EDWARDSVILLE — In spirit the Edwardsville Tigers and Marquette Catholic Explorers have a nice field hockey rivalry. On the field it's not quite there yet.
The Tigers blew by the Explorers, 8-0, on Thursday at the District 7 Sports Complex. It follows up their 7-0 victory against their sister program in 2015.
EHS has been longing for a fellow Illinois squad to go up against, after strictly playing Missouri schools for years. Marquette, in its second full season as a program, strives to reach the competitive level of the Tigers. Edwardsville moved to 2-0 with Thursday's win, while the Explorers dipped to 0-2 on the young season.
“This is a building program, but we're going to get there someday,” first-year Marquette head coach Dan Folkerts said. “We have a good nucleus of kids hopefully coming back next year. We'll be there. It takes a little time. It may take five, six, seven years but we'll get there.”
EHS head coach Julie Tyler saw the improvement in the Explorers, despite the lopsided number on the scoreboard.
“Marquette is a very good defensive team,” Tyler said. “They did a very good job tonight and they've really improved over the last year and they put out a great effort whenever they come out here.”
The Explorer defense did a great job of corralling the Tigers until the 18th minute on Thursday. Throughout the first half EHS accumulated nine corners, but took just seven shots on goal. Marquette goalie Kaitlin Fitzgerald did a tremendous job, along with her defensive cohorts.
“We came out very slow and our warmup was very slow, so the girls learned a valuable lesson that their warmup needs to be much stronger so they can come out ready to play,” Tyler said.
Edwardsville found its way onto the scoreboard when Allie Hosto found the back of the net on a barrage in front of the Marquette goal. Maren McSparin was credited with the assist.
McSparin then scored less than a minute later to run the EHS lead to 2-0 and Kaitlyn Smith tallied a goal in the 28th minute to allow the Tigers to take a comfortable 3-0 lead into the break.
The polished stick work and passing of Edwardsville just turned out to be too much for the Explorers.
Folkerts only took over the Marquette program a couple weeks ago, so he and the girls are still getting acquainted with each other and he knows its a work in progress.
“Missing the offseason workouts this year, it hurts,” he said. “But we've been working hard in practice and these girls give 110 percent every time they come out. There are sometimes I leave practice and they are still practicing. We're going to have games like this. Every coach has to go through these growing pains.”
The Tigers took the momentum of the end of the first half and dominated the second 30 minutes.
Olivia Fink scored in the 33rd minute to run the score to 4-0 and Hosto rifled a shot into the back of the net from 20 yards out in the 43rd minute to make 5-0 in favor of EHS.
Kailey Noud scored on a dish from McSparin in the 45th minute. McSparin redirected a Hosto shot for a tally in the 51st minute, with Hosto earning the assist and finally Louisville-bound Annie Mulford finished off the scoring with a goal high into the net in the 58th minute.
Hosto and McSparin highlighted the day for the Tigers, each scoring a pair of goals and adding one assist.
Overall, EHS outshot the Explorers 21-1 and beat them on corners 9-0.
It was a special day for McSparin, who is in her first varsity season. She saw a few minutes last season, but Thursday she scored the first goals of her varsity career.
“I had a really good warmup and felt good on my hits,” McSparin said. “I had good passes and it felt really good. Last game I didn't feel like my hits were going well.”
She admitted it felt good to beat Marquette and her and the rest of the Tigers see the Explorers as a fun rivalry.
“I think we definitely look at it as a rivalry because one of the things we miss out on is like football, 'oh, it's against Collinsville, it's against Alton.' We're excited for those games,” McSparin said. “In field hockey every St. Louis school is kind of a rivalry, but having a team here, it makes it that much more exciting to play.”
Next up for Edwardsville is Visitation at 4:15 p.m. Wednesday at home. Marquette faces Notre Dame of St. Louis at 5 p.m. Tuesday on the road.