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Marquette Men’s Soccer Preview: The 2016 Milwaukee Cup

Can the Golden Eagles hang onto the cup for a third straight year?

NCAA Round One: Oklahoma University Sooners v University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers
10 year old pictures of UWM’s mascot, because that’s all in the hopper.
Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

For the 44th time in history, Marquette and UW-Milwaukee, crosstown rivals since 1973, will meet on the pitch to decide who is the best collegiate soccer team in the city.

The long history of the series has been dominated by the Panthers from the east side of town. They have a 28-11-4 all time edge, but that doesn’t tell the full story. Over the last 18 meetings, everything is at a standstill. Each side has won eight times and there have been two draws. Both of those draws have come in the last 11 years, or since Louis Bennett left UW-Milwaukee to become the head coach at Marquette. Since Bennett changed sides of the rivalry, things are locked in a dead heat at 4-4-2.

Marquette has the current upper hand, as they won possession of the Milwaukee Cup in 2014 thanks to a 2-0 win at Valley Fields. That match is particularly notable, as it was Charlie Lyon stoning a penalty kick attempt by UWM’s Laurie Bell that 1) kept the match scoreless with 20 minutes to play and 2) preserved Marquette’s shutout streak that would eventually become a program record streak at just over 800 minutes. That won the cup back to Marquette, but it was last year’s 1-1 draw at Engelmann Stadium that allowed MU to keep the cup for a second season for the first time since 2008-09.

This time around, Marquette will be looking to keep the cup for a third consecutive year for the first time since 1998-2000. If the Golden Eagles are successful in their endeavor, it will be just the third time in series history that MU has retained possession of the Milwaukee Cup for three straight years.

As for this season, Marquette comes into this match riding a four match unbeaten streak. They haven’t dropped a contest since the season opener against Kentucky, and were it not for some oddly chosen refereeing moments against Saint Louis last time out, we could have been talking about a four match winning streak right now.

That same Saint Louis match snapped the point and goal streaks by freshman midfielder Luka Prpa. No worries, though. Prpa is still tied for seventh in the country in goals (5) and tied for second in assists (5). His 15 points are also tied for second best in the country and again: this is AFTER not recording a point against Saint Louis.

Mac Wheeler returns from his one game suspension for a red card against Northwestern to man the Marquette net against the Panthers. Wheeler has been alternating games with sophomore Luis Barraza as the coaching staff wants to determine a #1 keeper by the start of Big East play. Coincidentally, Big East play starts on Saturday night, so this is Wheeler’s last chance to prove that he deserves the net going forward. He’s yet to allow a goal on the season in two starts, but give credit to the men in front of him for that: Wheeler has only made one save in 162+ minutes of action this season.

Oh, and this wouldn’t really be a Milwaukee Cup preview if we didn’t include the video of Sebastian Jansson’s buzzer beater game winner against UWM from 2012.

Match #6: vs UW-Milwaukee (1-3-0)

When: Wednesday, September 14, 2016, at 7pm
Where: Valley Fields
Audio/Visual: TWC SportsChannel has the TV broadcast in Milwaukee, plus live stats.
Special Promotion: The first 250 fans get a Marquette vuvuzela.
Twitter Updates: @marquettesoccer & @MKE_MSoccer

While Marquette is riding high even after a road draw with the Billikens, UWM is struggling to find reasons for optimism this season. They’ve dropped the last three matches since their season opener and they were shut out in their most recent loss, a 1-0 match on the road against UIC. That would be the same UIC team that Marquette beat 4-1 at Flames Field in Chicago.

That’s probably a bad sign for the Panthers.

Three men have done all the goal scoring for UWM, a team that was picked to finish sixth in the 10 team Horizon League. Reid Stevenson and Kostas Kotselas has both found the back of the net twice, while Francesco Saporito has three helpers on the year to go with his lone goal to lead the team in points.

Oliver Haslund started the first three matches of the season in net for UWM. He stopped 60% of shots on goal and posted a goals-against average of exactly 2.00, which is exactly bad. The freshman from Denmark gave way to redshirt freshman Sam Glass for UWM’s match against UIC, and I guess you could say Glass was fine. He made two saves in 90 minutes, but allowed the game’s only goal. Head coach Kris Kelderman has three freshman keepers and one redshirt freshman keeper on his roster and that is all of his options. I would presume that we’ll see Glass on Wednesday night in the Valley, but pretty much anything is possible at this point.