Playing the final 17 minutes down a man? PFFFFFT. Marquette men’s soccer still found a way to tally four goals on the night to defeat Northwestern 4-1 on Monday. The Golden Eagles are now 3-1-0 on the season, and freshman midfielder Luka Prpa is leading the country in assists with five and points with 15.
What a weird season, and it’s only four matches old.
Let’s deal in just facts to start with. Marquette, coming off back to back four goal outings, got out to an early lead on the Wildcats thanks to a finish from Toby Howell.
First Half Highlight: Howell finishes a perfect cross from M. Alba to put MU ahead 1-0 in the 18' #NCAASoccer https://t.co/FPk5auRju4— Marquette Soccer (@marquettesoccer) September 6, 2016
That lead stood up through halftime and the Golden Eagles tacked on quickly in the second half. Diego Núńez scored his first career goal on a terrific run to the net that ended up unmarked because the defense was focusing on defending striker Jan Maertins in front of him.
HIGHLIGHT: Núñez scores his first career goal to put Marquette ahead 2-0 at home against Northwestern! #NCAASoccer https://t.co/dcHQzmFZDL— Marquette Soccer (@marquettesoccer) September 6, 2016
The Núńez goal was his first of the season and, as a first year collegiate player, his first career goal as well. It also extended Prpa’s point streak to three matches, as he was given the secondary helper on the goal after playing a terrific pass to the wing for Howell to cross in to the net.
MU was in firm control of the match at that point. They had a 2-0 lead and were outshooting Northwestern 8-3 and the Wildcats hadn’t even put a shot on goal. Things stayed that way until the 73rd minute. Usually I’d drop the full match highlights package from GoMarquette.com in at the end of the recap, but we need it here. Skip ahead to the 0:47 mark.
So yeah. Marquette goalkeeper Mac Wheeler was given a straight red card for whatever the hell that was. Yes, I know the referee showed it to Northwestern’s Elo Ozumba. Yes, I know Ozumba reacted like the card was on him. He even walked all the way off the pitch to the NU bench. A five minute long conversation between Wheeler and the referee (who was wildly behind the play, although I don’t blame him for that) ensued, and eventually Wheeler was sent off. I really don’t think Wheeler made contact with Ozumba, and if you watch Wheeler, I’m nearly positive that he didn’t even make contact with the ball to get a card for playing it outside the 18 yard box. I understand the idea that if the ref decided there was a foul that it has to be a red, but if Wheeler’s in the box playing the ball, isn’t he allowed a certain amount of leeway as the keeper?
Northwestern scored on the penalty kick and it was 2-1 with 17 minutes left. The Golden Eagles would have to play the final stretch with just 10 men and without Wheeler, who has still yet to allow a goal in 2016. The Wildcats were able to mount some offense pressure for the first time all game, but Marquette showed resolve and determination to continually turn away Northwestern’s chances.
Then, in the final six minutes of the match, we entered what could be called the “Ball Don’t Lie” segment of our show. First, Ben Tweedie scored his first goal of the season and his career thanks to some terrific but uncredited work from Prpa. Feel free to watch his spin move at the start of the video over and over.
HIGHLIGHT: Ben Tweedie nets his first career goal with this beautiful bender in the 85th that put MU up 3-1. https://t.co/3U1fPe5p5M— Marquette Soccer (@marquettesoccer) September 6, 2016
Then, in the 87th, Prpa turned his points streak into a goal streak after using some sly body mechanics to open space and beat NU’s Francisco Tomasino and chase him from the match. With 3:47 remaining. Yeah.
Three straight matches with at least 3 points for @luka_prpa as he nets this goal to go along with one assist! https://t.co/Ak2AdFntAI— Marquette Soccer (@marquettesoccer) September 6, 2016
I still have no idea what Wheeler was red carded for, but I do know that he will serve a one game suspension for the card by NCAA rule. That doesn’t affect Marquette all that much, as head coach Louis Bennett would have swung the keeper rotation back to Barraza anyway. Barraza allowed the PK immediately upon entering the game, but didn’t even have to make a save to keep the Wildcats off the board for the remainder of the game.
Prpa, who was named Big East Offensive Player of the Week and Freshman of the Week on Monday, now has 15 points on five goals and five assists. He’s averaging more than a goal and an assist per game, but I have no idea how long he can keep this up. Logic would seem to dictate that he can’t, but Northwestern knew what he did last week and still let him score with three minutes left in a 3-1 game where they had a man advantage.
Up Next: The Golden Eagles will be down in Missouri for that next match. They’ll face Saint Louis on Saturday, with match time scheduled for 7pm Central. The Billikens are 1-1-1 on the season after drawing with Tulsa on Sunday.