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Marquette Men’s Soccer Preview: at Butler Bulldogs

The Golden Eagles play their second straight road game in Big East play.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Purdue Boilermakers vs Butler Bulldogs Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Look, I’m going to be honest with you.

When I saw that Lukas Sunesson said that not only did he want to lead Marquette men’s soccer in scoring this season, but he hoped to score 10 goals this year, I had to stifle a laugh.

I’m not being mean here!

The 5’11” Swede came into the season with just eight goals scored in his two years at Marquette so far. It seemed a liiiiiiiitle bit unrealistic that he was going to suddenly score 125% more goals than he had scored in his previous 37 matches combined in the 15 match spring campaign that the Golden Eagles had arranged. I mean, c’mon. It’s not happening, right?

Right?

Well, we’re five matches in, with another one getting postponed and thus not played, and Sunesson has four goals already. That has him on pace for 11 goals this season.

So. Might be possible.

He’s going to have to keep scoring, of course. Marquette is going to have to continue to put goals in the net during regulation as well. That was something of a problem for the first three games of the year as MU won 1-0 in overtime each time. If you go to overtime in a scoreless draw, only one person is going to score in that game, and that really limits your chances to score at all.

I’ll say this: If Sunesson is going to keep averaging nearly a goal per game, that’s going to work out pretty well for the Golden Eagles this year. I don’t know if it’ll be enough to guarantee them a top two spot in the Midwest Division of the Big East and thus a Big East tournament berth, but it’s definitely not going to hurt, either.

Big East Match #3: at Butler Bulldogs (1-4-0, 1-0-0 Big East)

Date: Wednesday, March 10, 2021
Time: 1pm Central
Location: Sellick Bowl, Indianapolis, Indiana
Streaming: Butler Athletics YouTube
Live Stats: Stat Broadcast
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteSoccer

Marquette is 6-5-0 all time against Butler. The first three meetings were back in the 1990s, and the Golden Eagles have gone 4-4-0 against the Bulldogs since The Reformation. After last year’s victory, MU has won two straight games in the series.

This year has not started out well for Butler, at least not since they were picked to win the Midwest Division. They lost their opener to SIUE after giving up an equalizer in the 75th minute and then a game winner just 33 seconds into the second overtime. They then got shut out in three consecutive matches against Western Michigan (2-0), Saint Louis (2-0), and Notre Dame (1-0). All three games involved the opposition getting on the board in the first half and then controlling things against the Bulldogs to win.

So that left them 0-4-0 on the year, which last I checked, is bad. So what did Butler do in Match #5 on the year? If you’ve been reading carefully at home, then you know they won, but you may not know how.

THEY BEAT DEPAUL 5-0.

Goals in the 14th, 49th, 55th, 76th, and 86th minutes did the Blue Demons in on that particular day, with #1, #2, and #4 coming from Wilmer Cabrera, Jr.. Those are, as of now, his only goals of the season after being named to the preseason all-Big East team. Three goals in five games is pretty good, three goals in one game to get to three in five is.... well, it’s neat, but not as neat as scoring every other game essentially. Cabrera also assisted on goal #3 of the game for Butler, giving him seven points on the day. Not bad work, all told.

So now they’re 1-0-0 in the league, although they still trail behind Creighton in terms of points just because the Bluejays have won twice already. Marquette is actually tied with Butler on points right now at three each since the Golden Eagles are 1-1-0. With just eight games to decide who finishes in the top two in the Midwest Division and advances to the Big East tournament, this match could do an awful lot of heavy lifting in terms of settling that.

Gabriel Gjergji has played every minute in net so far for Butler, so we can expect to see him again on Wednesday. His seven goals allowed on the year have him letting in 1.37 per 90 minutes played, and he’s only stopping 61% of shots on goal. If Marquette’s offense can generate quality chances, they should be able to find some open space to get one past him. It may be a bit of a battle, as Butler is outshooting teams by nearly six shots per game on average. Then again, their opposition has done an awful lot of leading early on, so that may be skewing the shooting stats in BU’s favor.