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Big East Men’s Soccer Tournament Quarterfinals Preview: #4 Marquette Golden Eagles vs #5 Xavier Musketeers


NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-West Regional Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

2018 Big East Men’s Soccer Tournament Quarterfinals

#4 Marquette Golden Eagles (7-8-1, 5-3-1 Big East) vs #5 Xavier Musketeers (6-7-5, 4-4-1 Big East)

Date: Saturday, November 3, 2018
Time: 7pm Central
Location: Valley Fields, Milwaukee, WI
Video Streaming: Big East Digital Network on Fox Sports Go
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @marquettesoccer
All-Time Series: Marquette leads, 6-3-0
Regular Season Meeting: Marquette won, 2-1

It’s been four long years since we got to write a preview for a Marquette men’s soccer appearance in the Big East tournament, and let me tell you what, it feels pretty great to be back.

Even better, it’s a home match for the Golden Eagles, as their win over DePaul last Saturday night moved them to 16 points in league play. That put them in fourth place and hosting one of Saturday’s two quarterfinal matches. The winner of this matchup between Marquette and #5 seed Xavier advances to the semifinals on Wednesday, November 7th, where they will face top seeded Creighton in Omaha.

After the regular season meeting, you have to figure that the advantage heading into Saturday night belongs to the Golden Eagles. Back on October 18th, the Golden Eagles recovered from a seventh minute goal from the Musketeers to win 2-1 on two second half goals from midfielder Luka Prpa. Combine that victory for Marquette at Valley Fields with the fact that this match will also be contested alongside the Menomonee River, and you’d have to think that things are favoring MU ever so slightly.

Prpa was one of five Golden Eagles honored by the Big East on Friday when the all-league teams were announced. Prpa was joined on the First Team by defender Patrick Seagrist as well as goalkeeper Luis Barraza. In fact, Barraza made it onto the First Team not because he was just voted there, but because he was also named Goalkeeper of the Year in the Big East. The senior from New Mexico had an outstanding final campaign for the Golden Eagles, even if he was suspended for his own Senior Night this past Saturday night thanks to a red card foul in the previous match. While Cedrik Stern performed admirably to propel MU to the fourth seed, it’ll assuredly be Barraza’s net for this match.

Connor Alba was named to the Second Team, while Lukas Sunesson was a unanimous choice for the All-Freshman team. The four field players honored by the Big East are in fact Marquette’s top four scorers this season. Prpa has the points lead thanks to his six assists on the year, while Sunesson’s goal on Saturday night pushed him out of a tie with Prpa and Alba at four strikes on the year. Seagrist’s speed and footwork on the left wing have been invaluable tools for the Golden Eagles this season, even if he is ostensibly a defender. He still found a way to chip in nine points (3G, 3A) to help get the Golden Eagles to this point of the season.

Xavier put two men on the all-Big East teams. Simen Hestnes, the goalscorer for XU in the regular season meeting, was voted to the First Team, while Samson Sergi was included on the Second Team. Those are two very good choices, as they’re 1-2 on Xavier’s stat sheet this season. Hestnes made his mark both shooting and passing, recording eight goals and a team high six assists this year. Sergi matches Hestnes in goals to tie for the team lead, and added three assists as well.

I would expect Colin Hanley to appear in net for Xavier in this one. Hanley has played the last eight matches for the Musketeers, although Zachary Nelson has played more minutes total this season. Hanley has a goals-against average of 1.50, although that number has ballooned up to 1.65 against Big East foes. The problem for Hanley has been making saves, as he’s only stopping 52% of shots on goal both for the whole season and against Big East teams.