For one brief, shining moment on Wednesday night, Marquette men’s soccer had stemmed the tide against #19 Creighton. A header on a free kick had leveled the match and with 10 minutes to go in regulation, anything was possible.
Well, for 34 brief, shining moments.
34 seconds after Leo Villa placed his noggin accurately underneath Josh Coan’s free kick from the left side, Creighton’s Sven Koenig slotted home what turned out to be the game winner in the Bluejays’ 2-1 win over the Golden Eagles.
So close to a point, perhaps even three with an ounce of luck, yet so far away.
Marquette falls to 5-8-1 on the season with a record of 3-3-1 in Big East contests. They still have 10 points, though, and after the conclusion of all of Wednesday night’s matches, that’s still good enough for fourth place in the conference table. They’re just three points clear of 7th place Seton Hall, and with only the top six teams in the league qualifying for the conference tournament, MU will still have some work to do in their final two matches of the season.
The first half was surprisingly one-sided. I don’t mean “surprisingly” as in “I can’t believe head coach Louis Bennett didn’t have Marquette better prepared.” I mean it as when the Big East Digital Network broadcast put up a graphic that said that Creighton was outshooting Marquette 10-1 a little bit past the half-hour mark, I was surprised to find that out. The match didn’t feel like it was that lopsided in terms of possession, and other than the breakdown on Creighton’s first goal, I though MU was playing fairly well.
So, let’s discuss the breakdown. Here’s the goal.
21' | Marquette thinks it has cleared the ball off the line, but Ziyad Fares will not be denied!— Creighton Men’s Soccer (@creightonmsoc) October 25, 2018
Great ball movement from Haakenson➡️Rydstrand➡️Fares leads to the goal!#GoJays pic.twitter.com/rOP8W0iNZ9
I don’t blame Luis Barraza from coming out that far to the side to play the ball. The issue was really that Luke Haakenson and Ziyad Fares were able to so easily scoot behind the Marquette defense as Joel Rydstrand played the ball through. The other issue is the seeming lack of insistence or urgency from Oliver Posarelli and Villa when Haakenson sends it towards the middle. I suppose that can be chalked up to the safer play is not putting a touch on it to avoid an own goal, but there needs to be better awareness of the fact that Fares is just waiting there to tip it in.
The first half ended with just the one goal scored, but the Jays had a 12-3 shot advantage. That ended up turning around in the second half as CU held just a 5-4 margin in the full final 45 minutes. As the half wore on, the BEDN broadcasters began talking about Creighton really needing to tack on to feel comfortable with this one, as Marquette was at least playing them even, if not even trending towards a goal.
When Josh Coan threw a free kick to the far post in the 79th minute, it seemed like Marquette’s best chance at an equalizer had gone past. Coan’s ball had fluttered over everyone out in front of the box and there were two Marquette attackers on the post seemingly ready to give it a taparoo past Creighton keeper Paul Kruse. But no, they couldn’t get a clean touch on it between the two of them, and Kruse wrapped it up.
It turns out that it wasn’t Marquette’s best chance. That came about a minute later.
It was short-lived, but check out the elation after @Leoskieee920 puts in this brilliant header off a spectacular @jcoan98 free kick to level the score in the 80th minute. #MarquetteSoccer pic.twitter.com/e6L1fbjEM8— Marquette Soccer (@marquettesoccer) October 25, 2018
Coan’s free kick came from about the same place as the previous attempt, but he left it a little shallower on the field. That allowed Villa to come up underneath it, elevate, and poke it home for the equalizer, and his first goal in a Marquette uniform.
And then, this.
Officially, Marquette would not mount another shot in the game. In fact, neither team did, but hey, if I’m managing the Jays, I’m telling them to not shoot the ball. Marquette did organize up one final offensive burst as the clock wound under 10 seconds, but ultimately, it was fruitless.
Luis Barraza finished with seven saves on the night, with six coming in the first half to limit the Bluejays to the lone goal in the opening stanza. The New Mexico native has been great in goal for the Golden Eagles this season, but MU will need another pair of strong performances from him to close out the regular season.
Up Next: Marquette heads to Indianapolis on Sunday afternoon to square off with Butler in the final road contest of the season for MU. The Bulldogs have six points in league action and could still even surpass the Golden Eagles in the standings if things shake out in the right direction for them. Butler is coming off of a 2-1 loss to Seton Hall on Wednesday night that has put them into do-or-die mode.