So, let’s talk about that #25 ranking up there in the title.
I found out about that by going to Creighton’s website to check on their record for the preview that you’re about to read. Turns out that YOUR Marquette men’s soccer team was inserted into the United Soccer Coaches top 25 poll on Tuesday.
Marquette got 61 points in the polling, which put them 10 points back of #24 Grand Canyon and just one point ahead of the first unranked team, which is Providence. That was the day before Marquette squared off with Xavier in a match that we have yet to recap on this here internet website. So let’s do that!
The Golden Eagles won that game by a score of 2-1, advancing themselves to a 5-1-1 record on the year and 2-1-1 in the Big East. Lukas Sunesson scored for the fifth time this season, giving him a goal in four of Marquette’s seven matches. I would once again like to apologize for doubting that he was capable of hitting 10 goals on the season seeing has it has taken him seven matches to equal the total number of goals he had in 19 matches as a freshman.
Sunesson’s marker came in the 12th minute and was the first goal of the game.
12' | GOALLLLLLLL!!!!— Marquette Soccer (@marquettesoccer) March 17, 2021
Lukas Sunesson posts his fifth goal of the season to give the Golden Eagles an early 1-0 lead. Assist to Mirsberger. pic.twitter.com/Qvm4oH7YyR
It’s hard to make out what happened here given the limited camera space inside the bubble, so here’s the description from the GoMarquette.com recap:
Sunesson, a cross from Alex Mirsberger and Xavier netminder Matthew Rosenberg all met in front of the net at the same time and the result was the ball finding the back of the frame for the 1-0 advantage.
In short: “We don’t know what happened, but Alex’s cross clearly didn’t go in on its own and we’re not giving an own goal to the keeper.”
Marquette’s lead did not last. Justus Kauppinen punched home a chip from Karsen Henderlong in the 16th minute to beat Chandler Hallwood for the equalizer. That wasn’t quite the very next shot of the match as Henderlong had a try of his own miss everything, but it did happen before Marquette got another shot in.
The third goal of the match did come on the very next shot, though. That came by way of defender Manuel Cukaj and midfielder Zak Wegner in the 22nd minute.
25' | GOALLLLLL!!!— Marquette Soccer (@marquettesoccer) March 17, 2021
Brilliant service from Zak Wegner on a free kick finds the head of Manuel Cukaj for a score and the lead.
Marquette leads Xavier, 2-1. pic.twitter.com/SxFf5kYPMI
Wegner’s loft and bend on the 25 yard long free free kick was nearly perfect for the pathway for Cukaj, and the 6’1” German launched himself at just the right angle to pop the ball into the net for what would turn into the game winner.
Marquette would take just five more shots for the entire rest of the game, with three coming between Cukaj’s goal and halftime. All three of those were saved by Rosenberg, as was one in the dying seconds of the match. The two second half shots? Both came in the final four minutes of the match, so I’m going presume this was really more of a situation of Marquette being confident in their defense that prevented a goal in the first three games of the season and parking the bus before pushing forward to burn out the clock than it was really about Xavier controlling play. Xavier did outshoot Marquette 9-2 in the second half, and Hallwood had to make seven saves to keep the Golden Eagles out in front.
How about some highlights, courtesy of GoMarquette.com?
And now, on to what’s next......
Big East Match #5: at Creighton Bluejays (3-3-0, 3-1-0 Big East)
Marquette is 7-9-1 all time against Creighton. The Golden Eagles are 2-6-1 against the Bluejays while both teams have been Big East members, and MU has not defeated Creighton since October 25, 2017.
This is the first return bout of the Big East Midwest Division schedule for Marquette, and the Bluejays have been having a weird year since they beat Marquette in double overtime to start their season on February 20th. They lost an exhibition to Central Methodist four days later, and by “lost” I mean they let in four goals against an NAIA team. Then they got blanked by Nebraska-Omaha, losing 3-0. Then they beat Xavier to stay undefeated in Big East play. That was followed by a shutout loss to a ranked Missouri State team, and that was followed by their first Big East loss.... to a DePaul team that Marquette beat fairly easily. Finally, in their most recent contest, they threw in four goals against Butler, three before the hour mark, in a 4-2 win.
Just all over the place there.
And now Marquette and Creighton face off with first place in the Midwest Division on the line. The Jays currently hold the top spot with a .750 winning percentage against MU’s .625, but a win would give MU a .700 winning percentage and drop Creighton to .600.
Last time these two teams met, it was a match notably tilted towards Creighton. The Bluejays outshot the Golden Eagles 16-6 in regulation. It was 8-1 after halftime, which is pretty wild, since that’s where both teams scored their goals in regulation. It was Charles Auguste in the 51st for the Bluejays and Lukas Sunesson in the 65th for MU on what was Marquette’s only shot in that 45 minute stretch. That’s how things went to overtime knotted at one each, and MU got the only shots of the first 10 minutes of overtime, including one on frame that had a chance to win it. Didn’t happen, though, and Jake Ronneberg poked one in in the 105th minute on the third combined shot of the overtime session to win it for the visitors.
Through the next five official matches for Creighton, neither man has scored again for the Bluejays. Diego Gutierrez has installed himself as the team leader in points with four goals and two assists. However, two of those goals and one of those assists did come in their 4-2 win over Butler, including on goal on a penalty kick. That still makes Gutierrez the only guy on the team to score twice in their other four matches, so there’s that.
Paul Kruse has apparently been in and out of the lineup for Creighton. The preseason co-goalkeeper of the year in the Big East did not play against Marquette and has only played twice this season. Nathan Schnur, the chap who tended net against the Golden Eagles, has played all of the other minutes for the Bluejays. He’s allowing 1.68 goals per 90 minutes, which does count the 1 goal in 105 minutes against Marquette to help bring that down. He is stopping 72% of shots on goal, which is really great. Schnur played all of the Butler match, hence the “in and out” for Kruse, so I would wager Marquette will get him again on Saturday.