Xavier Soccer’s Fast Start is No Lie

 Musketeers have amassed wins over Northeastern, Louisville, and Western Kentucky

By Pat Gainor, Staff Writer

Xavier women’s soccer has kicked off the season with a scorching hot 3-1 record two weeks into the season.

After a successful campaign last year advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for only the second time in program history, Xavier entered the season with high expectations. Beginning the year ranked second in the Big East preseason poll, the goal for this year is clear – Big East Championship or bust.

As of Sunday, the  Muskies, ranked number 17 nationally, kicked off their season with a 3-1 record with back-to-back 2-0 wins over Northeastern and Louisville, a 1-0 loss to Illinois and a dominant 5-1 win over WKU — the latter being the most goals Xavier has scored in a game since 2019.

The early season success is thanks both to excellent play from veterans and new freshmen and acquisitions from the transfer portal that Head Coach Nate Lie secured during the offseason. Despite the departure of players like All-American midfielder Molly McLaughlin, veterans Ella Rogers and Sonia Vargas have stepped up with both netting a goal in the 2-0 win against Louisville. Sophomore Maria Galley, whose outstanding defense helped Xavier to eight shutouts amidst their 13-game unbeaten streak last year, has also been excellent. She was selected for Big East Goalkeeper of the Week after opening the year over the course of back to back shutouts and has accumulated nine saves against two goals allowed so far.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of this team  is the talent that has emerged from the 2027 class and the acquisitions from the transfer portal and recruiting trail. Most notable from the portal is freshman midfielder Kennedy Clark, who leads the team in points after notching a goal and an assist in the win against Western Kentucky. From the transfer portal, Lie landed commitments from Houston midfielder Samantha Wiehe and Stanford defender Madison Ayson.

Wiehe, a junior who grew up in Northfield, made a statement early as she scored the first goal of the season in the opener against Northeastern. Ever since, she’s made going unnoticed impossible with her aggressive touches and drives making opponents’ lives miserable when they try to cross midfield. She currently sits at four points after scoring the opening goal on Sunday. On the defensive side, Ayson —  who won the National Championship with Stanford back in 2019 — has accompanied Natalie Bain, a preseason All Big East Team selection, and Maddie Reed into making the Muskies defense nearly impenetrable. Thanks to their efforts, Xavier has collectively outshot their opponents 57-29 four games into the season.

Five games non-conference games remain in the schedule, with two of the hardest matches of the season on the horizon for the Musketeers. On Thursday, Xavier takes on Saint Louis, who is just outside the United Soccer Coaches poll, before returning home to host number 21 Pitt in an intense ranked matchup at Corcoran on September 7. On Sunday, September 10, the Musketeers will meet the Knights of Bellarmine University for the first time in program history. After that match at Corcoran, the women in navy will take a two-game excursion to Texas for matches against Lamar University (Sep. 14) in Beaumont and Rice University (Sep. 17) in Houston. 

Big East conference play commences on September 21 at Corcoran Field against Butler. The Musketeers will battle each in-conference foe once in the regular season. The Georgetown Hoyas, preseason favorite to win the conference championship, rolls into town on October 5 for a nationally televised primetime showdown.