Freshman midfielder Luka Prpa scored his ninth goal of the season and extended his point streak to four matches very late, but the Golden Eagles could not find an equalizer in the final stretch as they lost 2-1 to Providence on Wednesday night. MU drops to 1-4-2 in Big East play this season and maintains their position in ninth place in the league standings.
With two matches left to play, the Golden Eagles trail the sixth and final conference tournament spot by four points. If they didn’t need wins in all of their final matches before Wednesday night, they absolutely need them now.
Providence got their offense in gear early, taking the first three shots of the game and scoring on that third shot in the 18th minute. They caught a bit of a break as Brendan Constantine’s shot from outside the box caught a bit of John Pothast standing on the 18 yard box line on its way in, deflecting away from keeper Luis Barraza and into the net. Providence kept the pressure up in the first half, outshooting MU 7-2, and it paid off in the 36th minute. Julian Gressel drew Barraza out of his net to play the angle, but Danny Griffin was wandering in on the left side of the net for Gressel to make the easy pass for the wide open shot. God bless Martin Alba’s effort to try to occupy as much space as possible in the net, but when he can’t play it with his hands, there’s not much he can do.
With the Friars holding a 2-0 advantage in the match, things did twist in Marquette’s favor in terms of shots in the second half. They outshot the Friars 7-3 and outdid them on corners as well, 3-1. Unfortunately, they didn’t end the shutout until the 78th minute when Prpa collected a nifty and alert pass from Daniel Szczepanek and slipped one through a collection of bodies and past PC keeper Colin Miller.
Marquette kept the pressure on in the final 12 minutes, but couldn’t find an equalizer. Their best chance may have come off the foot of freshman Jan Maertins, but Miller was able to literally sit down on the ball and stop it from sliding through his legs for the game tying goal.
Prpa now has four goals and an assist in the last four matches to bring his season totals to nine goals, six assists, and 24 points. That’s the most goals recorded by a Golden Eagle since C. Nortey’s 10 markers in 2013, the most assists since Louis Bennett II had six in 2014, and the most points since Andy Huftalin had 24 in 2012. The next points target for the freshman star is the 30 that Chris Lee had way back in 2003.
How about some highlights, courtesy of Providence athletics and the Big East Digital Network?
Up Next: Marquette moves into desperation mode when they travel to Butler on Saturday night. The #15 ranked Bulldogs (9-5-1, 4-2-0 Big East) got clipped in double overtime on Wednesday afternoon by DePaul when Zach El-Shafei scored the only goal of the match with five seconds remaining in extra time.