On a blustery evening in Milwaukee, Providence scored three times in the second half, including the game winner just 16 seconds after Marquette had drawn level with the Friars, as PC defeated the Golden Eagles 4-3.
Even though the wind was coming out of the west all match long, five of the match's seven goals were scored on the western end of Valley Fields. The first goal wasn't, though, as Providence opened up the scoring in the 19th minute. Marquette keeper Luis Barraza went out to defend Manny Andrade as he advanced towards the net, leaving Andrade the opportunity to slip a pass past Barraza and through to Mac Steeves, who only had to tap it in for the opening marker.
Marquette would bounce back with two goals to take a 2-1 lead at intermission, and both goals came off the foot of senior forward Kelmend Islami. First, he snapped a brilliant bending ball into the wind and into the upper right 90 of the net from 18 yards out, somehow finding the slot between the top of a PC defender's head and the leaping reach of PC keeper Ben Seguljic. Islami's second goal would come less than four minutes later, when Seguljic didn't want to take a second chance on an Islami shot from the top of the box. Seguljjic charged Islami and leapt into the air to stop the shot attempt, except the senior from South Milwaukee had already corrected for the defense attempt. Islami merely lofted the ball towards the net simply, and let it easily bounce into the unattended goal for his team leading eighth marker of the season.
The Golden Eagles had to feel pretty good how the first half went, but that emotion was wiped out in the first four minutes and 10 seconds of the second half. Providence scored twice, once from Klisman Sousa and once from Julian Gressel, to take a 3-2 lead. Both goals were products of clutter around Barraza and his net, as neither the freshman keeper nor his defense were able to get clearances on balls that were just deflecting off everything in sight.
Things were looking bad for Marquette from that point on, as it started to feel like the season was slipping away from them. The match was evenly spread as far as shots go between the two teams, but as the Valley Fields clock slowly clicked up towards 90:00, things just felt more and more grim.
Then, in the 86th minute, Louis Bennett II sent a golden ray of sunshine towards the net. With the ball sailing undefended by Providence, senior striker C. Nortey deployed the Human Torpedo and sacrificed his entire body to smash a header past Seguljic and knot the match at three goals apiece.
It was an amazing goal to see and it meant nothing 16 seconds later. Providence stormed down the field on the ensuing restart, and in somewhat of a mirror to their first goal, Gressel fed Dominik Machado out in front of the net for an easy tap in and the game winning goal. Not only was it kind of familiar looking from the way it played out amongst the PC attackers, both Providence's first and last goal resulted in John Pothast splayed out on the turf wondering what had gone wrong.
That loss stings. With the loss, Marquette drops to 1-5-1 in league play, and their four points in the table keep them in ninth place. As the standings sit right now, Providence and DePaul are tied for fifth, meaning that their 10 points is also the number attached to the sixth and final Big East tournament slot. The good news is that Marquette closes the season with the Blue Demons, and thus, they're not mathematically eliminated at this point.
Highlights, such as they are, courtesy of the Big East Digital Network:
Up Next: The bad news is that Marquette has to beat Butler on Saturday night in order to have a chance to stay alive for the postseason. Saturday night's match at Valley Fields will the home finale for the season one way or another, and the Bulldogs (8-4-3, 4-3-0 Big East) come in having won just two of their last six matches and suffered a 1-0 loss to DePaul on Wednesday night. Thanks for nothing, Butler.