The good news is that Marquette women’s soccer is 1-0-0 on the year after beating Central Michigan in the 2021 opener on Thursday night.
The bad news is that Marquette played an absolute clunker of a second half. The visiting Chippewas tallied three goals, two on penalty kicks, after intermission to pull within one with just under 20 minutes to play. The Golden Eagles pulled it together over the final 18 minutes to make their four goal first half stand up for a 4-3 win.
A fifth minute goal from Alex Campana got the season started for the Golden Eagles as she collected a pass from Kylie Sprecher, turned, and fired it in from the middle of the park. The run of play continued to favor the Golden Eagles until the 26th minute when Katrina Wetherell roofed a pretty feed from freshman Maggie Starker less than a minute after both women checked into the match.
Starker and Wetherell paired up on MU’s third goal of the match as well, kind of. Starker was trying to turn the corner in the box on CMU’s Megan Logue, and the referee declared that Logue hauled her down in the process. That sent Wetherell to the penalty kick spot, and she cleanly put that one a way for a 3-0 lead in the 39th minute.
Marquette’s fourth goal of the match came just under two minutes later. A corner kick turned into a header on target from Elsi Twombly, but it hit the crossbar juuuuust enough to send it straight down and back out into the field of play. Central Michigan’s Allison Lapoint couldn’t do a damn thing about it, and Starker, of all people, cleaned up the mess for the 4-0 margin with the clock reading 39:54.
That score stood up at halftime, but Marquette’s play did not. The Golden Eagles outshot Central Michigan 10-2 in the first half, but for whatever reason, either adjustments from the Chippewa bench or changes in lineups from Marquette, CMU took control of the match after the break. In the final 45 minutes, Central Michigan outshot Marquette 8-3, and that doesn’t completely explain how CMU kept reversing the field on MU and catching them racing back to get into anything resembling a proper defensive position. That’s the thing about it: The shot differential didn’t happen because Marquette parked the bus on a 4-0 lead for 45 minutes. Central Michigan definitely looked like the better team in the second half, which is made all the more surprising by how easily MU dominated things in the first 45 minutes.
The shutout was ended in the 54th minute when Laila Arab collected the ball deep in the box, turned, and lofted a ball past replacement goalie Lauren Schill and into the far wall. Okay, so, they got one. In the 60th minute, Schill made a great play on a tight shot blasted right at her.... but she only knocked it down, and it bounded away from her and out towards the right flag. It stayed in, and a cross by CMU turned into a foul by the Golden Eagles inside the box and thus a penalty kick. Amanda Britain stepped to the spot and popped it in, 2-0, just over an hour gone.
Okay, so, not a disaster here.
That was what was rapidly approaching in the 71st minute when CMU got wild and free into the box for what felt like the 900th time in the half. Schill made a diving play on the ball but tripped up the attacker in the process. Yellow card issued to the netminder and penalty given. Addie Brown sent that one in, and it was 4-3 with just over 19 minutes to go.
Here’s the good news: Marquette buckled it up from there. CMU added just one more shot to the proceedings after Brown’s goal, and that was shortly afterwards. Most of the final 19 minutes were relatively safe for MU, and two offsides calls against the visitors helped. Marquette started focusing on maintaining possession and nothing else on their end, ran the ball out to the corners, and that was that when the horn sounded.
Wetherell’s two goals off the bench led the team, obviously, but the notable star of the match was Starker. Just 39 minutes played in her collegiate debut, but she registered a goal and an assist within 15 minutes of checking in, and she was the one that drew the foul that led to Wetherell’s PK as well in that time frame. An outstanding debut for the high school Player of the Year in the state of Wisconsin last year, to say the least.
I don’t want to make any strong statements about Mikki Easter and Lauren Schill in net at this point. Easter was a beneficiary of MU controlling play in the first half, but she did make two saves to keep Central Michigan scoreless. Schill’s stat line is a mess with three goals allowed in 45 minutes against four saves, but the field defense in front of her was a much bigger problem. You can’t even really critique her organization behind the defense, because MU’s problems were happening out at midfield, dozens of yards away from Schill. Two of the goals allowed were PKs, too, and it’s hard to fault a goalie for allowing those..... although one was off a yellow card on Schill herself.
At the very least, I’d wager that forthcoming practices will lead to interesting conversations between MU’s defenders and keepers and the coaching staff.
Wanna watch a video recap, courtesy of GoMarquette.com?
Up Next: Well, it’s not the originally scheduled Sunday match against Green Bay. That one was cancelled already, so Marquette will be off until Sunday, August 29, when they welcome Notre Dame to the Valley.