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Three Questions For Men's Soccer

We wrap up our preview series for the nationally ranked men's soccer team in 2014 with a few questions about the upcoming season.

The 50th season of Marquette soccer may depend on the educated feet of C. Nortey.
The 50th season of Marquette soccer may depend on the educated feet of C. Nortey.

1) Can they repeat?

Well, a section of the Big East coaches certainly thinks so.  Four of the non-Louis Bennett coaches in the Big East picked Marquette as their preseason favorite.  Georgetown ended up with five first place votes, but the Hoyas and the Golden Eagles ended up tied atop the table at the end.  The conclusion that I'm drawing from this is that the coaches that picked Georgetown put Marquette second, while the coaches that put Marquette first DID NOT have the Hoyas finishing second, which allowed the tie to occur.

But whether Marquette can accomplish the task of winning a second consecutive regular season title and/or a second consecutive Big East tournament title most likely lies in the next two questions...

2) Will Charlie Lyon break the all time shutouts record?

From 1995-1998, Jim Welch posted 26 career shutouts.  Charlie Lyon has recorded 10 shutouts each of the last two seasons to give him 20 for his career.  With another 10 this season, Lyon will go roaring past Welch easily this season.

It took until the 12th match of the season for Lyon to get his sixth of the year last year, and he picked up his seventh with the very next match.  The 12th match this season is at Butler on October 15th, and Marquette returns home on Saturday, October 18th, to face Villanova.

It's possible that Marquette's early going last season was affected by Bryan Ciesiulka missing time due to injury, as MU's defense got much stouter once he returned.  However, Ciesiulka is gone to graduation this season, and Lyon and the defense in front of him gave up four goals in the final two exhibition games.  Against Wright State on Saturday, the other 10 guys on the field at the time were the same 10 that started and you'd expect to start for the rest of the season.  In the Ohio State game on Friday, MU scored first, but then gave up two quick goals.  The starters were on the field for the first goal, and Alex McBride had been subbed off for Luis Trude when the second went in.

In both cases, Marquette allowed two goals in the first 30 minutes of the game.  That's a bad recipe for winning games, much less trying to get your keeper an all-time program record.  Was the defense a bit more experimental in the exhibition games?  Are they trying to get some things figured out before the season starts?  Is it a matter of trying to re-align some new pieces into the system?  All valid questions, and we're going to get a heck of a view as to how close the defense is right off the bat, seeing as the first match of the season is against Notre Dame, the preseason #1 team in the country.

3) Who is going to help C. Nortey?

In 2013, Marquette won seven games by a score of 1-0.  That's more than half of the 13 wins that the team recorded on the year.  Two of them were won by goals from now departed seniors.  One was from current sophomore Louis Bennett, one was from current sophomore Coco Navarro on a pass from a now departed senior, and the remaining three were from Nortey.

The odds of things makes it severely unlikely MU will be able to repeat this run of luck, especially with three of those wins coming in overtime.  In addition to these 1-0 wins, Marquette lost two games by a score of 1-0, including an overtime contest with Georgetown that would have ended up giving MU sole claim to first place at the end of the season.

So Nortey's going to need help.  Where's it going to come from?  The obvious answer is Bennett, who finished tied for second on the team in goals last season with four.  Navarro was right behind him with three, so that could provide a potent combination for the Golden Eagles.  But those guys were out there last year, as all three men played in all 21 matches and all played in more than 1600 minutes.  Our gaze now turns to redshirt junior forward David Selvaggi, who had a filthy scoring touch in his first year at DePaul and recorded a goal in all three exhibition matches this season and chipped in an assist on a Nortey goal against Ohio State, too.