The fall sports previews keep rolling on as Matt and I are getting into a groove. Today, we're back to the Women's Soccer team to take a look at another senior that will once again make an impact for the Bulls in their quest for back-to-back MAC Championships.
Shawn Burke's inaugural season in charge of the Bulls featured one of the stingiest defenses in conference history. There will be some turnover in 2015, but not a whole lot is going to chance. Jackie Hall may have won the MAC Defensive Player of the Year award, but she's not the only back-line veteran returning to the pitch. Regardless of how the other holes are filled, UB will once again feature a pair of seniors in the defense as Hall is joined by Kristin Markiewicz.
Markiewicz has been a fixture on the Bulls' back line since she stepped into the starting lineup as a freshman, starting in 16 of the 19 games she played in. Her first career goal came during her first collegiate game against Colgate and she also scored against Bowling Green. Ultimately she was recognized on the MAC All-Freshman team, the last Bull to make the cut before Laura Dougall and Julia Benati this past season. Over the course of her sophomore and junior seasons, she's led the back line, starting in 39 of a possible 40 matches.
In 2014 in particular, Kristin's defensive presence - along with everyone else's - led to a program record 14 clean sheets, while allowing 17 goals in 22 games. Someday we'll stop hitting you over the head with Buffalo's defensive excellence, but not yet. Removing the games against top-ranked Virginia Tech and Penn State - both of which came with UB's defense depleted by injuries - the back line with Markiewicz holding down the right side only allowed eight goals over 20 games.
While Kristin did not show up on the individual stat sheet often this past season, she didn't need to. But she frequently possessed the ball high up the sideline, linking with the central midfielders and Julia Benati to build possession and chip away at opposing defenses.
Most notably, even though the stat sheet shows Therien, Roberts, and Hall, Markiewicz drew the yellow card during the MAC Championship game that eventually led to Jackie Hall's game-winning goal against Western Michigan. Between playing with a mask on due to injury and taking several huge hits throughout the season, she showed in 2014 to be one of the toughest ladies on the team.
Kristin Markiewicz just absorbed a body check from behind that sent her flying. Actually a bit surprised the ref blew her whistle. 85'— Bull Run (@UBBullRun) September 8, 2014
The Erie, PA native will once again look to pair with Jackie Hall and give head coach Shawn Burke the most dangerous defense in the Mid-American Conference. In the fullback position Markiewicz provides a punishing force in the UB half of the pitch and is a valuable passing option down the flank. When attacking, she can pin opposing fullbacks and wingers deeper into their own territory and help draw opposing players away from central midfield while the UB forwards take full advantage the space.
That's of course assuming she remains on the edge. We were unable to follow the spring schedule as we might like, but Markiewicz has the experience and ability to move inside and fill either the Sophie Therien- or Courtney Mann-sized holes in the center of UB's defense.
Off the pitch Markiewicz is another model student-athlete for the Women's Soccer team, named to the Academic All-MAC team after her junior year and was recently accepted into UB's Pharmacy program.