Cincinnati’s Adams vetoes Marquette effort

Dave Rossetti

Instead, the script went awry as Cincinnati (10-3-5, 6-2-1 in C-USA) handed Marquette its second home loss of the season, 1-0, and earned a share of the C-USA regular season crown with repeat-champions St. Louis while doing it. The Golden Eagles (9-9-1, 4-4-1 in C-USA), last regular season’s co-champions, could have backed into the tournament as the sixth and final seed had South Florida and DePaul tied Sunday, but the Bulls won, 2-1, leaving Marquette seventh in the 10-team conference.

Head coach Steve Adlard said the team was dejected after the game.

“They’re distraught,” he said. “They gave a good effort and created numerous chances, particularly in the first half, but they weren’t able to finish.

“I feel bad today because I feel like this is a talented group and we’re learning how to win, and we just can’t get past that.”

The Golden Eagles played to a scoreless tie through the first half, outshooting the Bearcats seven to four while forcing Cincinnati goalkeeper John Adams to make four saves. On two nearly identical plays, freshman forward Matt Blouin headed crossing passes from junior forward Chris Lee on goal from close range only to have them corralled by Adams. Senior forward Derek Gutierrez accounted for the two remaining shots on goal.

Senior goalkeeper Adam Ubert said the team felt upbeat after playing well and having many scoring opportunities through 45 minutes.

“We had a lot of chances in the first half, and at that point we were pretty much dominating the game,” he said. “We came out (after halftime) and we felt like we had a good chance to come out and control the game.”

The tide changed quickly, though, as Cincinnati broke through 2:03 into the half when freshman defender/midfielder Sam Miller ran upon a loose ball 22 yards out and launched it into the right side of the net for his first collegiate goal.

According to Adlard, poor coverage of the far post and an “unnecessary” free kick helped set Cincinnati up for the only goal it needed.

“The goal we let up was typical (of the season) in the sense that we were comfortable to the point where we forgot to mark the ball,” he said. “We marked people but we forgot to mark the ball.”

The Bearcats held the Golden Eagles to no shots in the second half, ending Marquette’s season and the collegiate careers of the team’s seven seniors.

Ubert, a four-year starter with 41 career wins in goal, said the realization that he had played his last college match hit him after the loss.

“It was hard,” he said. “It’s difficult. This has been such a big part of college life, and freshman year you never think it’s going to end and then all of a sudden it’s gone like that. The seniors, the coaches, we’re all a pretty tight bunch and it’s hard to believe we aren’t going to be playing at the Valley anymore.”

Gutierrez, who finished his career with 17 goals and 21 assists, said he wished he could have gone out on a higher note.

“I’m just really disappointed, not in the four years but in the way it ended,” he said. “To not be in the conference tournament and to have had the opportunities that we did, I feel I let down … like I should have done more personally, but it’s really disappointing to go out like this. That’s life — that’s soccer.”

The conference tournament begins at 5 p.m. Thursday in Memphis.