My big question for Marquette Golden Eagles men’s soccer heading into the 2018 season was “Can they find 12 points against Big East opponents to find a way into the conference tournament this year?” That question loomed large after MU had dropped three straight matches after a 2-0-0 start.
WELL, LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING, MEAN GENE. After Saturday night, Marquette needs just nine points from their final eight matches, as the Golden Eagles popped in three goals to beat #13 Villanova Wildcats to open conference play. Marquette is now 3-3-0 on the season, 1-0-0 in Big East play, which has them in a five-way tie for first place with three points.
Not for nothing, this is also Marquette’s first win against a ranked opponent since they downed #7 Akron in the 2013 NCAA tournament.
Marquette struck first to give the Golden Eagles a bit of an edge. Connor Alba made a series of near-perfect touches to blaze down the right sideline, pivot in towards the top of the 18 yard box, and snap a perfectly aimed shot to the left post past two defenders and keeper Carson Williams.
That came in the 28th minute, and was a welcome sight to the Marquette faithful. MU would carry that lead til halftime, but they had just a 6-5 lead in shots at the break. Keeper Luis Barraza had to make two saves in the front end to keep the Wildcats off the board through 45 minutes, and he would come up big again and again after halftime with three more saves.
The biggest save of the match might not have actually been by Barraza, though. It goes into the book as “team save,” but we all know it was Oliver Posarelli. Villanova had the ball out wide to the right, and Barraza made the play to come out to cut the angles. Yusef Cueceoglu struck a perfect shot to rifle the ball up and past Barraza, but it was Posarelli who came up — literally, as he leapt to make the play — huge to volley the ball back away from the MU net.
That was in the 75th minute, and things were getting a little tense in the Valley as Marquette clung to that 1-0 lead. That’s where Patrick Seagrist came in.
Maybe a bit of luck and “right place, right time” for the junior from Streamwood, Illinois, but he put enough velocity on his smash to jam it through Williams’ diving attempt at a save and provide the Golden Eagles with the insurance.
Perhaps buoyed by the extra tally from Seagrist in the 77th minute, Marquette seemed a little more free in their play for the final 13 minutes of the match. Perhaps that contributed to Josh Coan’s marker in the 83rd minute, off of a bit of stick-to-it-iveness and a nifty flip from Alba.
Up Next: Well, Big East men’s soccer is weird, which means that MU won’t play another conference match until Saturday. In the meantime, they’ll be hosting Milwaukee Panthers at Valley Fields on Wednesday in the 46th edition of the Milwaukee Cup. UWM is 3-2-1 this season after going to a 1-1 draw with Cleveland State in their Horizon League opener.