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Marquette Men’s Soccer 2021 Spring Preview: The Newcomers

Holy cow, the season starts tomorrow, so let’s do some introductions, shall we?

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Hey, Marquette men’s soccer fans, don’t worry, we didn’t forget about you. The Big East decided to throw our planning into the nearest garbage disposal when they suddenly threw Marquette’s men’s basketball team into a game on Sunday, and that’s why this part of our season preview for men’s soccer got pushed back a few days. You may have already read our look at the men that head coach Louis Bennett has returning from his 2019 roster, but if you haven’t, go check that out over thisaway.

Quite honestly, it’s nearly an entire full roster of guys available for the Golden Eagles this spring, so that makes this article a little more interesting/challenging. Here we’re going to talk about newcomers to the roster and see if we can figure out where they fit in for Marquette for this very weird timeshifted fall 2020 season. I guess the good news for the coaching staff is that five of these gents are transfers of one type or another, so they already have some collegiate experience.

Let’s dive into it, and like we did for the returning guys, we’ll go from forwards backwards on the pitch.

FORWARDS

The Golden Eagles have five new forwards on the roster for the spring. We’ll start with Cristian Gennaro (5’7”, 145 lbs) who has transferred from NAIA Ottawa University in Arizona. The Italian tallied 20 goals and six assists in his sophomore campaign, setting Ottawa record for both points and goals. Gennaro led Ottawa’s conference in points, goals, shots on goal, and game winning goals. If you can do that no matter the level, you’ve clearly got a bit of talent. Whether that translates up from NAIA to Division 1 and into the Big East, that’s up for debate.

Gennaro is joined in the group by four freshmen. I should point out that this is a lot of newcomers at the forward position, especially when Marquette clearly already has two guys set in roles with Lukas Sunesson and Christian Marquez. Then again, Bennett and his staff do need to replace the playmaking abilities of Josh Coan and Connor Alba, so there’s space in the rotation.

Anyway, it’s hard to sort the freshman forwards into some kind of order. Three of them have notes in their official MU bios that tell us things about their talents. Noah Madrigal (6’1”, 175 lbs.) set a school record at Notre Dame High School in Peoria for goals with 116 and earned United Soccer Coaches All-American honors twice. Alan Kim (5’8”, 140 lbs.) was the Iowa Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior, which means he’s clearly a very talented soccer player..... but for whatever circumstances are involved, he only had 24 career goals to go with 10 assists. Kacper Chrapczynski (5’7”, 145 lbs) is already haunting the autocorrect feature on my phone before he even plays a second for Marquette much less starts scoring goals. It appears that the Streamwood, Illinois, native did not play for his high school team as his official bio talks about his US Development Academy experience with Sockers FC and refers to his 20 goals in 23 games in the 2018-19 season. High school teams generally speaking don’t have seasons that bridge years like that, so even though it doesn’t expressly say it in the bio, I presume those are academy numbers. Chrapczynski had seven goals in 11 appearances in 2019-20, which I presume was a shortened season due to the pandemic, but who can say for certain.

That leaves Beto Soto (5’8”, 145 lbs.) as the last new guy in the position group. On one hand, when your bio doesn’t tell us anything about your prep or club exploits as a forward, that seems troublesome. On the other hand, when you’re playing for the Houston Dynamo U19 team as someone who’s much younger than that 19 year old limit, maybe goals and assists are a little harder to come by. He also spent the summer of 2019 practicing with the Dynamo MLS squad, so he’s clearly got some things working in his favor. Does that turn into immediate playing time up top? We’ll have to wait and see.

MIDFIELDERS

Bennett has two transfer midfielders playing their first season with Marquette this spring, and in a weird coincidence, both were born in Brazil. Matheus Pereira (5’8”, 175 lbs.) spent two years at Marshalltown Community College in Iowa. In two seasons there, he put up 10 goals and 14 assists as the squad was highly successful in those two campaigns. Zyan Andrade (5’11”, 165 lbs.) is a Division 1 transfer, as he comes to Marquette after two seasons at the University of San Francisco. He appears to have been a notable part of the roster there, starting in all of his eight appearances as a freshman and in nine of his 15 appearances as a sophomore. While Pereira seems to be tilting more towards a scoring mid, Andrade barely took a shot while with the Dons. Marquette appears to be set in terms of experienced holding/defensive midfielders, so it may be harder for Andrade to get on the field.

