Eagles eyeing tourney

At the start of the 2004 season, there are 199 teams competing in Division I men's soccer, according to the NCAA web site.

On Nov. 15 the field will be reduced to 48 for the national tournament and members of the Marquette program are intent on making the first cut.

"Making the NCAA Tournament is not a distant goal," head coach Steve Adlard, now in his 13th season at Marquette, said. "It's a real challenge that's going to drive everything we do."

Added senior captain Chris Lee, "We want to make it the NCAA Tournament and do well. No player on the team has ever been there and I'd like to go out as a senior [with a tournament berth]."

For the Golden Eagles to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1997, it is likely Lee, a member of the preseason All-Conference team, will need another strong season.

In 2003 the forward tallied 14 goals and two assists and was named to both the first team All-Conference USA and the National Soccer Coaches Association of America third team All-Great Lakes Region.

His 0.82 goals per match average led the conference; however, the statistic is a bit deceptive. He scored 10 of his goals in a six game stretch.

"For us to be successful he can't score in bunches," Adlard said. "I've told him that game in and game out he needs to be productive."

Sophomore midfielder Matt Blouin will join Lee up front. Last season Blouin started 10 matches and scored four goals, third best on the team. As a senior at St. Thomas Aquinas in Lenexa, Kan., Blouin scored 35 goals and was named Kansas' State Player of the year.

Blouin is just one member of the Class of 2007 Adlard expects to play a large role in the upcoming season.

"Bryan Dahlquist is poised to be successful at midfield," Adlard said. "Last year he was coming off knee surgery and it took him a long time to get fit. He's solid now."

"Nathan Sabich played all the games at sweeper and he will do the same this year."

Adlard believes the experience they gained during last year's, 9-9-1 (4-4-1 C-USA), season will pay off this year.

"There were so many new players last year (14 freshmen) that we were working at an introductory level and getting them to understand what the college game is about," Adlard said. "Now that they understand that, we've moved on and our team concepts are more sophisticated."

Similar to last season, the 2004 squad will rely on a strong contribution from the freshmen class.

With the graduation of four-year letter winner Adam Ubert, Adlard figures freshman Andy Kroll will see most of the minutes in goal. Kroll is from Portage, Mich., but spent his senior year of high school at the IMG Soccer Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Freshman Steven Grow is also expected to play goal for Marquette.

Strong play by the young goalies will be needed for the team to achieve its goal. However, senior captain Danny Mullin believes the key to a postseason appearance is much simpler.

"I know this is an overused cliché, but we need to take it one game at a time," he said. "We play Davidson, they went to the NCAA Tournament last year, and we can't look ahead to Saturday's home opener against Saint Louis.

"In years past it's been an early loss that hurt us and then we look back and say if only we'd won that game."

Men's Soccer Home Opener

Vs. Saint Louis

7 p.m. Saturday, Valley Fields

Outlook

Marquette is picked to finish sixth in the preseason conference poll. In 2002 the same thing happened and the Golden Eagles wound up with a share of the regular-season C-USA title … The Golden Eagles were 8-2 at home last year … Saint Louis is picked to finish atop C-USA and is the No. 4 ranked team in the NSCAA/Adidas Preseason Poll … On Aug. 6 Saint Louis announced that All-American forward Vedad Ibisevic had signed a pro contract with the French first division club Paris St. Germain and will no longer play for the Billikens … Will John, a sophomore midfielder and forward for Saint Louis, was selected as the Preseason Co-Player-of-the-Year in C-USA … Last year the teams played to a 0-0 draw at Saint Louis. At the time the Billikens were No. 7 in the country.