Eagles spring into action

As far as casual soccer fans are concerned, the college spring season doesn't mean much. The games are shorter, they don't count in the standings and no titles or tournament berths are won or lost.

However, men's soccer coach Steve Adlard, whose Golden Eagles hosted the MU Tournament at Valley Fields Saturday, said this is the prime time to plan for next season.

"(We're trying) to establish a style of play that we think is going to be effective with these players in the fall," Adlard said. "If you get it right, the preseason moves forward very smoothly. If you get it wrong, it becomes a real handicap."

In its three games Saturday, the team beat Wisconsin-Oshkosh, 3-0, while falling to Northwestern, 1-0, and Lewis, 2-1.

Despite the two losses, Adlard said he thinks the team, which is young with 14 freshmen, continued its spring-long string of smooth play Saturday.

"I think we're very comfortable," he said. "We're playing more sophisticated, team-oriented soccer. I think there is a more cohesive game plan today than there was in the fall, which is understandable when you consider we had so many new players. We're eight months down the road now and should be more cohesive."

In the day's first contest against Northwestern, the Golden Eagles allowed a goal within the game's first three minutes. The team settled down from that point on, tightening up on defense and creating some offensive chances.

"I just don't think we were ready to play," Adlard said of the early goal. "I think we dominated the territory for the rest of the game and I don't think the other team got many kicks."

Marquette spent most of the day without junior forward Chris Lee as last year's conference-leading scorer pulled up with a hamstring injury 10 minutes into the Northwestern game.

"That's a significant blow to the team in that he is tremendously hot right now," Adlard said. "It really affected us. We've been very impressed with what he's done this spring; (freshman forward Matt) Blouin and him are forming a great bond."

The Golden Eagles had no problems finding the net without their star scorer against UW-Oshkosh. The squad scored three times in the 60-minute match, including a nifty left-footed goal from Blouin.

Sophomore midfielder Blair Kohlmeyer, who scored the first goal against UW-Oshkosh on a set play from 20 yards out, netted the only goal for Marquette in the team's 2-1 loss to Lewis.

Adlard said he was pleased with the weekend's results, pointing out the play and leadership of Kohlmeyer, Blouin, Lee, junior defender Danny Mullin, freshman defender Nathan Sabich and freshman midfielder Bryan Dahlquist as positives upon which the team can build.

However, Mullin, who will be counted upon for strong leadership along with Lee, said the team was unhappy that its effort didn't translate into more victories.

"Overall we were pretty disappointed with the results that we got, but there were certainly some things that were encouraging," he said. "We would have liked the results to have reflected how we played."

Despite losing seven seniors to graduation, Adlard said he's not surprised that there are no glaring weaknesses apparent on his squad.

"From the minute we finished in the fall we've been moving to give these guys responsibility to play," Adlard said. "The way it's shaping up here is that there are enough (players) who are enthusiastic and hopeful that they will fill the gap, which is good. We're just moving forward."

The Golden Eagles return to action at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday when they host UW-Green Bay at Valley Fields. At 8 p.m., Marquette will play the Olympic Development Program team, a squad of Wisconsin players born in 1986. UW-Green Bay takes on the ODP team at 6:45 p.m.