Hello and welcome back to our preview of the 2021 Marquette men’s soccer season! We’ve already taken a look at the long, long list of returning chaps from the spring season that ended with MU claiming a Big East Midwest Division title and reaching the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. If you haven’t checked that out yet, please do so at your earliest convenience. Quite honestly, since almost the entire team is back for the fall season, that article is doing a heavy majority of the lifting for our season previewing purposes.
Here, though, we’re going to talk about the six freshmen on the MU roster. That’s the sum total of the newcomers to the team this year, as there are no new transfers to discuss. There’s one midfielder, one keeper, and four defenders on the list here, although we should point out that one of the defenders is technically a defender/midfielder combo according to the official roster. We’ll knock out the two quick categories first before moving on to the defenders partly for building to a main event reasons and partly for “look, they’re gonna have to knock Louis Bennett’s socks off to get on the field” reasons.
Here. We. Go!
Hailing from Houston, Texas, Edrey Caceres (5’8”, 147 pounds) attended MacArthur High School while playing for the Houston Dynamo Academy along the way. In his final year with the MLS program, Caceres was named the player of the year for the U19 team, which seems pretty good. Back in late 2019, he was also called up to training camp with the U23 El Salvador national team, which had to be a pretty big honor for him since he was born there. Given the lack of scoring data for a guy who was named POY for an MLS Academy squad, I’m going to presume that Caceres is a possession-minded midfielder much in the same vein as Alan Salmeron and Zac Wegner.
Marquette has two experienced keepers on the roster already, one of who was all-Big East back in the spring. I’m guessing that’s going to make it hard for Patrick Crantz (6’3”) to get some minutes in net this year for the Golden Eagles. A three-time letter winner at Hopkinton High School in Massachusetts, Crantz earned all-league honorable mention as a junior and a senior.... which is... fine. It doesn’t feel like “can take away minutes from Chandler Hallwood or Cedrik Stern right this second” though, but hey, depth and preparation for the future is important, too.
I’m going to start things off here with Josh Hewitt (5’10”), because his official MU bio is the most impressive sounding. I mean, when you’re the captain of an English Championship side’s U18 team for two years as Hewitt was at Reading, that’s pretty good stuff. I don’t know if it translates to “can grab the available defensive minutes in the Big East” since MU has lost two starting defenders from last season, but it definitely can’t hurt.
A little bit closer to home, Donovan Jones (5’7”, 150 pounds) has been starring at University School up in the north Milwaukee suburbs. He captained USM for the past two seasons while being named conference Player of the Year in each season as well. University School won a conference title in each of Jones’ four years there as well as a state title in 2018, and then he won a state title with his club team in 2019, too.
Ramzi Ouro-Akondo (5’10”, 168 pounds) had an outstanding prep career in the Twin Cities area after originally hailing from Togo on the western coast of Africa. He wrapped things up in 2020 with a Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year trophy to go along with being named as one of the five finalists for the best soccer player in the state. Ouro-Akondo earned all-state honors in all his four seasons at Minneapolis Southwest High School, including three straight First Team honors to end his career. I’m fascinated by the mention of “Offensive Player of the Year” in his official MU bio, but I think this note from the Star Tribune helps explain it:
One soccer game this season crystallized all the valuable elements senior Ramzi Ouro-Akondo brought to Minneapolis Southwest.
In the Class 2A, Section 6 quarterfinal, Ouro-Akondo headed a ball past the goalkeeper for a 1-0 Lakers’ lead in the 20th minute. As the game progressed, the attacking midfielder switched into a defensive role. And then, in the final 10 minutes, Ouro-Akondo moved back to sweeper — basically his goalkeeper’s bodyguard.
We’ll have to wait and see how Bennett and the coaching staff end up deploying Ouro-Akondo as his career at MU goes on, because you have to take advantage of a guy who can play defense but also score 13 goals in a high school season.
That leaves us with Jonas Moen, who stands 6’2” and hails from Norway. If he becomes a great soccer player for the Golden Eagles, cool. I kinda just wanna hear him pronounce his home town — Skedsmokorset — as well as what Marquette lists as his high school — Skedsmo Videregaaende Skole — because I’ve got no idea how to even attempt to get those right. Moen was team captain for his U19 club team in 2019 after being named Player of the Year for the season before that. I don’t know how much physical size plays into how the coaching staff measures things up here, but if they want the biggest newcomer to get the playing time left behind by the departures of Oliver Posarelli and Manuel Cukaj, then Moen’s their guy.