New conference, new players, new attitude

The new players possess skills that were in short supply on last year's team, but the biggest difference between this season and last is not tangible or even quantifiable.

There is a selfless attitude that the entire team has bought into. Prompted in part by a desire to avenge last year's disappointing 6-11-1 (2-6-1 in Conference USA) record and the realization that competition in the Big East will only be tougher, there are no traces of a "me first" attitude.

"We really have the same mindset this year. We all want to be on top of things, be on time, work hard (and) push each other because we want to be successful in the Big East," said junior midfielder Matt Soper.

Added freshman forward Duncan Silvert-Noftle: "I don't really care who scores the goals. I'm not selfish or anything. I like to see the whole team score, and I just want a win more than anything."

Last season the outcome of Marquette games hinged largely on the ability of one person to score: Chris Lee. When the senior captain found the back of the net, Marquette was 4-3-1, but when he was shut out the Golden Eagles were just 2-8.

Lee's shoot-first propensity resulted in a one-dimensional attack and prevented the midfielders from getting involved in the scoring.

During his sophomore season in 2003, Blair Kohlmeyer scored seven goals, but last year the outside midfielder netted just one. Starting center midfielder Bryan Dahlquist was also primed for a breakout season in 2004, but he recorded only one point as a sophomore.

Head coach Steve Adlard hopes Lee's graduation will change the complexion of the offense and create opportunities for both of those players.

"Now you're praying that these people can share the wealth," Adlard said. "Somebody's going to score eight, somebody's going to score six, somebody's going to score three and a midfielder is going to score four. And you're going to say that's what was missing last year.

"… If you (the opponent) know there are half a dozen guys trying to score goals it's very hard to say, 'Oh, we're going to mark every one of them.' I think that's what we're looking for."

Among returning players, the scoring is likely to be spread between Kohlmeyer, Dahlquist and junior forward Matt Blouin, the team's three captains. Blouin, who totaled 11 goals and three assists while playing in Lee's shadow for the past two years, seems more than capable of becoming the target forward.

A number of freshmen are also expected to contribute to the Marquette attack this season. Among them is Silvert-Noftle, who scored 41 goals during his senior year in high school and has spent the preseason playing up top with Blouin.

"He's an experienced player, so it definitely helps out a lot. It takes some pressure off of me," Silvert-Noftle said. "He's kind of playing in front of me and demanding the ball from our center midfielders and our outside midfielders, and then I'm making runs out wide and he's trying to play it to me. … We've only been playing together for a few weeks, and I think its looking good."

The same could be said of the entire team.

This article was published in The Marquette Tribune on September 1, 2005.