Speaking of opportunities for scoring midfielders, let’s talk about Thomas Priest. The 5’9”, 150 pound Neenah native finished his prep career with 65 goals and 32 assists while earning all-conference Player of the Year honors to go with all-state nods as a junior and as a senior. His official MU bio says he also earned two varsity letters on the hockey team, so that seems to imply a certain amount of balance, footwork, and coordination that goes beyond what you can pick up on a soccer field. I don’t know if that’s actually beneficial to Priest, but I thought it was interesting.

DEFENDERS

Marquette’s lone transfer in the backline is Harvey Read (6’2”, 185 lbs.), who comes to Marquette after a year at Rhode Island. He appeared in 16 matches for the Rams, and while I can’t track down how many minutes he actually played, they played 21 matches that year. Read was a sub in their Atlantic 10 championship match, but he did not play in the NCAA tournament game against Syracuse. The Englishman notched an assist in his one year of Division 1 soccer, and has youth team experience with Southampton and Stoke City.

Tasker Wheeler (6’1”, 185 lbs.) is the only Marquette freshman that has a recruiting ranking in his official team bio. The Texas native was ranked #154 in the country in the Class of 2022 by Top Drawer Soccer. Maybe that doesn’t sound ultra spectacular, but let’s remember that Marquette bringing in eight freshmen isn’t unusual, and if all 200+ Division 1 teams have eight freshmen.... well, you can do the math on whether or not #154 is still pretty good. Wheeler was at IMG Academy for four years, but then went up to Washington, D.C. for his final year of high school. I’m going to guess, given that he’s from Texas, that the opportunity to train with the D.C. United Development Academy team was the reasoning there. If you had to pick one of the four defender newcomers to earn a spot in the lineup, you could do a lot worse than Wheeler... but it’s worth noting that Wheeler wasn’t announced as joining the team until after the first of the year. While he’ll still have four years of eligibility remaining after this spring thanks to the “everyone gets a free season because of COVID” thing, it’s a coin toss as to whether or not he’ll play given the late addition.

That leaves Jai Hsieh-Bailey (5’9”, 158 lbs.) and Joey Fitzgerald (5’9”, 155 lbs.) to figure out. As we outlined in our runthrough of the returning guys, Marquette seems to be set in terms of defenders. However, MU is looking to replace the wing abilities of Patrick Seagrist. With both guys having the physical dimensions of more of a wing defender instead of a center back, there’s an avenue for both to play their way onto the field. Fitzgerald started in 33 of a possible 36 matches for the same Sockers squad as Kacper Chrapczynski. Hsieh-Bailey hails from Oak Park, Illinois, where he earned all-state honors as a senior in soccer and all-conference honors in baseball, too. I like a talented multi-sport athlete guy.

GOALKEEPER

I’m not going to even pretend to lie to you: I’m fascinated by the fact that Chandler Hallwood stands 6’4” tall. Sure, both of Marquette’s returning goalies are north of 6-feet tall, but Hallwood is both taller and heavier than both of them. He played the 2019 season at Division 2 Gannon after redshirting in 2018, and he was great as the team went 18-3-0 and he earned United Soccer Coaches All-American Second Team honors. Hallwood posted seven shutouts and allowed just 0.77 goals per 90 minutes. His save percentage was a sparkling .807 but we do have to make a tiny asterisk here. Hallwood only faced 7.8 shots per game and only had to make 3.2 saves per game. His defense in front of him was great. Of course, part of that is Hallwood making calls from behind everyone else, so we’ll see if that means the Englishman jumps the line in front of Cedrik Stern and Jackson Weyman.