On Wednesday night at Valley Fields, Marquette men’s soccer played their 9th match of the year. For the seventh time this season, the match was level at the end of regulation. Seven. Overtime. Games. In. Nine. Total. Contests.
Were this Premier League soccer, Marquette would be 2-0-7 on the season. But this is the NCAA, and so level at the end of 90 minutes means a 10 minute golden goal/sudden victory session. On Wednesday night, Marquette went to an extra session for the seventh time this season... and they emerged from overtime with a win for the fifth time this spring.
Shouts to Alex Mirsberger, who provided the fireworks in the 108th minute, which is in the second overtime period and just barely under three minutes remaining in extra time:
While credit has to go to Mirsberger for elevating properly and accurately as well as striking perfectly to beat DePaul keeper Drew Nuelle, we also have to acknowledge the perfectly placed service of Zyan Andrade. A few feet left or right or up or down and Mirsberger isn’t all by himself in the air to play that ball. It’s the second straight game that Andrade has been involved in scoring an overtime game winner for the Golden Eagles after he banged home a first touch shot to beat Creighton last time out, and it’s the third time this season that he’s been involved as his golden goal beat Saint Louis back on February 13th.
How did we get to this point? Well, it wasn’t good news for Marquette, that’s for sure.
Jack Richards got the scoring started in the 12th minute of the match when he volleyed in a feed from Kristian Malinich. 1-0 DePaul right in the early going and on the fifth shot of the match in just 12 minutes by the Blue Demons. With the one goal advantage, DePaul kept the pressure up. By the time we reached the midway point of the match, the visitors had recorded 12 shots total, and MU keeper Chandler Hallwood had to make two saves to keep them at just one goal.
Marquette? Just two shots in the first 45 minutes, but one of them was this shot by Manuel Cukaj:
36' | GOALLLL!!!— Marquette Soccer (@marquettesoccer) March 24, 2021
Manuel Cukaj serves one into the box where it is sent into the net off a DePaul player.
Tie game at Valley, 1-1. pic.twitter.com/KsybV7xt7K
In the video clip, you can hear Patrick Reed calling it an own goal, and by definition, it is. Was Cukaj’s play going to go in the net? Probably not. Did it go in specifically because of the attempted redirection by the DePaul defender? Almost assuredly. But it was a freak deflection more than anything else, and officially, the goal is credited to Cukaj. It’s more like NHL scoring rules here. Cukaj was the last MU player to touch the ball before it went in, and even if it didn’t go straight in, he gets the credit.
That was in the 36th minute, and it was, officially, Marquette’s first shot of the match. Shot #2 came in the 43rd minute from Noah Madrigal, saved by Nuelle, and so MU was getting outshot 12-2 at the break. Not ideal, but when you’re level at the same time, you count your blessings and try to figure out how to change things up.
Things were much more even in the second half, with Marquette outshooting DePaul 7-6. Both teams made two saves in the second half, but Oliver Posarelli made one of them for the Golden Eagles in the 56th minute to keep it at one goal apiece.
56' |— Marquette Soccer (@marquettesoccer) March 25, 2021
Oliver Posarelli makes sure we remain tied against DePaul. pic.twitter.com/kzrUrFOqKn
Hallwood got some help from his goalposts after that, with Jake Fuderer hitting the top bar in the 61st minute and Brayden Callipari hitting the right post in the 67th. MU added a shot on goal of their own in the 90th minute, but Nuelle kept it out of the net to send it to extra time.
DePaul recorded the only official shot of the first 10 minutes of overtime, with Timmy Iscra missing left in the 97th minute. The two teams traded shots in the second session, with DePaul cracking one off just 47 seconds after the restart, and Andrade getting an attempt of his own in the 106th. That all led to Andrade’s service and MU’s win.
A very dramatic win for the Golden Eagles, and more importantly than all of that, it helped Marquette maintain their hold on first place in the Big East’s Midwest Division. The Golden Eagles are 7-1-1 overall now and 4-1-1 in Big East play. They still have two league matches left to go, but MU is getting very close to locking up one of the top two spots in the division and thus a spot in the conference tournament.
Up Next: One of those two remaining league contests! On Saturday, Marquette will host Butler in the Valley. First kick is set for 4pm Central time, and GoMarquette.com will have your live stream. MU and BU went to a scoreless draw in the first meeting this season.