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8.29 Men's Soccer Weekend Preview: vs #1 Notre Dame & at Indiana

The 50th season of Marquette men's soccer kicks off with a bang, as the Golden Eagles play two matches against the two most recent national champions.

Junior Adam Hermsen returns to provide experience on Marquette's back line.
Junior Adam Hermsen returns to provide experience on Marquette's back line.
Maggie Bean/

Marquette men's soccer is in Bloomington, Indiana this weekend to officially open the 2014 season.  They're participating in the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic, where their opponents will be the last two teams to win the NCAA championship.  Not an insignificant task by any means.  2013 may have been the most successful season in program history, as the Golden Eagles won their second Big East regular season title, their first Big East tournament title, and picked up the first NCAA tournament win in program history.

The deck is stacked for Marquette in 2014 with three preseason all-Big East performers: preseason Defensive Player of the Year and redshirt junior Axel Sjoberg, fellow redshirt junior and forward C. Nortey, and sophomore midfielder Louis Bennett II.  That doesn't even get into redshirt senior goalkeeper Charlie Lyon who, along with Nortey and Sjoberg, was recently named one of the 100 best college soccer players in the country by Top Drawer Soccer.

While Marquette starts the season ranked #12 in the country by the NSCAA and #11 by Soccer America, there is some reason for concern.  MU went 1-0-2 in three exhibition matches, and in each of the last two, they allowed two goals in the first 30 minutes of the match.  Center back John Pothast returns to the pitch after redshirting in 2013, and sophomore Jake Taylor is taking over the position on the back line vacated by the graduation of Paul Dillon.  It might take a little bit of gelling together before Marquette's defense is completely solid, but unfortunately for the team, they're not going to get much of a chance to iron on the kinks because their first match of the season is....

Match #1: vs #1/#1 Notre Dame (0-0-0)

When: Friday, August 29, 2014, at 4:00pm Central
Where: Armstrong Stadium in Bloomington, IN
Audio/Visual: Gods forbid that Indiana provide free streaming for a special event that they're hosting, so we're stuck with live stats only.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteSoccer

... against the defending national champions who are starting the season ranked #1 in the country and have won two straight IU Classics.  So yeah.

The Irish went 17-1-6 last season and return nine starters, plus 72% of their goal production.  They were picked to win the ACC this season, surprising no one.  What is surprising, though, is that somehow they weren't a unanimous favorite.  Heck, they weren't even a unanimous favorite to win the ACC's Coastal Division, which is slightly bonkers.  Not as bonkers as South Bend, Indiana, being declared to be "Coastal," but I digress.

In any case, junior midfielder Patrick Hodan had 11 goals and five assists last season to be the leading returning scorer this season.  That's just the fancy part of the package, though, as midfielder Nick Besler, the younger brother of US Men's Senior National Team center back Matt Besler, was the guy who landed on the 2013 all-ACC First Team.  Patrick Wall returns for a fifth season in South Bend after playing every minute in net for the Irish in 2013.  The Golden Eagles are familiar with Wall, as he was in net for a 3-1 Notre Dame win in the second to last regular season match of the 2012 season.

Match #2: at Indiana (0-0-0)

When: Sunday, August 31, 2014, at 1:00pm Central
Where: Armstrong Stadium in Bloomington, IN
Audio/Visual: Well, the match is being streamed on BTNPlus, so that's nice.  BTNPlus will set you back $10 for a month of video for a particular school or $15 for the whole conference.  Live stats will be here.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteSoccer

Yes, Indiana won the 2012 NCAA championship.  Yes, Indiana qualified for the 2013 NCAA tournament.  But on November 2, 2013, the Hoosiers were 5-11-1, including a shoddy 1-4 record in Big Ten matches.  They beat Northwestern 3-0 in the regular season finale to snag themselves a spot in the Big Ten tournament, which they then inexplicably won.  That earned them a trip to Akron in the first round, where they lost to the Zips, who eventually lost to Marquette in the second round.  Full circle!

There are 14 teams in the Big Ten, and only nine play men's soccer.  Please write your own joke.  Out of those nine, Indiana was picked to finish fifth this season.  Femi Hollinger-Janzen had the best point total amongst returners for Indiana after scoring five goals in 2013.  Redshirt junior Michael Soderlund had most of the work in net for Indiana in 2013, but sophomore Colin Webb played 75% of the minutes in their two exhibition matches this fall.  Redshirt junior Sean Weidman cleaned up the final 45 minutes for the Hoosiers in their 1-0 exhibition win over #6 Washington.  That sounds impressive, but they also lost 1-0 to Xavier in their other exhibition contest.