Thanks to another rousing night from freshman midfielder Luka Prpa, Marquette men’s soccer beat Illinois-Chicago by a final of 4-1 on Friday night. Prpa either scored or assisted on all four Golden Eagles goals as MU moved to 2-1-0 to start the 2016 season.
Things didn’t start out so nice for the Golden Eagles, as UIC bolted down the field and scored on a far post strike by Jose Fuentes just 31 seconds into the match. It was an ominous sign to see sophomore keeper Luis Barraza give up such a quick goal after allowing four in the season opener against Kentucky, but that sense of gloom quickly wore off.
Prpa started his night just over three minutes later, putting the ball in the net on a mess that was originally credited to Daniel Szczepanek. Prpa then found fellow freshman Jan Maertins out in the middle of the box with less than a minute to go before halftime, sending MU to the locker room full of enthusiasm and carrying a 2-1 lead.
The Flames outshot the Golden Eagles, 9-7, after halftime, but that may be just because Marquette backed off with a three goal lead. MU tacked on two goals on their first five shots of the second half to put the game out of reach, then only took two more shots in the final 32 minutes. Toby Howell scored a terrific marker off a Prpa pass in the 55th minute for the first strike of his collegiate career before Prpa took advantage of another mess in front of the UIC net to collect his second goal and sixth point of the match less than four minutes later.
After his opening minutes blues, Barraza turned in a quality performance. He stopped four shots total, with three of those coming after MU was up 4-1 and two of those were in the final seven minutes of the game.
Up Next: Marquette returns to Milwaukee after another game full of firepower with an eye on Northwestern for Monday night. The Wildcats are 1-2-0 on the season after losing 2-1 to Denver on Friday night. It’s National Cheese Pizza Day on Monday, so that means all the students in attendance will get - wait for it - FREE PIZZA for the 7:05pm start.