When Marquette beat Detroit 5-1 in exhibition play behind four goals from Jan Maertins, my reaction was “well, that was fun, but that’s not happening again this season.” That was meant as both “Maertins isn’t doing that again” as well as “Marquette’s offense isn’t going to explode for a four-goal victory again.” MU started the season with a 4-0 loss to Kentucky, somewhat reaffirming that concept.
Marquette promptly turned around and scored four goals of their own against both Northern Illinois and Illinois-Chicago. That’s quite the impressive scoring effort, made even more impressive because of where those goals have come from. Freshman midfielder Luka Prpa has scored or assisted on every Marquette goal this season.
His collegiate career is three games old and his 12 points (4G, 4A) in 2016 are more than anyone else on the 2015 roster except for Kelmend Islami, who totaled 17 points on eight goals and one assist. He’s one point away from tying C. Nortey’s total of 16 points in 2014, a season where Marquette’s chances at the NCAA tournament were cut short by a lack of offense. Prpa has more points than anyone but Nortey (22) did in 2013, the year where MU earned the first NCAA tournament victory in program history.
Going in to the UIC match, he was already the only player in the Big East with more than one assist. That’s still the case now, except Prpa has four against everyone else’s singular helper. He’s leading the Big East in points, goals, and assists.
In other words, Prpa is RIDICULOUS, and it’s only been 270 minutes.
Admittedly, this is probably not going to hold up all season. Teams are going to adjust and start defending the living hell out of Prpa. Hopefully, Prpa becomes such a gravity well for opposing defenses that everyone else, most notably Maertins, suddenly get much more free and available to start scoring goals like woah.
Presuming that head coach Louis Bennett is going to stick with his goalkeeper rotation, that means that redshirt senior Mac Wheeler will start Monday night’s game. Luis Barraza looked pretty good for Marquette after allowing a goal in the first 40 seconds of the UIC match, so Wheeler will need to put together another good outing after shutting out NIU in his first appearance of the year in order to impress Bennett.
Match #4: vs Northwestern (1-2-0)
When: Monday, September 5, 2016, at 7pm CT
Where: Valley Fields
Audio/Visual: GoMarquette.com has a free video stream for you, plus there’s live stats.
Special Promotions: FREE PIZZA for students because it’s National Cheese Pizza Day.
Twitter Updates: @marquettesoccer & @NUMensSoccer
Marquette holds a 16-5-1 all time record against Northwestern, although the Wildcats snapped a nine game MU winning streak in their most recent meeting.
You might think that starting out the season with a win over Florida Gulf Coast and losses to Santa Clara and Denver, all at home, isn’t a good way to go. You’d probably be right.
In Northwestern’s case, while it might not be good, I don’t think it can be described as surprising. The Wildcats went 7-9-2 a year ago, including a 3-4-0 record in conference play, which resulted in them being picked to finish last in the nine team Big Ten this season. It’s a far cry from the 2012 season, where Marquette and Northwestern met in the NCAA tournament.
The Big Ten does that goofball thing where they allow every team to name three “players to watch,” but at least with three games on the board, we can start to see how those guys are doing. One of NU’s trio, Nathan Dearth, plays on the defensive end, so he hasn’t showed up on the scoresheet while playing all but six minutes of the season. The other two guys have accounted for all three Wildcat goals. Brandon Medina has knocked in two, both coming in the win over FGCU, while Jeffrey Hopson scored a penalty kick equalizer before NU lost 2-1 to Denver in their most recent outing.
Junior Francisco Tomasino has played every minute in net so far, and he’s stopping 71% of shots on goal, which is probably good news for Northwestern’s defense. The bad news is probably that Tomasino is allowing 1.33 goals per 90 minutes, which is generally speaking, kind of high.