Women's Soccer Aims to Rebound in 2015

Junior defender Morgan Proffitt

Aug. 7, 2015

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Marquette University women's soccer has become accustomed to a level of competitive excellence unrivaled at Marquette and among its BIG EAST peers, but was unfortunately not immune to a rare down season by its high standards in 2014.

After going a combined 39-1-1 in conference action in the four seasons from 2010-13, during a streak of five consecutive regular season league titles, the Golden Eagles posted a 5-3-1 BIG EAST record in 2014 after being picked as the preseason favorite. That finish placed MU fourth in the conference standings and forced Marquette to sit out the NCAA tournament for the first time in seven years.

"Overall you look at our team and I think we have learned a lot from last year and have a great core group back," said Marquette head coach Markus Roeders. "There were some spells during last year that were disappointing because we had so many close games that didn't go our way or slipped through our hands. As long as we stay healthy we will be able to play our style and should see success."

MU returns seven of 11 starters from last year's squad and Roeders, now entering his 20 season at the helm of the Golden Eagles, has a renewed optimism for this season.

"There is an excitement of what we could be and we just have to make it happen, but our balance and depth should be a strength for us," Roeders said prior to the start of preseason camp. "In the spring we saw that our returning group is highly motivated and we've got a great core of upperclassmen who have to contribute."

That core begins with senior captains Amanda Engel, Jacie Jermier and Ann Marie Lynch, three of seven returning starters and MU's most experienced players. Engel and Jermier were the only two Golden Eagles to start all 21 games in 2014 and are expected to do so again this season, providing leadership to the defensive unit.

Amanda Engel is just MU's third starter in net since entering the BIG EAST in 2005.
Amanda Engel is just MU's third starter
in net since entering the BIG EAST in 2005.

"Our senior class is going to have to make a huge impact with Amanda being a fourth-year starter now, Ann Marie really growing into her role in the midfield and Jacie really coming on the way she has," Roeders explained. "Those three are very valuable members of our team as captains and are going to provide great leadership. How they perform will determine how the rest of the team progresses."

For the Golden Eagles though, it starts with Engel in net. An All-BIG EAST selection in 2012 and 2013, the senior sits among MU's career leaders in all goalkeeping statistical categories and posted a 10-7-3 record with seven shutouts as a junior. MU ranked among the league's leaders in shots and goals in 2014, but was also last in goals allowed.

"Obviously having Amanda in goal as a rising senior and four-year starter, will have to win us some games," Roeders said. "She's been through the gauntlet of having played in some huge games in her career, right from the start her freshman year with Duke and North Carolina and against BYU in the Sweet 16."

Perhaps part of Marquette's success in the last decade is a unique continuity in goal that has seen MU play just three starting goalkeepers since entering the BIG EAST in 2005. Engel follows in the footsteps of Laura Boyer (2005-07) and Natalie Kulla (2008-11), each of whom started in net for the Golden Eagles during each season of their respective careers on campus.

"Laura and Natalie had different strengths, but when they were at their end of their careers they played their best," Roeders said. "I can see Amanda doing the same thing because being in your senior year creates that extra focus and energy that it must happen now. In her position in goal as a leader, the potential of what she can help us do hopefully creates a ripple effect to the other players around her. If we can do well defensively and not give up to many opportunities, I think we can be in a great position to compete."

"(Jacie Jermier) still has an attacking mindset with great defensive capability. You combine that with how well she does on set plays and the sky is the limit for her."

-Markus Roeders

Jermier returns on defense after scoring four goals and adding three assists as an All-BIG EAST Second Team selection in 2014. The McFarland, Wisconsin native also played midfield for the Golden Eagles in 2013 and that ability to play in a variety of situations has proven valuable.

"Jacie has a certain calmness about herself and has been very coachable with a willingness to adjust," Roeders said. "She has a great left foot and being able to play in the back after previously playing up field has given her great experience. She still has an attacking mindset with great defensive capability. You combine that with how well she does on set plays and the sky is the limit for her. She is one of the top players in the BIG EAST and might be a sleeper among the top players in the country."

Three-year starter and fellow returning All-BIG EAST Second Teamer, Morgan Proffitt, will help to anchor the defensive unit, which will see Erin Holland return from injury and the graduation of Haley Fritzlen.

"We will be a little more seasoned on the back line with Jacie, Morgan, Erin and even Madison Dunker, who I thought did a great job in the spring. We might still need to fill a hole here and there, possibly in the right back position with Cali Pyzdrowski coming off an injury. That needs to become a core unit for us again with five or six players deep," Roeders said.

Holland started the first 16 games of 2014 before going down with a knee injury and Pyzdrowski started the final four contests of the year. Newcomers Caitlin Carroll, a sophomore transfer from Dayton, and freshman Bri Jaeger from Cedarburg could also play a role defensively.

Liz Bartels

Lynch returns in the midfield after starting all but one contest last season, as does junior Liz Bartels, a 2014 All-BIG EAST First Team selection who will also play up front. Bartels posted a team-high six assists along with three goals as a sophomore, though the Golden Eagles lost their 2014 points leader Mary Luba to graduation.

"We've got great talent in the midfield and balance between athleticism, skill, speed and quickness as well as the ability to possess the ball," Roeders said. "I think once we get that motor going we have to sort out if we are going to play five in the midfield, or four, or three centrally. Eli Beard getting injured toward the final third of the season last year hurt us and she can be eye-opening to some people. If we can get Meegan Johnston healthy and fit from the beginning she is someone who can really stretch defenses and has a great shot."

The Golden Eagles led the BIG EAST with 301 shots attempted in 2014 for an average of 14.33 per contest and sat third in goals per game with 1.71. They will look to add increased firepower behind leading goal scorer Darian Powell, who posted a team-best seven markers as a sophomore.

"In the front line we just have so many combinations of players who are going to be able to go one-on-one and stretch the field with pure speed and athleticism like Ashley Handwork," Roeders said. "We've got some players who are real goal scorers, like Jamie Kutey coming in as a freshman, and Darian Powell who knows how to put the ball in the net. Liz Bartels always wants to play up front so we might end up ultimately playing her there."

Ashley Handwork scored a pair of goals in 2014 and recently helped the Chicago Red Stars Reserves to the 2015 WPSL National Championship with goals in both the semifinal and title match. The potential for increased production from her as well as the addition of Jamie Kutey, a high school spring second team TopDrawerSoccer.com All-American, could boost MU's offensive production in 2015.

The Golden Eagles reported to campus for preseason training on Tuesday morning and will head to Camp Whitcomb this weekend before their exhibition opener at Wisconsin on Thursday, Aug. 13 at 7 p.m. Fan Fest is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 14 at Valley Fields from 5-7 p.m.




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