Well, Marquette men’s soccer definitely looked a lot better on Saturday night than they did in the previous 120 minutes of soccer. The Golden Eagles picked up two first half goals within in five minutes of each other and tacked on a third right after the start of the second half on their way to a 3-1 victory over Creighton. Marquette is now 5-5-1 overall and 2-2-1 in Big East action. With the Golden Eagles sitting at exactly the midway point of the conference slate, MU has seven points in the standings which puts them in a tie with DePaul for fifth place and thus currently in the picture for a conference tournament berth.
Things started out ominous for Marquette as freshman defender Jonas Moen was issued a yellow card just 32 seconds into the match for a foul not too far outside the 18 yard box and keeper Chandler Hallwood had to make a save right away on the ensuing free kick to keep the match scoreless in the first minute. The Bluejays seemed to be controlling the match right after that for the first several minutes, which is really not what you want.
Still, things started pointing in Marquette’s direction after 15 minutes of action, and that ended up building to this goal from Lukas Sunesson. It’s a nice combination of a quality pass from freshman midfielder Edrey Caceres as well as some fancy footwork by Sunesson to put the ball in the net.
Good to have a goal, good to have a lead, of course. No one would have faulted Marquette for reorganizing and holding tight to their lead, at least for a few minutes.... but that is not what happened. Less than five minutes later, Beto Soto ran himself under this pass from Christian Marquez for a 2-0 lead.
It’s really great work by Soto to manage to find himself enough space to make the play cleanly as well as great passing placement by Marquez to play Soto into said space.
It was starting to look like MU was going to take that 2-0 lead into halftime, but physics had a different idea in mind. Here, watch this replay and you tell me if this contact justifies a handball call and thus a penalty kick for the Bluejays.
41'— Creighton Men’s Soccer (@creightonmsoc) October 10, 2021
shots lead to a PK, which leads to Creighton getting on the scoresheet! pic.twitter.com/HbGLa0GiuJ
It definitely hits a Marquette player in the arm, and he’s definitely in the 18 yard box when it happens. But it looks awfully incidental/accidental, and if you watch where the ball goes afterwards, the contact does turn the ball towards the MU net and it seems that the first person able to play the ball would be a Creighton player. By rule, yeah, PK for a handball. By advantage gained from intentional contact? Not even in a million years could you argue that for me.
Anyway, 2-1, and that lead stood at halftime.... but not for much longer than that.
Lukas Sunesson put the Golden Eagles up 3-1 just 29 seconds into the second half off a great long pass from Zyan Andrade and, admittedly, a little bit of ricochet help from CU keeper Paul Kruse.
Upon first watch, it looks like the ball just squirts past Kruse as he makes his save attempt. On replay, it’s much worse than that. Yes, it squirts past him, but it also hits the post, which is good news for Kruse.... and then it hits him in the back of the leg to bounce away and into the net.
At the speed it happens in real time, there’s nothing he could have done once it’s past him, but that is a brutal way to give up a goal less than 30 seconds into the half.
That was the end of the scoring for the match, but not the end of the drama. In the 50th minute, Jackson Castro was issued a straight red card for a play that would probably qualify as roughing in the NHL. Alex Mirsberger plays the ball ahead, and the ball is clearly gone by the time that Castro arrives on scene..... and then Castro just runs straight through Mirsberger and plants his forearm and elbow directly into Mirsberger’s jaw and throat area.
Then a fight nearly broke out after the referee showed the card to Castro and then went to tend to Mirsberger.
And then Creighton, down to 10 men for the remainder of the match, was called for 10 more fouls the rest of the way on top of the two yellow cards they were issued. Not that Marquette was a bunch of innocent bystanders, as they racked up eight fouls and two yellow cards after Castro’s removal from the match. I believe the technical term is “getting chippy.”
Oh, and Sunesson very nearly had a hat trick as he made a sliding shot right at Kruse’s feet in the 83rd minute and it was absolutely headed past Kruse and into the net..... but the lucky presence of Jake Ashford suddenly appearing on the line paddled it away and out for a corner kick.
Up Next: Marquette will be back out on the road for their next match. That one will be on Wednesday night as the Golden Eagles face off against Connecticut for the first time since 2012. The Huskies are just 4-4-1 on the year and are winless in Big East play at 0-3-1 so far.