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ROXANA – In a non-conference soccer game Monday afternoon, the Roxana Shells hosted the Marquette Catholic Explorers.

It was the Explorers who improved to 5-1 on the season after a decisive 7-1 win over the Shells.

Marquette dominated possession throughout the first half but couldn’t piece things together in the final third. Senior midfielder Caroline Stephan had a shot pushed wide by Roxana senior goalkeeper Kaylyn Dixon in the 13th minute.

A few minutes later, a little upset with his teams’ focus, Marquette head coach Brian Hoener pulled his starters.

“I didn’t like our focus for the first 20 minutes or so. I just thought we weren’t as engaged as we should be,” Hoener said.

The players that came off the bench, many from the JV team, were supposed to play following the varsity game but it was canceled due to some Illness on Roxana’s side.

Either way, those bench players kept up the pace, but still couldn’t find the back of the net, mainly in part to some nice goalkeeping from Dixon who was all over the place in the first half.

Hoener put his starters back in some 12 minutes later and they immediately went back to work.

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The work paid off and the Explorers were able to put one home in the 35th minute. Stephan wouldn’t be denied a second time after scoring off a half-breakaway. It was enough to give Marquette the 1-0 lead heading into halftime.

Coming back onto the field for the final 40 minutes, the Explorers looked like a new team. Three goals in three minutes to open things off set the tone for what would be a runaway win.

“They were doing the right things,” Hoener said. “I just wanted them to do it a little bit harder, a little bit faster, and quicker and I thought we started to do that for portions in the second half and kind of opened the game up.”

The Explorers scored five straight to make it 6-0 in the 62nd minute. Roxana got a consolation goal from their leading scorer junior forward Kendall Kamp. She put home her 16th goal of the season to prevent being shut out. Marquette’s final goal came with two minutes left to make it a 7-1 final.

Marquette’s goals came from Stephan, senior midfielder Aela Scruggs, senior defender Kylie Murray, sophomore forward Ella Anselm twice in a row, freshman midfielder Abby Anselm, and freshman midfielder Maddie Waters, in that order.

Hoener gave credit to Roxana and said that their work rate kind of threw his team off in the early goings.

“They came out hard and competed. They were well organized, and their goalkeeper played fantastic today.”

This continues Marquette’s best start to a season since 2011-12 when they also started out 5-1.

That good start will be put to the test on Thursday when they head north to Quincy. The Explorers will take on defending Class 1A state champions, Quincy Notre Dame. QND is off to a 6-2-1 start this season and is coming off an 8-0 win over Piasa Southwestern.

Hoener looks forward to the tough competition with the game kicking off at 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 6, at Quincy Notre Dame High School.

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