Finally getting to play a home game at Gordon Moore Park the Marquette Catholic Explorers got the boost they were looking for, defeating Notre Dame of St. Louis 1-0.
The first-year Explorers wrapped up the regular season with a 3-12-1 record, but Monday's win was by far the most satisfying. They now enter the postseason at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at Parkway West.
It was Danielle Folkerts lifting Marquette's spirits on Monday, scoring a first-half goal on an assist from Kelsey Sulin in front of a slew of fans getting to watch their new program at home for the first time.
“For the girls it was amazing, for me it was amazing,” Explorers' head coach Sara Ulrich said. “We didn't think we were going to get a home game, so to get an opportunity to play and against a team that previously beat us in overtime, made it even better. Our loss against them stung because we lost in one-on-ones at the end, so the girls were pumped.”
That loss came on Sept. 15 at Notre Dame in St. Louis. The Missouri side of the river was where most of Marquette's games took place in its inaugural season. The Explorers only other game in Illinois came via a 7-0 loss at Edwardsville on Oct. 7.
Monday afforded the opportunity for many of Marquette's student body to attend the game at Moore Park. For many of them it was their first time witnessing a field hockey game and Ulrich said the support was greatly appreciated.
“All the girls told all their friends and they all came out. We had a ton of people out there, which was great,” Ulrich said. “We played on the road the entire year and for most of our fans that was the first game they've seen. They've never even witnessed a field hockey game, or heard about it, so to be able to come out there and watch one and watch one that we win was awesome for our girls. It's definitely a confidence booster going into the postseason.”
It will be a tough road for the Explorers in the playoffs. They played at Parkway West on Oct. 5 and came away with a 5-0 loss, but Ulrich thinks her team is in a better place now and Monday had a lot to do with that.
“We got a tough draw there, Parkway beat us 5-0 in the regular season, but we're a much stronger team right now I think,” said Ulrich. “We have a little bit of confidence going into it, so I expect some good things.”
As for the new home inside Moore Park, Ulrich feels it will be a good fit. Monday was a great day for the future of the new Marquette program.
“It's the start of a new beginning,” Ulrich said. “I think that field will work out for us and we realized that last night. It's a very nice field for field hockey and when we get some seating out there I think it will be wonderful.”