Defense deals loss to Evansvill Ubert aces 7 saves for shutout in Eagles’ second consecutive home win

Dave Rossetti

Evansville, ranked No. 9 in the Midwest by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America before the loss, certainly had scoring opportunities — especially early.

But Marquette’s senior goaltender Adam Ubert made difficult saves look easy all night. He stonewalled the Purple Aces with seven saves on the way to logging the shutout. Ubert credits his recent success to the rapidly improving defense.

“I think the guys have made it a lot easier,” he said. “When they work hard and they’re winning tackles it makes things a lot easier on myself.

“Our defense just shut (Evansville) down completely.”

One of Evansville’s best chances came 30 seconds into the second half, when Adam Schultz headed a ball toward Marquette’s goal from 10 yards out. The shot, beyond Ubert’s reach, hit the top of the crossbar, bounced back into play and was cleared by junior defender Danny Mullin.

The Golden Eagles also successfully defended four corner kick opportunities from their opponent, including two back-to-back chances halfway through the first half.

Following more promising chances and tough saves from both Ubert and Evansville goalkeeper Troy Perkins, who recorded five saves, the Golden Eagles finally broke the scoreless tie. Freshman midfielder Matt Blouin collected a loose ball deep in the Purple Aces’ zone and sent a right-footed blast past Perkins into the net at 76:10. The goal was Blouin’s second in as many games.

Head coach Steve Adlard, who began his coaching career as an Evansville assistant in 1982, said his team had a solid practice session Friday that prepared them well for Evansville’s “unusual style.” He was also pleased with the team’s defensive performance, something that had been a concern earlier this season.

“I think they’re coming together,” he said. “And (Ubert’s) taking responsibility for balls that are back behind the defense.”

Adlard countered Evansville’s overall team speed by making substitutions when stamina became an issue for his squad.

“We put fresh legs out there and we were able to pressure the ends of their plays,” he said. “So credit to the team for that.”

Adlard also praised Blouin’s impressive play. In addition to scoring Marquette’s goal, he accounted for five of the team’s nine shots.

“I think he’s going to be a handful down the road,” he said. “He’s quite quick, he’s quite balanced and he’s got some awareness. As he learns this game he might start to score fairly regularly. That’d be nice.”

Noting that this year’s squad, which features 14 freshman on its 27-man roster, reminds him of Marquette’s 1999 team that won eight straight matches after four season-starting losses, Adlard said he was optimistic about the rest of the season.

“Given the newness of the team, to be .500 today is actually pretty good,” he said. “Considering the four away games, the conference game at home (vs. DePaul) andthe tough game at home (Saturday), it’s encouraging for what we can build on.

“When we were 8-5 (in ’99), we learned how to win and here we are, 3-3. You know, maybe the season starts today.”

The Golden Eagles will play conference foe South Florida (3-2-1) in the second game of the Marquette Invitational at 8 p.m. Friday at Valley Fields. Michigan (4-2) faces Washington (2-0-1) in the day’s first game at 5:30 p.m.