2011 Women's Soccer Season Preview: Goalkeepers and Defense

Aug. 19, 2011

MILWAUKEE - In anticipation of the 2011 Marquette women's soccer season, GoMarquette.com will breakdown the team position by position starting today. The first positions previewed will be the goalkeepers and defenders followed by the midfield and forwards on Saturday.

The Marquette women's soccer team prepares to write another chapter in its already long and decorated postseason book and earn its 10th berth in the NCAA Tournament. After another banner year in which the Golden Eagles repeated as BIG EAST American Division Champions with unblemished 11-0-0 record and advanced to the third round of the NCAA Championship, Marquette stormed through the spring season undefeated while outscoring its foes 17-6. The Golden Eagles are ready and eager to get back on the field to continue their winning tradition this fall.

Four All-BIG EAST selections from 2010 return to the lineup including the league's BIG EAST Goalkeeper and Defensive Players of the Year, Natalie Kulla and Kerry McBride, respectively. The team's top two leading scorers, Rachael Sloan, a two-time All-BIG EAST First Team selection, and Maegan Kelly, an All-BIG EAST Rookie honoree, also return.

The Golden Eagles are ranked in the top 15 in two preseason national polls, 12th according to the NSCAA and 14th by Soccer America. Recently, the BIG EAST Conference coaches picked Marquette to finish second in the American Division behind rival West Virginia, but with talent and blue collar work ethic the Golden Eagles will undoubtedly be contention for their third straight regular season title.

The Golden Eagles will look to find the necessary balance between the upperclassmen and the underclassmen as 22 underclassmen and nine upperclassmen make up the squad. Marquette will rely on the veteran leadership of its senior class of Natalie Kulla, Lindsey Page, Kerry McBride and Rachael Sloan to make another run at a BIG EAST regular season title and a deep run in the NCAA Championship.

The Golden Eagles bring a plethora of new talent in 2011, in 10 highly-touted freshmen: Haley Fritzlen, Gabby Kailas, Mary Luba, Shalese Miller, Allie Hieb, Jacie Jermier, Elizabeth Bollinger, Maggie Edlebeck, Mady Vicker, Isabela Carrasco, and one transfer, Vanessa Legault-Cordisco. Roeders believes that if they play to their capabilities, they will challenge for playing time. The freshmen have won regional and national youth soccer titles, and boast Olympic Development Program experience, Legault-Cordisco has experience playing with the Canadian National Team.

Armed with talent and depth, the Golden Eagles have the pieces needed to be one of the top teams in the nation. Now, Marquette must prove it on the field.

In goal, three-year veteran starter and reigning BIG EAST Goalkeeper of the Year Natalie Kulla returns following a productive spring and summer which included a camp with the U.S. U23 National Team. Along with her league goalkeeper of the year honors, Kulla also earned All-BIG EAST First Team and NSCAA All-Northeast Region Second Team accolades in 2010 following a tremendous junior season. Kulla played every second of every match in 2010, registered 10 shutouts and a goals against average of 0.756. Kulla will look to finish her career at Marquette as the program's most decorated goalkeeper. Kulla owns the career shutouts record with 32, stands third on the career wins list (40) and sixth on the career saves list (167).

Helping her to continue to raise the level of her play is second-year back-up goalkeeper Sofie Schunk. Schunk had the luxury of learning from one of the top goalkeepers in the nation. Roeders believes the competition Schunk brings daily only pushes Kulla to be even better, and he is confident when given the opportunity Schunk is ready.

Defense has always been a trademark of the Marquette women's soccer team, which won't change in 2011, in fact, the Golden Eagles welcome back three of four members of their stifling defensive unit that helped register 10 shutouts and allow less than one goal per game in 2010.

MAC Hermann Trophy candidate and BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year Kerry McBride is back to anchor Marquette's defense. Joining McBride are starters Katie Hishmeh and Ally Miller. Both are tremendous defenders who are able to cover a lot of space.

Junior Megan Jaskowiak and sophomore Emily Jacobson didn't see much action in 2010, but made tremendous strides in the spring and summer and will see plentiful minutes in 2011.

Not only was the Golden Eagles' backline solid defensively, it was also contributed to the Golden Eagles' offensive attack, as three of MU's top 14 goal scorers were defenders. Graduated senior Lauren Thut ranked third on the team in points with one goal and a team-high 13 assists. McBride used her size to her advantage and scored two goals and one assist, and Miller also contributed two goals in 2010.

As for MU's reserves, freshman Haley Fritzlen showed she is ready to contribute when called upon after a remarkable preseason training camp. Classmates Allie Hieb and Maggie Edlebeck also look to be in the mix to give the Golden Eagles more options with its defensive shape.




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