Mac Wheeler made five second half saves while John Pothast and the back line kept another four shots from even getting to Wheeler as the Marquette defense made Luka Prpa’s 23rd minute penalty kick stand up for a 1-0 win over DePaul in the season finale for the Golden Eagles.
It was Senior Night for both Wheeler and Pothast, the only two seniors on the MU roster this season. The duo got to go out on a high note after what has been a somewhat difficult season for Marquette. The Golden Eagles wrap up the 2016 campaign with a record of 5-7-4 overall and 2-5-2 in Big East play. While that is kind of a kick in the pants, it is a bit better than last season, when MU was 5-10-2 and 1-7-1 in league action.
This season has been largely a building exercise for the Golden Eagles, and if you want to have a positive mindset for the future, look no further than Prpa. The freshman midfielder drew the foul for his own PK in the 23rd minute before easily sending the kick home to the left side for the game’s only goal.
It was Prpa’s 10th goal of the year, the most goals scored by any Marquette player since C. Nortey had 10 back in 2013. Prpa’s goal gave him 26 points on the year, which gave him the second best total in the Big East this season behind Providence’s Julian Gressel. It’s also the best point total by any Golden Eagle since Chris Lee posted 30 points in 2003. Prpa has to be the leader for the conference’s Freshman of the Year award, although Butler’s Lewis Suddick made a late push with two goals on Thursday night to finish with 24 points on the season.
With the win, Marquette managed to avoid a last place finish, scooting one point in front of Seton Hall. DePaul caught a massive break even though Marquette got the best of them at Valley Fields, as Creighton blasted Georgetown 3-0 in Omaha. That allowed DePaul to hang on to the sixth and final Big East tournament berth.
We wrap up with a big THANK YOU to both John Pothast and Mac Wheeler. As redshirt seniors, both men have been a part of the Marquette roster for two of the three NCAA tournament appearances in program history. While the last few seasons have been a bit of a letdown from that two year run of high points, Marquette fans everywhere appreciate the hard work and effort by both of MU’s seniors to keep pushing forward and getting better every day. No one exemplifies this more than Wheeler, who spent three years behind MU great Charlie Lyon at keeper, but kept working hard to put himself in position to push Luis Barraza for minutes over the last two seasons. Thank you to both men for everything that you’ve done for Marquette, and we wish you all the best in the future.