Eagles trailed for most of the first 53 minutes of the game before closing with the final three goals of the game to earn a 14-12 victory over Georgetown. It is the program’s first win against the Hoyas in seven tries, although they had come close repeatedly, with three of the previous four encounters being decided by just one goal. It was also Marquette’s first ever victory over a ranked opponent in program history, as the Hoyas came in ranked #24 in the country in the IWLCA coaches poll.
The win gives Marquette a record of 3-2 in the Big East this season, and puts them into a three-way tie for second place in the league. Thanks to Villanova’s lousy goal differential and MU’s win over the Hoyas, the Golden Eagles end up with the #2 seed in the Big East tournament. To add to the accolades gathered up by one single victory, the #2 seed is Marquette’s best ever finish after qualifying for the conference tournament for the first time ever as the #4 seed a year ago.
The game started with a little bit of an “uh-oh” feel, as the Hoyas scored the first two goals of the game in the first three minutes. Marquette notched two turnovers in between the Georgetown goals, which helped build that sensation of dread. Cate Soccodato started turning things around, assisting on a pair of Charlotte McGuire goals and then scoring one of her own to pull Marquette even at 3-3. By that point, there was just 9:19 left in the first half, so things had settled down for the Marquette defense as well.
That’s “had,” as in past tense, as Georgetown then ripped off four goals in a two-and-a-half minute stretch. 7-3, and the Hoyas had their first notable lead of the game. Again, it was Soccodato sticking her head into things, finding Megan Menzuber to snap the streak, and then McGuire wrapped up her hat trick on the day in the final minute of the half to send Marquette to the locker room down just 7-5.
It was a battling half, and I presume that was the message from head coach Meredith Black during the intermission. Keep playing like you’re playing, and we’re going to figure out how to win this game. Of course, GU head coach Ricky Fried could tell his team the same thing, and there was evidence to that when the Hoyas knocked in two goals in the first five minutes of the second half. That pushed the margin back to four goals, so it was clearly going to take a little bit more work than maybe Marquette expected.
And then Grace Gabriel poked her head above ground.
The Big East’s leading goal scorer coming into the game hadn’t found the back of the net yet in this one, so it was definitely a matter of time before Gabriel recorded a goal. What Georgetown really didn’t want was Gabriel going full Human Torch on them, but that’s what they got. The senior from upstate New York scored FIVE TIMES in the second half to drive the Golden Eagles to the win.
The first two came as part of a 4-0 run that wiped out the Georgetown lead and tied the game at 9-all. The first was thanks to a nifty free position pass from Lindsey Willcocks, and the second was a super drive through traffic to get Georgetown keeper Halle Chomo off balance.
It was Shea Garcia who picked up goal #9 on the day, and it was Garcia again who backed up Gabriel’s third of the day to even things back out again at 11-all. That second one came with Marquette holding a one woman advantage on the field thanks to a yellow card, and a Jocelyn Miller yellow card shortly thereafter led to a Georgetown goal to put the Hoyas back out in front.
That goal from Morgan Ryan would be the last time that Georgetown would find a way past Jules Horning.
63 seconds later, McGuire answered to knot the game at 12 each with 9:06 to play. It was the third time that Marquette had drawn even with the Hoyas in the second half, but Georgetown always found away to keep Marquette from taking the lead. That wasn’t the case this time, as Gabriel’s fourth of the day took advantage of both a GU yellow card and a free position attempt to put Marquette in the lead for the first time in the game.
Gabriel’s fifth goal of the game was quite a fun one, as there was a lot of similarity to her third goal of the game. It came with 2:23 to go, and Gabriel used a fallen Georgetown defender to get her the space to give Marquette an insurance cushion down the stretch.
Horning was outstanding for Marquette in this game, recording a season high 18 saves and falling just one short of her career high which came a year ago against these same Hoyas. Four of those saves came after Ryan’s goal late in the game, including a free position stop on Michaela Bruno with 11 seconds left in the game that sealed the victory for the Golden Eagles.
How about a full highlight package, courtesy of GoMarquette.com?
Up Next: Believe it or not, it’s Georgetown. Marquette is the #2 seed in the Big East tournament, and by way of tiebreakers, Georgetown is the #3 seed. We’ll run back this instant classic on Thursday in Milwaukee, as MU is the host for this year’s conference tournament. That game will start at approximately 6pm Central following the #1 vs #4 matchup between Denver and Villanova at 3pm Central. Both games will air on the Big East Digital Network on Fox Sports Go, and the winners will square off on Saturday at 1:30pm in the championship game.