Eagles dig deeper hole with stagnant attack

Everyone has an opinion, but so far no one has an answer when the subject turns to the men's soccer team and its non-existent offense.

"We've been shut out in something like five of our last six games," said assistant coach Barry Bimbi. "Everyone is trying too hard. We're tense in front of the net. We need to be relaxed."

Bimbi is correct. Including Saturday's 1-0 loss to Pittsburgh at Valley Fields,

Marquette has scored in just one of its past six games. The lone exception is a 2-1 rain-soaked victory over Louisville Sept. 25 at Valley Fields.

"It seems like we do real well until the last aspect," said Rob Walton, a junior who started at outside midfielder against the Panthers. "We had a couple opportunities where the goalie made the save right on the line. Sometimes we're not ready to finish or not used to the situation."

Marquette altered its formation for the game, switching from a 4-4-2 to a 4-3-3.

The third forward helped the Golden Eagles generate more chances — they had nearly four times as many shots as the Panthers (18 to five) and three times as many shots on goal (nine to three) — but ultimately did not affect the scoring drought.

"We need to be more demanding in the box," said head coach Steve Adlard, "and pull the trigger instead of just going through the motions of finishing the shot.

"We are trying to play the perfect shot with poise and shape instead of just going BANG! And the man is coming BANG! And just, just PSSH! Pull the trigger," Adlard said. "We are trying to do it with an extra second and a little bit more care. It can't be that. And that's really where it came unglued because it just gives the defense that extra little bit of time to get back and get the rebound if it comes to it. Which they did."

Unfortunately for Marquette, the person who understands Adlard's admonition best watched the game from the bench with a boot on his left foot. Junior forward Matt Blouin sprained ligaments in his left foot during Wednesday's game against Notre Dame. Blouin said the doctors predict he will be out for at least two weeks.

"We need to be more aggressive in the box," said Blouin, who has scored once this year but netted seven goals in 2004. "One good game where we score three, four or five goals will break us loose."

If history is any indication, Wednesday's game against Wisconsin-Green Bay is a prime candidate for just such an offensive blowout. Chris Lee, a 2005 graduate, scored a hat trick against the Phoenix a year ago in leading Marquette to a 3-1 victory.

Even if Marquette tallies a few goals against Green Bay and proceeds to go on a prolific scoring spree, there is not guarantee it will do any good.

After Matt Firster knocked Steve Cavalier's cross into the back of the Marquette net in the 52nd minute for the lone goal, the Golden Eagles (4-6-1, 1-5-1) fell to the bottom of the eight-team Blue Division with just four points. Pittsburgh (2-5-0) is two points ahead of them in the standing and Georgetown (3-4-0) is in sixth with nine points.

The Golden Eagles have just three conference games left. Saturday they travel to fourth place Providence (2-1-4) and a week later they host Georgetown. The squad closes out Big East play Oct. 29 against first place West Virginia (4-2-1) at Valley Fields.

This article was published in The Marquette Tribune on October 11, 2005.