The end of an era of college soccer in Milwaukee is upon us.
On Wednesday morning, Marquette announced that men’s soccer head coach Louis Bennett is, in their words, stepping away from the program. Bennett has been the head coach of the program since the 2006 season, which had made him the longest tenured coach at MU. Before his time at Marquette, Bennett was the head coach at Milwaukee for 10 seasons.
Here’s athletic director Bill Scholl:
“I want to thank Louis and his family for not only what they have given to our soccer program at Marquette, but also for their nearly 30 years of service to the greater Milwaukee soccer community,” Scholl said. ”Louis has had a lasting impact on hundreds of student-athletes and we wish him the best as he enters the next chapter of his career.”
And here’s Bennett:
“After nearly 30 years, 18 at Marquette, it’s time to step away from college soccer,” Bennett said. ”I’ve been fortunate to have the privilege to work with so many quality young men and colleagues, thoroughly enjoying the ups and downs of the crazy, beautiful game of soccer in the academic setting.
“My time at Marquette - the graduates, the pro drafts, the Sweet 16 appearances, BIG EAST Championships - all have given me joy, but none more than the great relationships and true friendships I’ve been exposed to over my whole collegiate experience,” Bennett added. ”This is not a retirement, but a rewiring and a thank you to all the people that helped me get to this point in my career.”
Bennett’s tenure at Marquette ends after a 7-6-3 campaign brought his MU record to 118-152-47. In combination with his 10 years at Milwaukee, Bennett leaves college soccer with a record of 253-216-64, and the Golden Eagles gave him his 250th career victory on September 4th by way of 1-0 victory over Harvard.
While Bennett leaves Marquette with the second most wins in program history, it’s hard to ignore the high achievement that the Golden Eagles did reach under his guidance. In 2012, Marquette was ranked as high as #2 in the country on their way to the program’s first NCAA tournament appearance since 1997. They would be back in the NCAA tournament a year later, and defeated Akron in their first match to earn the program’s first ever national championship tournament victory. MU would return to the NCAA field in the spring 2021 campaign and advanced to the Sweet 16 for the second time under Bennett’s direction by way of a penalty kick advancement following a 0-0 draw with Loyola Marymount. MU also recorded regular season championships in 2011, 2013, and the spring 2021 season as well as winning the conference tournament in 2013.
With that said, it’s very clear that Bennett never quite materialized the level of play that he guided Milwaukee to in his 10 years on the east side of town. Bennett went 135-64-17 in his time with the Panthers, putting UWM in the NCAA tournament four times and winning a regular season league title five times. In his last seven seasons with the Panthers, Bennett won at least 11 matches every year..... but it took him until Year 7 at Marquette — the year the team hit #2 in the polls — to win 10 games in a season at all. Since reaching the NCAA tournament in 2013, Marquette posted a winning season just three times: 2014 at 8-6-4, spring 2021 at 8-3-2, and this fall, in 2023, at 7-6-3.... but the Golden Eagles finished the year on a 1-6-3 stretch.
As he headed into his 28th season in charge of a college team after a pro career that included a run with the Milwaukee Wave, it seemed clear that we were much closer to the end of Louis Bennett’s tenure in charge of Marquette’s squad than we were to the beginning of it. I just didn’t realize we were this close to the end of it. Best wishes to him and his family in their future endeavors, as he said in his own words that he’s not heading off to retirement from here.
As for the timeline on hiring a new head coach, it could be a minute. The Big East conference tournament won’t even start until November 4th, and the NCAA tournament isn’t set to end with the national championship game in Louisville until December 11th. If Bill Scholl already had an inkling that this could be coming for a while now, then perhaps he’ll be able to move towards a hiring fairly quickly. If that hiring process involves someone who’s still playing in the postseason, then we might be waiting a minute.