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9.5 Men's Soccer Weekend Preview: The Panther Invitational

WOOOO HOME OPENER WEEKEND

It's UWM's tournament, but Marquette won't play the Panthers until September 17th.
It's UWM's tournament, but Marquette won't play the Panthers until September 17th.
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Cards on the table time: Yes, Marquette is 0-2-0 after the first weekend of action.  No, that's not particularly great.  Yes, it is not entirely unsurprising, as Notre Dame was the preseason #1 team in the country and defending national champions and Indiana was the 2012 national champions.

Now, what was a problem is that Marquette went 180 minutes of soccer with just one goal to show for their efforts.  Even worse, the lone goal came from junior striker C. Nortey, and the Golden Eagles desperately need to get other players involved in the scoring this season.  Part of the problem against Indiana last Sunday may have been a bit of an injury bug, as Marquette was without the services of Alex McBride, Luis Trude, and Martin Alba.  All three are midfielders in their first season with the Golden Eagles, but all three are expected to make significant contributions to the squad in 2014.

Now that we've got all of that out of the way, we can start trying to figure out how and/or why Marquette is managing to play two games at Valley Fields as a part of UWM's tournament.

Match #3: vs Gonzaga (0-1-0)

When: Friday, September 5, 2014, at 5pm Central
Where: Valley Fields
Audio/Visual: Home matches means free live video streaming.  Live stats should be here.
Special Promotions: Free pizza for the first 150 students! Plus kids can bring their Fan Fest scorecards to get in for free, and any students that are new to Marquette can pick up a Birdcage orientation packet from the marketing table. Also, you could get a chance to win tickets to see The Black Keys, if Sebastian Jansson can be trusted.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteSoccer

Go figure, in the second year of the New Big East, after Gonzaga was left out because of the travel issues involved, the Bulldogs come to the Valley for soccer.

As is the case with Marquette, you can't really put a lot of blame on Gonzaga for losing their opener.  They took the field against #4 Washington and got waxed, 4-0.  They gave up an own goal and two penalty kicks in the game, with the fourth goal coming on a volley of a free kick.  That's pretty much the quadruple whammy of horrible goals allowed, and all of this was made worse by the game being played on the Zags' home pitch.

Gonzaga was picked to finish 6th in the eight team West Coast Conference this season, but that's not really a ringing endorsement, as Pacific is participating in men's soccer for the first time since 1985 and was picked last by every single coach in the conference.  Senior forward Clark Phillips is the Bulldogs' lone representative on the preseason all-conference team after leading the team with 19 points on nine goals and one assist in 2013.  The official box score from the Washington game lists Chris Lowrimore as only playing 45 minutes, but does charge him with all four goals, so I presume that Marquette will see the redshirt junior from Sandy, Utah, in net on Friday evening.

Match #4: vs Oregon State (2-0-0)

When: Sunday, September 7, 2014, at 12pm Central
Where: Valley Fields
Audio/Visual: Home matches means free live video streaming.  Live stats should be here.
Special Promotions: Double Fanatics points for students that attend the match, plus $1 root beer floats! 
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteSoccer

The Beavers come in undefeated on the season after winning the Portland Nike Invitational for the second consecutive year.  They picked up a 3-1 win over Evansville and a relatively easy 1-0 win over Central Florida, or at least as easy as 1-0 wins can get.  The Beavers outshot the Knights 22-6 in that one, including a 13-2 advantage in the opening half.  As nice of a start to the season that is, Oregon State was still the unanimous choice to finish dead last in the Pac12 this season.  This isn't really a cheap shot at them, as there's only six of the 12 teams in the conference playing men's soccer, and second, three of the teams are currently ranked in the top 25 with UCLA (#1) and Washington (#4) both residing in the top five.

I am now going to cut and paste in two segments directly from OSU's own preview page for their season opener.

Redshirt-junior goalkeeper Matt Bersano will look to continue building on a strong 2013 season. The Tempe, Ariz., native set the Oregon State record with 101 saves last season. Bersano allowed just 1.14 goals per game in his sophomore year, and posted five shutouts on his way to Second Team All-Pac-12 honors.

Senior forward Khiry Shelton is looking to end his collegiate career on  a high note. The Texan led the Beavers with four goals last year, despite missing nine games due to injury. His season was highlighted by a brace against Air Force on September 15. Shelton will look to score his 10th career goal this weekend.

I don't know about you, but I'm used to seeing goals-against averages below 1.00 when we start breaking out the "allowed just" phrase.  Also, I'm troubled by a guy missing half the season still managing to lead the team in goals.  Then again, Shelton had the same number of goals in his first three seasons at Oregon State as Marquette striker C. Nortey did during his freshman year.

Shelton and freshman forward Timmy Mueller both scored two goals for the Beavers last weekend and are tied for the early team lead.  Bersano injured his knee in the first half against Evansville and was replaced for the second half and all of the UCF game by freshman keeper Nolan Wirth.  The injury isn't believed to be serious, so there's a chance Bersano could be back in action by Sunday.