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Marquette Men's Soccer Splits Opening Weekend Trip To Oregon

A heartbreaker in Corvallis, a dominant performance in Portland.

Kelmend Islami's return to active status has already paid dividends for Marquette soccer.
Kelmend Islami's return to active status has already paid dividends for Marquette soccer.

Over the weekend, Marquette men's soccer started their season with two games in Oregon.  They lost the season opener on Friday in overtime to Oregon State, 1-0, and picked up their first win of the season on Sunday against Portland, 4-2.

Marquette found themselves under fire from the get go against the Beavers on Friday.  Oregon State outshot Marquette 12-5 in the opening half, forcing freshman goalie Luis Barraza to make five saves in the first 45 minutes of his collegiate career to keep the game scoreless.  Things would even out a bit in the second half, but it was still Oregon State carrying the advantage and testing Barraza and Marquette's defense.  Three of their eight shots in the half would find their way on net, compared to none of Marquette's four tries.

This isn't to say that Marquette wasn't without their chances.  Martin Alba, making his first ever collegiate appearance, clanged a shot off the post just after the start of the second half and had another solid attempt fly just wide in the 79th minute.

The game may have turned against Marquette for good in the 84th minute, when redshirt sophomore defender Jack Alberts was issued his second yellow card of the match for what the referee determined to be a dangerous high challenge, leaving with Marquette with only 10 men for the remainder.  On top of that, the lineup was already discombobulated by an injury suffered by starting center back Danny Jarosz.

Even down a man, Marquette had scoring chances as regulation expired, and then, in the 94th minute, what was probably their best chance of the night.  A C. Nortey cross was aimed at the head of freshman Jesper Larsson, but it didn't connect.  It did, however, land at the feet of senior Kelmend Islami, but his shot was cleared away by the OSU defense.  That set the table for Oregon State's Mikhail Doholis to rifle a shot in the 97th minute just far enough away from Barraza that Doholis had to settle for a carom off the post and in for the game winning goal.

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Marquette lost as late as you can lose against Oregon State, but they got the goal scoring started early against Portland on Sunday, and by "they," I mean Kelmend Islami.  Making up for his lack of a game winner in the 94th minute against OSU, the redshirt senior knocked in a brace of goals before 15 minutes had wound off the clock.

The first came in the 6th minute, when John Pothast sent a deep throw in over to the far post.  While Pothast gets the assist, Islami was Johnny-on-the-spot and headed it home for Marquette's first goal of the 2015 season.  In the 14th minute, Nortey sent a ball into a racing Islami who danced around the Pilots' defense and sent his shot into the bottom right corner of the net.

Marquette wasn't done in the first half.  Jake Taylor came all the way up the left side in the 31st minute and crossed a ball back into the middle.  David Selvaggi knew he wasn't going to be able to send a shot on net, so he kept the ball's momentum going to a waiting Alex McBride, who sent it home for what would turn into the eventual game winning goal.

Portland would carve one back before halftime, when Brandon Zambrano knocked home a rebound that Barraza couldn't control cleanly for UP's first goal of the season.  Marquette would push the lead back to three goals right after halftime when Nortey knocked home a ball that Larsson sent towards the net.  Portland wrapped up the scoring on a corner kick, when Hugo Rhodes smashed a ball past Barraza before the freshman netminder was even able to pick it up.

Portland wasn't without their chances to get a little closer as the game wore on.  Mac Wheeler substituted in for Barraza with about 20 minutes left in the game, and ended up having to make one of the more spectacular plays you'll see from a keeper immediately upon entering.  Wheeler attempted to clear a ball away from an oncoming attacker at the top of the 18 yard box, but in the process smashed it into the UP player's foot and up into the air.  Wheeler then had to do his best impression of a centerfielder in baseball dealing with harsh winds as he chased down the pop fly and slid to the turf before he got to the goal line.

Up Next: Marquette returns to Milwaukee for their next contest, but it won't be the home opener.  They'll be across town at Englelmann Field to take on UW-Milwaukee in the 43rd Milwaukee Cup.  Match time is set for 7pm on Thursday, September 3rd.