1) Is C. Nortey 100%?
In 2011, Nortey was a unanimous choice for the Big East All Rookie team after leading the Golden Eagles in both goals (9) and points (20). In 2012, he didn't play at all, due to rehab from offseason knee surgery. Knees can be a tricky injury, particularly in soccer, with the constant running and cutting, not to mention the defensive challenges. They can be even more devastating to a player like Nortey, who makes use of speed, quickness, and agility to make plays on the pitch. Whether he can return to form in his redshirt sophomore season remains to be seen, but it's safe to say that head coach Louis Bennett is confident in Nortey's fitness:
Oh yes the new 2013 blue kit... And YES Nortey's back WATCH OUT pic.twitter.com/fKi1RnRa94— Louis Bennett (@Loobe21) August 2, 2013
2) Can Charlie Lyon do it again?
In 2012, Lyon finished third in the Big East in goals-against average and second in save percentage, both outstanding performances. He also finished second in saves, which is less exciting than it sounds. Lyon ended the campaign with 87 saves, five behind Villanova's John Fogarty and five in front of Cincinnati's Taylor Hafling. The Wildcats went 12-6-2, but missed the NCAA tournament, while the Bearcats were 6-9-4.
While it's great that Lyon was able to make as many stops as he did, the fact remains that if you're making saves, that means opponents are putting shots on goal that you have to stop. If we look back to the 2011 season when Marquette won the Blue Division title, David Check was second in the conference in saves then as well. If the style of play that Bennett wants for the Golden Eagles is going to lead to a lot of chances for saves for Lyon, then he's going to need to repeat his outstanding play from 2012 for Marquette to have a successful 2013. The good news is that people smarter than me think Lyon can do it.
3) Will any newcomers make an impact on this team?
Or, possibly more accurately, will they have to? The Golden Eagles return nine of their starting eleven from their loss to Northwestern in the second round of the 2012 NCAA tournament, plus stellar sub Adam Lysak, who played over 1100 minutes in 2012. They also welcome back two players who missed all of 2012 with injuries: the aforementioned C. Nortey and Dennis Holowaty, who made 16 appearances with 11 starts as a freshman in 2011.
While that 12 man returning group will be called on to do most of the heavy lifting for Marquette, there are some standouts in the new players that may cause Bennett to have to make some hard choices regarding playing time and formations. The easy one to spot is junior Brady Wahl, who transferred in to Marquette from Ohio State back in January and is eligible to play immediately. The midfielder started in 33 of the 36 appearances he made in two seasons with the Buckeyes and last year was one of Top Drawer Soccer's 100 best upperclassmen in the country.
As for the freshmen, College Soccer News gives Marquette's recruiting class four and a half stars, with two players - Jose "Coco" Navarro and Louis Bennett II - in their top 150 individual rankings. The rest of the class is impressive with three 2012 NSCAA High School All-Americans amongst them, although I would expect keeper Kyle Gress to be a candidate for a redshirt this season.