National rank no match for Eagles

Dave Rossetti

The Golden Eagles had to weather a strong comeback effort from Conference USA rival Memphis and a near-costly mistake with six seconds remaining before securing the win, 3-2.

“I thought we fought very hard,” said head coach Steve Adlard. “Was it spectacle? I think it must have been a great game to watch.”

Junior forward Chris Lee got Marquette jump-started, putting a shot past Memphis goalkeeper Clark Talley on a breakaway in the fifth minute. Senior Tony Walby and freshman Bryan Dahlquist assisted on the play.

Lee struck again 30 minutes later, streaking down the field right of goal before putting a hard shot past a diving Talley for his fifth goal of the season. Senior Derek Gutierrez and sophomore Blair Kohlmeyer collected assists.

Adlard said Lee, who has put nine shots on goal over his last three games, was too much for Memphis to handle.

“I thought he was quick off the mark,” Adlard said. “He scored two goals and he could have had three or four.”

Marquette dropped back into prevent mode after taking the 2-0 lead, but the complexion of the match changed when freshman defender Nathan Sabich was called for a handball inside the goalie box. Memphis’ Dayton O”Brien blasted the penalty kick past Marquette’s guessing goalkeeper, senior Adam Ubert, bringing the score to 2-1.

Memphis scored again three minutes later, when O’Brien headed John Reilly’s lofted crossing pass past Ubert.

Marquette battled back and broke the tie in the 78th minute when Brian Schnell lobbed a pass toward the goal. Kohlmeyer collected it and put it on net for what would prove to be the game-winner.

But the drama wasn’t over.

In the 84th minute, Ubert came up with a pair of spectacular saves on a pair of back-to-back pointblank shots from Memphis’ Daniel Dobson and Omar Jarun.

Playing a man down following Dobson’s ejection for collecting his second yellow card, the Tigers had one last golden opportunity when a Marquette foul gave them a free kick within the goalie box with six seconds remaining.

With the clock stopped, O’Brien fired his free kick over a wall of Marquette defenders only to have it deflected over the crossbar by Ubert. Time expired before Memphis could get off a corner kick.

Walby said he was relieved Marquette came away with the victory.

“It was pretty crazy,” he said. “The ref called a foul and you kind of just have to play it as he calls it. (The Tigers) definitely were putting pressure on at the end. Sometimes wins aren’t pretty but a wins a win.”

With six saves, many of them clutch, Walby called Ubert “MVP of the game.”

“He played out of his mind,” he said. “He clearly saved us. I definitely gave him a big hug after the game.”

Noting that his team was out shot 13-11 and received only five corner kicks to Memphis’ 10, Adlard said he would take the win.

“Some of it comes down to that it must have been your night — you’ve come away lucky,” he said. “Wow. It’s your day, go home and enjoy it.”

However, injuries plagued Marquette’s defense. Gutierrez ended up playing stopper after senior Zach McCallum, who slid over to replace starting stopper Danny Mullin after he departed with a leg injury, left the game himself with a left leg cramp. Adlard said the injuries made containing Memphis’ big scoring threats — Jarun and Andy Metcalf — difficult. The duo accounted for eight Memphis shots.

“You’ve got the devil and the deep blue sea,” Adlard said. “Which one do you cover?”

Though it was a tough win, Adlard said the game was a great experience for the Golden Eagles.

“I’m probably feeling better about it because we had to fight our way and we’ll learn more.”

The Golden Eagles (5-5-1, 3-3-1 in C-USA) host Wright State 7-2 at 7 p.m. tonight at Valley Fields.