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Marquette Men’s Soccer Preview: vs UIC Flames

The Golden Eagles return to action as the middle game of a tripleheader at Valley Fields.

There’s no mascot pictures available, so here’s UIC’s logo. I know, it’s boring.

If you wanted to, you could make the argument that Marquette men’s soccer deserves to be 1-0-0 on the season right now instead of 0-1-0.

They lost their season opener to Kentucky on a goal scored with 1:54 left in overtime in a game where they outshot the Wildcats 10-7 in regulation. The Wildcats also committed 13 fouls in regulation vs just seven for the Golden Eagles. The flow of the game was, generally speaking, flowing in Marquette’s direction.

Except they couldn’t punch a goal through and when Luis Barraza was unfortunately caught off balance when a ball came back into the middle of the pitch right in front of the net, UK got the golden goal. So, 0-1-0 on the season.

It’s kind of a bummer. Things were looking pretty solid for the Golden Eagles after they dragged a 1-0 exhibition win out of a Loyola-Chicago team that should be, at the very least, the leading contender to win the Missouri Valley Conference this season. On the flip side, losing 1-0 in overtime on the road is way better than losing 4-0 at home like the Kentucky game that started off the 2016 campaign.

Marquette used 13 players in last Friday’s season opener. Six of them were not on the team a year ago. Five of those six were in the starting lineup for head coach Louis Bennett. While three of them were transfers and thus brimming with collegiate experience, it’s a tribute to Bennett and the coaching staff that they were able to pull a roster that was half-unfamiliar with each other into a cohesive unit that could keep a team scoreless for 98-plus minutes while also carrying an advantage in the pace of play. The next step is turning that quick coherence into wins.

Friday evening’s game will be the middle match of a tripleheader at Valley Fields. The women’s team is hosting their yearly Marquette Invitational, and the first match of that event, Loyola-Chicago vs Mercer, starts at 3pm. There will be roughly an hour between matches, but given the ease of transit for both Loyola fans and UIC fans to Milwaukee, it’s probably in your best interest to show up for this match a wee bit earlier than you think you need to show up. The third match is the MU women hosting Central Michigan, so be sure to stick around for that.

Match #2: vs Illinois-Chicago Flames (1-1-0)

Date: Friday, September 1, 2017
Time: 6pm Central
Location: Valley Fields
Live Stats: GameTracker
Special Promotions: Active military and veterans get in for free, while their family members pay just #2. Plus, there will be a PETTING ZOO for the kids.
Twitter Updates: @marquettesoccer

Marquette is 6-4-1 all time against UIC. The most recent meeting came in September of 2016, when the Golden Eagles scored a 4-1 victory in Chicago. This is the eighth time that the two squads have met this century, and UIC holds a 4-3 advantage in the previous seven contests.

Friday’s match brings together two teams that have played nothing but overtime games this season. Marquette’s lone match of the year so far was their overtime loss to Kentucky, while UIC has lost one and won another in extra time. Their first match of the season was a heartbreaker of a loss. #25 ranked Butler scored the lone goal of the match in the 95th minute in Indianapolis to send the Flames back to Chicago in defeat. Two days later, they hosted DePaul at Flames Field, and had to rally from down 2-0 on an own goal and a penalty kick in order to force the extra session. Things progressed into a second extra frame before Max Todd scored UIC’s only run of play goal of the season to give the Flames the win in the 106th minute.

It is kind of weird that Illinois-Chicago is starting their season with three straight Big East opponents, isn’t it?

Junior transfer Sawyer Jackman has played all of Illinois-Chicago’s minutes in net so far this season. He went 11-2-1 in two seasons at Florida Gulf Coast, including 9-1-1 last season which help propel the Eagles into the NCAA tournament. Jackman is a Chicagoland native, and has club experience with multiple current UIC players, so this is quite a different kind of transfer situation. He’s also the oldest of UIC’s four keepers on the roster, so this will be his starting spot to lose.

The Horizon League is set to be an insane conference this season. Oakland is the preseason favorite by vote of the league’s coaches. However, the Golden Grizzlies only edged out UIC by one point, 86-85, in the polling. Part of the narrow margin is because Oakland received just one first place vote while the Flames picked up six. More than half of the league thinks that UIC will win the Horizon League this season, but the math of it says that the rest of the coaches voted the Flames pretty far away from the top spot in order for Oakland to sneak in there.