Eagles suffer stage fright, lose badly

Wednesday's match against Notre Dame at Valley Fields could make or break the men's soccer season. There is no bit of hyperbole or exaggeration in that statement.

It is just the reality Marquette (4-4-1, 1-3-1) faces after it crumbled under the pressure of playing No. 13 Connecticut on the road in a humbling 6-0 loss.

"It's pretty much everything," sophomore defender Mike Carlson said of the Notre Dame game.

The upcoming match will answer a number of questions about this team. Can the Golden Eagles, who dropped to seventh place in the Big East Blue Division with the loss, regroup? Can Marquette learn from its mistakes? Can the team cope with pressure?

At least on Saturday, the answer was an emphatic "no."

"I think a lot of people were just looking at the name of the team we were playing," said junior defender Nathan Sabich. "Like, 'Oh, we're playing UConn. These guys are good.' … The name shouldn't affect our ability to play."

"I think what really happened is we played with fear," he said.

If the national ranking was not enough, 3,041 fans showed up at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium to cheer on the Huskies.

"We were very sensitive when thousands of people start screaming against you and you are losing the game. That becomes very, very stressful until you've experienced it a few times," said head coach Steve Adlard. "If you are one-nil up in it you love the atmosphere. If you are one-nil down you are going, 'This is tough.'"

It was not long before Marquette found itself down a goal.

In the 12th minute, Carlson played an errant pass back to sophomore goalkeeper Steven Grow. Huskies' forwared Stanley Ford beat Grow to the ball and easily scored.

"I screwed up," Carlson said. "We are taught to play the ball across the keeper's body to give him options. Instead of playing it at a 45-degree angle, I

played it dead square. I grossly misplayed the ball."

That simple mistake proved to be the turning point in the match.

"I think we never recovered," Adlard said. "It undermined what the players were doing. They seemed to forget the roles they were supposed to play. And they scored easily through skillful play."

O'Brian White added the second goal in the 15th minute off assists from Ford and Moshe Shalchon. White scored again just three minutes later when he beat a scramble in the box to put Connecticut ahead 3-0.

The Huskies added one more before halftime when Chukwudi Chijindu scored off a header in the 42nd minute.

"We played well in the second half and probably should have scored at least two goals," Adlard said. "The goalkeeper (Brookfield, Wis. native Adam Schuerman) made two brilliant saves to keep the ball out of the net… The negative is as we got more and more possession and more and more chances to score we actually then got caught on the counter-attack."

Ford scored his second goal of the evening in the 63rd minute when he blasted the ball past sophomore goalkeeper Andy Kroll, who replaced Grow at halftime.

Stephen Cenatiempo capped off the scoring by netting the first goal of his career in the 83rd minute.

This article was published in The Marquette Tribune on October 4, 2005.