Billikens explode home opener

During the first half of Saturday's match against Saint Louis, No. 4 in the country, the Marquette men's soccer team dictated the flow of the game and had a superior number of quality scoring chances.

Despite the opportunities, the Golden Eagles trailed the Billikens in the only statistical category that mattered — goals.

"Soccer is a cruel game," head coach Steve Adlard said as he walked by the scorers' table 30 minutes into the match. "If this was basketball we'd be winning by 20."

Instead, the Billikens were ahead 1-0 and would go on to win the Conference USA season opener for both programs, 3-0, before 906 spectators at Valley Fields.

Senior forward Chris Lee had the first, and the best, opportunity to score the equalizer.

Six minutes into the contest, and three minutes after sophomore forward Will John scored on a corner kick to put Saint Louis ahead, Lee was turned away on a breakaway by Saint Louis' freshman goalkeeper Pat Disbennett.

The next scoring chance came in the 28th minute when junior midfielder Blair Kohlmeyer found himself near the top of the goal box with the ball at his feet and his back to the goal.

Instead of dishing the ball off to a teammate or turning and shooting, Kohlmeyer improvised and back-heeled the ball on goal, forcing Disbennett to make a diving save to his right.

"I looked around and didn't see anyone," Kohlmeyer, the second leading scorer on the team last season, said. "The first thing that came to my mind was to back heel it. You have to be creative around the goal."

Kohlmeyer got another good close range shot off five minutes later and Disbennett — who was making his collegiate debut — made another solid save.

Marquette forward freshman Mike Manone gathered up the rebound, but Disbennett denied his shot as well.

"I think the thing that stands out is that we had a lot of great possession," Adlard said. "At times we controlled the flow of the game, but it comes to very little because we're not mature yet. We're not there yet."

While Marquette failed to capitalize on its opportunities, the Billikens converted all of their chances.

"We had three shots on goal and three goals," Saint Louis head coach Dan Donigan said. "They were great finishes. There was nothing (Marquette freshman goalkeeper) Andy Kroll could have done about any of those goals.

"One was a ball that Will (John) got on top of early in the first half and then Johnny (DiRaimondo had) two breakaways. What can a keeper do? He's kind of at our mercy."

In the 83rd minute Kohlmeyer lost his composure and cursed at an official over what he perceived was a blown call. He was issued a red card and ejected from the game.

"I think that's just a natural emotion, an emotional response to playing well and having great territorial advantage and then finding you'd suddenly conceded another goal," Adlard said. He added that Kohlmeyer's outburst was unacceptable and foolish. "Unfortunately I almost saw it coming because he tries so hard and he fights so hard. His stability when he's tired becomes a little questionable."

The Golden Eagles played one man short the rest of the match and gave up DiRaimondo's second goal with four minutes to play.

"The score (was) not indicative of the game," Donigan said. "They are going to beat a lot of good teams this year and I've always liked the way they battle and fight … we were fortunate to get the goals we got."