For 42 minutes in the Valley on Friday night, Marquette men’s soccer looked like a reasonably competent team, one that might not be showing its overwhelming youth. When Napo Matsoso, the Conference USA Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, scored for Kentucky in the 43rd minute, it was a bit of a letdown to see the Golden Eagles have to take a 1-0 deficit into halftime.
You didn’t get an ominous feel for how this season might go for Marquette until Matsoso scored in the 45th minute, just 19 seconds short of halftime, on a ridiculous seeing eye laser beam of a shot to the far post. Those final 19 ticks disappeared, and it was a 2-0 Kentucky lead at the break. It might be one of those kinds of seasons, y’know?
The Wildcats, who are coming off two straight NCAA tournament appearances and are picked to win CUSA for a second straight year, emphasized their dominance over the Golden Eagles with two more goals in the second half. Alex Bumpus scored in the 55th minute, while Xahne Reid scored off a cross from Matsoso in the 89th minute to make it a 4-0 final in the season and home opener for Marquette.
Not great, to say the least.
But, this is the kind of thing that’s going to happen this season with 13 brand new players on the MU roster. Four of those guys earned spots in the starting 11 against Kentucky, and two more men started in their redshirt sophomore seasons after not playing all that much a year ago. If Marquette can eventually coalesce into something interesting as the season goes on, hopefully that opening 42 minutes of solid soccer can turn into 60, then into 90 by the end of the season.
That target may have been made a little harder to hit when sophomore midfielder Ruben Sanchez failed in his effort to continue after a hard tackle in the second half. He left the game gingerly walking and supported by two trainers, but we don’t have any further update on him yet. Sanchez was a mainstay for Marquette’s defense a year ago, earning a Big East Defensive Player of the Week award and being named to the conference’s all-freshman team at the end of the season.
Up Next: Marquette hosts Northern Illinois on Monday night as they continue the two match homestand to open the season. The Huskies started their season on Friday with a 1-1 draw on the road against SIU-Edwardsville. MU head coach Louis Bennett already told Jack Goods of the Marquette Wire that redshirt senior keeper Mac Wheeler will get the start for the Golden Eagles as he continues to figure out who Marquette’s #1 goalkeeper is this season. It was a predetermined decision and, at least according to Bennett, isn’t related to the four goals that sophomore Luis Barraza gave up against Kentucky.