Senior fullback Steffen Bohm sat out the contest, so Coach Louis Bennett had Zak Wegner (normally a midfielder) at Bohm’s normal right back spot and gave Martin Alba the start in midfield. The only other lineup change came at the left winger spot, where junior transfer Josh Coan started in place of Grant Owens.
The changes seemed to be well-made, as Alba tallied a wundergoal in the 4th minute after a Marquette corner bounced out of the box and to his feet about 30 yards from goal. One smooth kicking motion and a few seconds later, the ball found the upper right 90 and the back of the net. Pretty impressive for his first career goal.
Freshman sensation Lukas Sunesson added a second goal to the night’s tally (and a third to his season tally) only 7 minutes later as the freshman single-handedly took on all three Bears center backs on a breakaway, making one deft touch after another, before finally finishing past the keeper at the other end.
The Golden Eagles stayed steady until the half, although Central Arkansas came close to finding goals of their own. Luis Barraza had a few tough saves and the Marquette back line had a few lucky breaks, as the Bears strikers (including NCAA top scorer from 2017 Niklas Brodacki) couldn’t find the back of the net, firing over the crossbar and past both posts a few times on some wide open chances.
After the break Marquette continued to hold possession and dominate the ball, completely overwhelming the Central Arkansas midfield and finding the right passes. The Golden Eagles finally broke through again as a Coan cross found the head of Connor Alba in the 62nd minute. Alba’s flick went back across goal, completely wrongfooting the keeper, and tucked into the side netting for the third goal of the night.
Patrick Seagrist rounded out the scoring by putting an absolute screamer into the back of the net in the 74th minute from just outside the box. Seagrist was particularly impressive all night, dominating the left side of the pitch and covering probably the most ground of any player on the night.
All in all, a pretty great performance. The back line held firm (and benefitted from some luck), and they continue to look more and more in sync. The combo of Leo Villa and Josh Hancock at center back seems to be incredibly solid, and Ruben Sanchez held down the fort in the defensive midfield in front of them. Villa and Hancock are particular highlights, as Villa made some incredible break-stopping plays and key tackles, and Hancock commanded the ball in the air, including almost netting a goal on a Luka Prpa free kick.
In the most recent TopDrawer Soccer poll, Marquette was ranked #22 in the nation. The United Soccer Coaches poll had Marquette receiving votes, but not ranked and not close to being ranked if we’re being honest. Both of these left fans excited but also a bit perplexed, as a 3-1 win over Valparaiso didn’t seem like the flashiest of results. However, after this performance, Marquette will deserve votes, even if they won’t be ranked.
All in all, a great building block for the Golden Eagles. If they can replicate this level of offensive prowess, possession soccer, and defense, they will be very hard to beat.
Up Next: Marquette heads out on the road for the first time. They’ll be down in Missouri on Tuesday to face Saint Louis. The Billikens are 0-1-1 with a Friday road trip against Louisville in between now and then.