It became very clear very quickly on Friday night that Marquette men’s soccer was in a lot of trouble.
While not 100% true, it felt like the ball was staying in Creighton’s offensive half of the field exclusively. The Bluejays mustered five shots in the first 12 minutes of the match, and by that point, Marquette goalie Ludwig Malberg already had three saves. All of that happened before Marquette registered their first shot of the game (like I said, not 100% true) and Creighton just kept the pressure up from there.
It was only a matter of time before the dam broke, and that came in the 20th minute.
At some point, Creighton was going to get a shot off at Malberg that he wasn’t going to corral. It was just a fact, and that’s what it looked like.
Less than four minutes later, the very next official shot of the match looked like this coming off the leg of Creighton’s Alfie Pope.
GGGGOOOOAAAALLLL!!!!— Creighton Men’s Soccer (@creightonmsoc) September 16, 2023
Alfie Pope extends the Bluejay lead to 2-0 with this beautiful finish!
#13 Marquette 0
Creighton 2 pic.twitter.com/LUmuaRgtM6
Perfect timing by Pope, and you can’t say enough about that, but my goodness what an effort by Miguel Arilla to track that ball down, control it, and drop it right in front of Pope.
23:17 elapsed, 8-1 shot differential, 5-1 shot on goal differential, 2-0 on the scoreboard.
The fact that this did not get worse is a testament to Marquette.
It’s also a bit of Creighton saying “hey, we’ve got a 2-0 lead, we don’t need to go completely wild,” but Creighton also didn’t officially tally another shot for the rest of the half. Marquette only managing one — it was a shot on goal, so that’s nice — so it’s like the game reached a stasis point.
The game should have been 3-0. In the 52nd minute, Creighton’s Dominic Briggs made an outstanding solo effort to weave his way out in front of the net from the right side of things, and fired off a shot to the far side and it was ticketed in. But Kyle Bebej had come to a halt right there, and he just let the shot that Malberg was never going to get to hit him, and that kept the margin at 2-0.
Because this is how sports works sometimes, it was Bebej that was in the right place in the right time yet once again seven minutes later.
63' | MU - 1 | CU - 2 | GOAL!!! Minutes after clearing a shot off the line at the far post, Kyle Bebej dials long distance to cut the deficit in half with 30 minutes left! pic.twitter.com/mrlA8NMOcH— Marquette Soccer (@marquettesoccer) September 16, 2023
What the clip doesn’t show you is that this was off a free kick from the far left side of the field, and the Bluejays relatively easily cleared the ball well away from the net. It’s just that it landed straight in front of Bebej, and he smashed that shot into the net.
2-1, just a shade over 30 minutes to play.
THINGS THAT HAPPENED OVER THE NEXT 30 MINUTES:
Five shots by Creighton, three of them saved by Malberg, all three saves coming in a four minute stretch.
Three shots by Marquette, all three saved by Creighton’s Blake Gillingham.
Four yellow cards on Creighton.
Four yellow cards on Marquette.
It was a lot. One thing I did not mention there: Another goal.
There probably should have been? Not just because of all of those shots that were saved. Creighton had a goal waved away on an offside call, and Marquette had a wonderful header from Karim Abdoul Pare that went straight at Gillingham’s breadbasket.
And that’s not the most dramatic thing that happened. That would be a handball call against the Bluejays (it was an obvious call live on the FloFC stream) about 22-ish yards from the Creighton net with precisely 24 seconds left in regulation. I have personally watched Edrey Caceres put the ball in the net twice this season — once in an exhibition and once in the regular season — from roughly the exact spot where this free kick was set up.
Caceres put the shot on frame, but it was right at Gillingham for the third and final shot of the second half for the Golden Eagles.
2-1 Bluejays, they get the win in the Big East opener for both squads, and Marquette suffers their first loss of the season, dropping to 6-1-0.
Up Next: We swing back out of conference action and into the biggest rivalry match on the schedule this year. That is, of course, The Milwaukee Cup, and the series with Milwaukee will be contested on Tuesday night over on UWM’s east side campus. Marquette currently controls the Cup, and the Panthers are 2-3-0 on the year as of this writing with a Saturday afternoon road match against Wright State still pending.