ARE YOU READY FOR SOME MARQUETTE MEN’S SOCCER?
The 2021 season starts TONIGHT and continues again on Sunday with another match. Real soccer! At Valley Fields! Featuring YOUR nationally ranked Golden Eagles!
Speaking of being nationally ranked, we did already talk about MU coming in at #19 in the United Soccer Coaches preseason poll. That’s pretty cool all on its own. But we did not talk about the preseason Top Drawer Soccer rankings, which are pretty important here. Why? Because they have Marquette at #12! Twelve! One spot ahead of Seton Hall! Only trailing Georgetown amongst Big East teams!
Sure makes that Big East poll where Marquette came in fifth look weird, huh?
Marquette returns nearly everyone from the spring roster that ended with the Golden Eagles winning a Midwest Division title, qualifying for the NCAA tournament, and advancing to the Sweet 16 before eventually going out at the feet of eventual national runner-up Indiana. It was just the fourth NCAA tournament appearance in program history and just the second Sweet 16 appearance in program history. The biggest questions are on defense, where Oliver Posarelli and Manuel Cukaj are not back for the fall campaign. Losing two of your defensive starters off a team that won a whole bunch of games in overtime in the spring isn’t necessarily the best news in the world. The fact that MU got outshot kind of a lot last season adds a level of “man, what’s up with all of that” when it comes to trying to project what the defense will look like.
On the other end of the pitch, we’re waiting to see what Lukas Sunesson has in store for us. He was MU’s first ever MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist in the spring, which means the forward from Sweden was considered to be one of the 15 best players in the country for that season. That’s pretty damn great, and the only thing that would be better is to see him do it again. Given that Marquette’s offense returns intact from the spring, Sunesson will get a chance to take advantage of cohesion that he’s already built with his midfielders and fellow forwards. In theory, that’s nothing but good news for Marquette’s offense.
A NOTE ON WATCHING THESE MATCHES: The Big East has signed a deal with FloSports for carriage of the Big East Digital Network for at least the 2021-22 season. As such, most if not actually all Marquette contests are moving from the historically expected free streaming on GoMarquette.com to the paid streaming service. HOWEVER, you do NOT need to pay the full $30 a month or $150 for a full year. Marquette’s announcement of the deal with FloSports says to Follow This Link for a discounted price of $12.50 a month or $95.88 ($7.99 a month) for a whole year. FloSports is going to carry Marquette soccer, volleyball, and lacrosse in addition to women’s basketball just like last season. Is it ideal, particularly since MU streamed tons of things for free for years and years? No. Does it make sense for MU to go to free admission for soccer this fall while cashing a check for streaming? Well, actually kind of, in a roundabout way.
Match #1: vs Green Bay (0-0-0)
Marquette is 15-20-5 all time against Green Bay. The series dates all the way back to 1970, and things have pivoted in favor of the Golden Eagles since the mid-80s. The Phoenix won the first 14 matches in the series and in fact held MU to just one goal in the first seven meetings. Anyway, as you can tell, MU is 15-4-5 since then, which is good. The Golden Eagles are unbeaten in the last four meetings with Green Bay dating back to 2007 and 8-2-1 in the last 11.
Green Bay went 3-4-1 in the spring season, which was the second straight sub-.500 campaign for head coach Jeremy Bonomo. While the Phoenix themselves might have high expectations for this fall, the rest of the Horizon League does not share in their excitement. The preseason poll for men’s soccer in that league came out on Wednesday, and Green Bay was picked to finish seventh in the 11 team conference. It’s notable that they’re that far off the pace as four different teams picked up at least one first place vote. Things are wildly unsettled in terms of a consensus for the best team in the league, but Green Bay only received half as many points as league favorite Oakland.
The Horizon League doesn’t do a preseason all-conference team — or at least they didn’t do one this year — so I can’t tell you anything about how the coaches feel about any individual players on the Phoenix roster. I can tell you that springtime All-Freshman Team member Ruben Linden is back for the fall season, though. He is the only GB player who got mentioned in the HL’s press release on their preseason poll, so that’s pretty important. Linden is a 6’2” defender out of Sweden, so it’ll be up to the Golden Eagles to scheme around him.
Midfielder Ezau Millan and defender Ben Hughes led Green Bay in goals in the spring season with two each, and both men return this fall. Millan added two assists to get the team lead in points with six on the year. The Phoenix will have to replace the output of Fredi Ortega, who led the team with three assists in seven matches in the spring.
Jamison Yoder took over as Green Bay’s primary keeper in the 2019 season, but over the last 23 matches of action, his performance hasn’t been all that great. In both 2019 and the spring 2021 season, the 6-foot tall Illinois native had a save percentage right around 70% and a goals-against average around 1.50.
Match #2: vs Southern Illinois-Edwardsville (0-0-0)
Date: Sunday, August 29, 2021
Time: 4pm Central as the back end of a doubleheader with the women’s team
Location: Valley Fields
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteSoccer
Marquette is just 1-3-1 all-time against SIUE. Each of the previous five meetings happened between 1984 and 1993, though, and MU’s lone win came in the most recent meeting and one of just two contests that happened in Milwaukee.
The Cougars went 5-5-0 in the spring season, with a 2-5-0 record in MAC play. Yes, Southern Illinois-Edwardsville played in the MAC in the spring and had been since 2017. Before that, they were in the Missouri Valley Conference.... and that’s where they are again this season. To that end, SIUE is picked to finish fourth in the MVC this season. That’s fourth in the six team league.
Sophomore forward Oskar Lenz is SIUE’s lone representative on the MVC’s preseason all-conference team. The 6’2” German had four goals and five assists in the 10 games that the Cougars played in the spring season, which was a big breakout for him after appearing in just three matches in his first season of college soccer back in the fall of 2019.
Lenz was SIUE’s leading scorer in the spring, and the two other guys who scored more than one goal return from that roster as well. Both Vincent Jackson and Jacob Bilyeu tallied two goals last season with Jackson playing in all 10 matches and Bilyeu appearing in eight. Kelby Phillips chipped in three assists and Mitchel Murphy added two assists as well.
Both keepers that played in the spring for SIUE are back this fall. Lluis Martorell had the majority of the minutes, starting in eight of the 10 matches. While he had a pretty good save percentage of 80%, his goals-against average of 1.43 was not good at all. Tor Erik Larsen started the other two matches and only played in three contests total. He had a quality save percentage of 75% along with a goals-against average of 1.15. That’s better, obviously, but it’s also not great.