A wild 2018 postseason came to an end for Marquette men’s soccer on Sunday afternoon in the nation’s capitol, as #2 seeded Georgetown picked up the 2-0 victory over the #4 seeded Golden Eagles in the Big East conference tournament championship match. The Hoyas move on to the NCAA tournament as the Big East’s automatic bid, while Marquette’s season comes to an end with a record of 7-9-3.
Marquette survived through two wild rounds of penalty kicks in the Big East quarterfinals and semifinals to earn the trip to Shaw Field on Georgetown’s campus on Sunday, but even a chance at another shootout escaped them. It was one of the best defenders in the Big East that ultimately spelled doom for the Golden Eagles, as Brendan McDonough scored his first goal of the season in the 11th minute to put the defending champs up 1-0.
All credit to the Hoyas, as you could not possibly draw up a more textbook looking corner kick and header goal. Kyle Zajec’s launch had perfect velocity and bend and McDonough timed his leap perfectly to snap the ball back across the net where MU keeper Luis Barraza had no chance to do anything with it. Partisan feelings aside, that’s a beautiful goal.
The Hoyas would hold that lead to halftime while outshooting Marquette 6-3. All things considered, that’s a perfectly acceptable performance from the Golden Eagles. Everything went absolutely perfect for the Hoyas for four seconds and they scored, but that was it. If MU could just muster up their own four seconds of perfection, who knows what could happen in the second half?
Things started off aiming in that direction. Marquette recorded the first five shots of the half in the first 21 minutes and added two corner kicks to their list of attempts as well. At the very least, things appeared to be trending in Marquette’s direction..... except.... well...
You can’t particularly blame Steffen Bohm for the intercept, but he tipped the pass right to the feet of Achara. Barraza had already adjusted to the direction the original pass went and couldn’t bounce back to make a play on Georgetown’s first shot of the half in the 70th minute.
2-0, 20 minutes to go.
Bohm himself would get perhaps Marquette’s best chance to break up the clean sheet in the 78th minute, forcing Giannis Nikkopolidis to make his third save of the game to keep Marquette out of the net. Other than that, a handful of fouls for the Golden Eagles as they fought for advantages to make a play and a wide left shot from Diego Nunez in the 85th minute was all that remained for Marquette on this day.
Look, is it a bummer that Marquette got to the title match against a team that they went to a scoreless draw with earlier in the season and couldn’t find a way to win? Yeah, it is. It kinda sucks out loud. But, you have to frame these things in full context of the season. It was Marquette’s first Big East tournament appearance since 2014 and their first semifinals and title game appearance since 2013. On top of that, when Big East play started back in September, Marquette was 2-3-0 on the season. When non-con play finally wrapped up, Marquette was 3-6-0. They went 4-2-1 the rest of the way to get into the Big East tournament. That’s really impressive. Getting to the title match was a great accomplishment for this squad, and hopefully the experience of getting better as a team as the season went on pays dividends for the Golden Eagles going forward.
With that said, it’s time to say farewell and THANK YOU to the Marquette seniors: Martin Alba, Luis Barraza, Steffen Bohm, Diego Nunez, Grant Owens, and Ruben Sanchez. It’s not a secret that the past four years (or five in Alba’s case) haven’t been filled with fun and excitement in terms of success on the pitch for the Golden Eagles. That didn’t matter for these gents, though, as you could see their hard work and determination and fight every time they stepped out onto the field for the Golden Eagles. No matter what result occurred, they kept working to make themselves and the team better and for all of that work, they got to cap their careers with a thrilling postseason run. Thank you so much, guys, and Marquette fans everywhere wish you the best in whatever comes next.