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Marquette Women’s Soccer Stays Unbeaten With A Win Over Illinois State

All five goals in the game came in the second half.

Kylie Sprecher
Kylie Sprecher opened the scoring for MU in the first minute of the second half.

After a 5-0 boat racing of Chicago State on Friday, Marquette women’s soccer returned to action on Sunday afternoon.... and boy oh boy was there some action.

There was five goals scored again in this game, but this time Marquette had to share them with Illinois State Redbirds. All five goals were scored in a 34 minute window in the second half, but Elaina Eckert’s first goal of the season in the 75th minute was the difference in MU’s 3-2 victory over the Redbirds. The Golden Eagles are now 2-0-0 on the year, marking the first time that they’ve opened the season with two straight wins since 2012.

If you looked at just the shot totals from the first half, you’d think that Marquette was preparing to run away with this match. The Golden Eagles outshot Illinois State 10-1 in the opening 45 minutes of the match, but even with six shots on frame, MU couldn’t break through for a goal.

It didn’t take long into the second half for Marquette to figure that out, though. Kylie Sprecher scored the first goal of the game just 41 seconds into the second half..... and I’d like to tell you something about the goal, but the camera operator at the Valley did not have the ball in frame when Sprecher put her boot (or maybe her head?) onto the feed from Madison Burrier.

Anyway, 1-0. Illinois State leveled the match up less than three minutes later, which was kind of a bummer and a surprise at the same time given how Marquette had controlled the Redbirds in the first half. I’m not 100% sure what happened on the goal given the camera angles involved, but it looked like MU keeper Mikki Easter made a decision to attack the ball a split second too late, thus allowing Ashley Santos to boot it past her.

Elsi Twombly is credited with Marquette’s second goal of the match. Twombly sent a pass into the middle of the field and it ended up in the net. It was originally called for Alex Campana, but was eventually changed to Twombly. I suspect that there wasn’t enough contact from an ISU defender to justify an own goal call, because if you watch the video, it definitely looks like that’s the case.

That was in the 59th minute, but with ISU already on the board, the 2-1 lead didn’t feel safe. Thankfully, that’s when Elaina Eckert came to play in the 75th minute. Sprecher made the play to get it to Eckert who neatly chipped it past the keeper and into the net for the insurance goal.

Marquette’s two goal lead did not last very long as Santos added her second of the game just over four minutes later. That’s why you call them “insurance goals.” Easter had to make two more saves the rest of the way, both coming within five minutes of Santos’ goal. She made them, though, and the Golden Eagles were able to run out the clock for the win.

Easter went the full 90 minutes here, so after starting against Chicago State, it looks like she’ll be head coach Frank Pelaez’s keeper of choice going forward. She made four saves to earn the win. With a goal and an assist here, Sprecher has taken over the top spot on the Marquette points chart with five on the year so far. Twombly has also scored in both MU matches, so she’s sitting at four points right behind Sprecher.

Up Next: Three exhibition matches! Because of COVID related reasons, Marquette was only able to schedule exhibition matches against Loyola Chicago (2/14) and Northern Illinois (2/21) instead of full official matches. There’s also a 2/28 exhibition against UW-Parkside, but that’s less odd because Parkside isn’t a Division 1 team. With the rules out the door about how exhibitions are handled, we’re not going to do previews or recaps for any of these. That means we’ll be back in March to preview MU’s Big East opener against Creighton on the fourth.