Four goal outings from Meg Bireley and Kyra LaMotte paired well with five point days from Bireley, Shea Garcia, and Mary Schumar as YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles bolted out to an early lead against Villanova at Valley Fields on Saturday. That early lead gave the Golden Eagles the advantage they needed to hold off the Wildcats and wrap up with a 19-14 win and move to 6-7 on the year and 1-1 in Big East play.
With a dangerous game against Denver looming in the distance for Marquette in Big East play, it was crucial for the Golden Eagles to take advantage of winnable games like Saturday’s contest against Villanova. It was also important in this specific case for Marquette to come out playing like the team that gave #21 UConn fits for 30 minutes a week ago if MU wanted to put themselves in position to qualify for the Big East tournament in a few weeks.
I’d say five goals in the first seven minutes of the game, including two from Bireley, tells the story of how ready Marquette was to play this game, especially when that meant Marquette was up 5-0. The two sides traded goals for the rest of the quarter from there, so that five goal margin stayed steady after 15 minutes, 7-2. Villanova pushed back against it to start the next period, including goals from Sydney Pappas about 90 seconds apart to pull the Wildcats within three at 8-5 with 9:09 left before halftime.
This is where Marquette made a big statement about how this game was going to go. Bireley wrapped up her hat trick with 6:29 left in the first half, and that was followed by goals from Mary Schumar and Emma Soccodato before the two minute mark. 11-5 Marquette, one goal better than that 5-0 start. Both sides added one more before halftime, and after Nova scored first in the third, the Golden Eagles scored the only other goals in the period: Shea Garcia while up a woman with 13:02 to go, and then two from Kyra LaMotte. The first one was at the 11:45 mark to put MU up seven for the first time in the game, and then she tallied while MU was down a woman with 8:57 left to go.
15-7 with 15 minutes to play, and after both teams put one more up each, it was 16-8 with 13 minutes left. I would imagine that if we gave head coach Meredith Black some truth serum, she would probably say she really hated Villanova going on a 5-1 run over the next nine minutes. That left the game at 17-13 with just barely under four minutes to play. That’s one of those “Marquette needs to make the clock their friend” kind of situations, and they pulled that off. They induced a turnover not long after VU won the ensuing draw, burned some clock, called a timeout, and then got a goal from Bireley to make it a five goal game, 18-13, with 2:27 to go. Five in two-and-a-half is a lot different than four in four, and so things were safe from there, but for a moment, it really looked like Marquette was starting to veer into trouble.
I mentioned Marquette’s top points performers at the top of the page, but we can’t ignore the hat trick from Emma Soccodato, nor the goal and two assists from Elise Smigiel, as everyone who got at least one point for Marquette on the day had a minimum of three. We should also point out Emma Soccodato’s health status for the game, as she went down holding her hand late in the second quarter. Not sure if she caught a stick to the hand or if she landed on it, but she was back in the lineup with it all taped up after intermission, so it wasn’t bad enough to keep her from playing. Soccodato looked like she fell on the injured wrist during the second half and she definitely looked like it wasn’t a fun time, so we’ll see what happens for her availability next weekend.
Amanda Rumsey set the tone for Marquette in the first quarter as she made three save to help the Golden Eagles build that five goal margin after 15 minutes. She made one stop in each of the following three quarters, and again, I bet the coaching staff would have liked to have seen at least one more in the fourth quarter, but a win’s a win, so you can’t really complain that loudly about it.
How about some highlights, courtesy of GoMarquette.com and Flosports?
Up Next: After last week’s loss to UConn, it was important that Marquette pick up this win. Next Saturday gets put in that same category, as the Golden Eagles will be hosting Butler. First draw is set for 12pm Central in the Valley. The Bulldogs are 6-6 on the year and 0-2 against Big East squads after falling 17-7 at home to Georgetown on Saturday. If the Golden Eagles see themselves in the Big East tournament in May, then they have to get that win to keep themselves in the top four in the standings.