DePaul women’s soccer falls 2-0 in Big East Championship

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For 45 minutes, the Big East Championship had a familiar feel compared to the rest of DePaul women’s soccer games.

Both Marquette and DePaul went into halftime scoreless, but it was DePaul who established themselves defensively. Marquette, like Georgetown and Villanova before them, led the first half in shots on goal, yet couldn’t crack DePaul’s backfield.

All the Blue Demons needed was to get one goal after the half and keep up the defensive pressure.

Not this time.

In a gritty performance, DePaul women’s soccer team came up just short Sunday in a 2-0 loss to Marquette.

“It’s tough to beat a No. 1 seed (Marquette) and a No. 2 seed (Georgetown) back-to-back,” head coach Erin Chastain said. “Certainly, we are happy to be here playing for the title, but in the second half, we had nothing left in the tank.”

The game was a tale of two halves with Marquette coming out of halftime with a burst of energy. The Golden Eagles outshot DePaul 20-2 in the second half, including nine shots on goal.

Marquette’s aggression was apparent right away. The Golden Eagles couldn’t capitalize on a three-on-one opportunity, but soon marched back down the field to set up their first goal.

During the 58th minute, Marquette forward Taylor Madigan drove a shot across her body and nailed the corner of the goal to give the Golden Eagles the lead.

“Counting the St. John’s game to end the regular season, we’ve played four games in a little more than a week,” Chastain said. “That takes its toll when you don’t have the depth that Marquette does.

“Most of our starters played the whole 90 minutes in all four games,” she added. “That caught up with us in the second half.”

Marquette’s second goal came in the 67th minute. A miscommunication gave midfielder Anne Marie Lynch an easy tap in to extend the lead 2-0.

Despite giving up two goals, keeper Alejandria Godinez finished the game with 13 saves. It was another solid performance for the goalie, who was voted Big East keeper of the year.

The Blue Demons ended up with six shots, only one of them on goal. Still, the team never gave up, applying pressure in the final minutes. Ana Greik got the best look of the day, just missing a shot from the right side of the net that went high.

“I thought I had it,” Greik said. “If I score, it changes the tempo of the game.”

With the victory, Marquette won their second Big East championship in a row. For DePaul, the second place finish is a representation of the significant progress made the last two seasons. The team finished 3-14-1 in 2011 and 9-10-2 in 2012.

This year’s run to the championship was highlighted by an upset win over No. 15/8 rank Georgetown. Senior forward Erin Pekovitch scored a 20-yard goal, giving the Blue Demons their first championship birth.

Now, the Blue Demons (13-5-2) patiently wait to see if they will be selected for the NCAA tournament.

“I’m proud of the way our group came out and competed today,” Chastain said. “The win over Georgetown will help move us up in the RPI. We’ll find out on Monday if this wonderful season can continue.”

The four-win improvement over last season’s record was the biggest improvement in the conference, and the 10-win improvement from two years ago shows that Chastain is turning around a previously struggling team. If the upward trend continues, DePaul will probably find itself in the tournament again next year.