Marquette came into Friday afternoon's men's soccer match against DePaul with a record of 6-1-1 in Big East play, while the Blue Demons were 0-7-1. All Marquette had to do was come away from Lincoln Park in Chicago with a win and they would be the Big East regular season champions.
When freshman Quentin Low made his collegiate debut by replacing Eric Sorby in net for DePaul in the eighth minute because Sorby appeared to have broken his finger, things were looking pretty solid for the Golden Eagles.
And then Art Garza headed in a long pass from Jared Blincow, and the Blue Demons led 1-0 in the 24th minute. That's sub-optimal. But never fear, here's leading scorer C. Nortey to even things at one in the 29th minute. Ok, no problem. 60 minutes left to play, pretend it's a brand new game, just ignore the already conceded goal.
Unfortunately, Koray Yesilli had different ideas. In the 33rd minute, the junior defender got a header of his own past MU keeper Charlie Lyon, and DePaul led 2-1. That score held til halftime, and that's when the game changed.
In the first half, Marquette was whistled for seven fouls compared to six for the Blue Demons. In the second half, MU had eight fouls, while DePaul was whistled for THIRTEEN fouls and issued FIVE yellow cards. Only four of the cards were on field players, as the fifth was assessed to the Blue Demon bench. Four of the cards were issued in a 15 minute span in the middle of the second half. There's only one conclusion here: DePaul went to the locker room and said "there is no chance in hell we're winning this game, so start mugging those guys." And they did.
And it worked. Marquette went from seven shots in the first half to just one in the second, and it wasn't even a shot on goal. DePaul decided they would rather play ugly, desperate soccer to preserve a win than try anything resembling sportsmanship and honor. Their choice, I guess.
Luckily, Marquette's day wasn't technically over. While the Golden Eagles were impeded by DePaul's physicality from having a chance at securing a league title on their own, the universe eventually rewarded Marquette. Georgetown won their game against Villanova, pulling the Hoyas into a tie with MU in first place in the Big East. Then, in the last regular season game on the schedule, Butler beat Xavier 2-1, thereby putting Xavier in third place and handing the regular season crown to Marquette and Georgetown to share.
The title is the second regular season championship for Louis Bennett and Marquette in the last three seasons. By way of their 1-0 overtime win over MU, Georgetown will be the #1 seed in the Big East tournament, while Marquette will still get a bye to the semifinals as the #2 seed.
Up Next: Marquette will head to PPL Park in Philadelphia to face the winner of the #3 seed Xavier vs #6 seed Butler quarterfinal match in the Big East semifinals next week Friday. Marquette beat both the Musketeers and the Bulldogs during the regular season.