Improving against the elite

MSoccAside from the score and the color of their jerseys, the difference between Marquette and Louisville’s men’s soccer teams was not so black and white Sunday afternoon. The Golden Eagles rallied back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with the No. 9 Cardinals late in the second half.

For the third time in five games, Marquette played a top 10 team.

Marquette entered the match-up fresh from its 1-0 double overtime win over Cincinnati on Friday and were looking to repeat against the 5-1-1 Cardinals, a team coach Louis Bennett has never bested in his four years at Marquette.

However, the Golden Eagles failed to start strong and gave up a dubious penalty inside the Louisville box in just the 4th minute. Midfielder Freddie Braun converted the penalty, sending the ball into the upper left corner of the net as Marquette goalkeeper Matt Pyzdrowski dove the other way.

Marquette tried to rally back with a shot on goal in the 14th minute, but the Cardinal defense cleared the ball off the line. Marquette’s chances of recovering became more difficult in the 23rd minute after giving up another goal. After a long assist, Louisville forward Mark Knight put the ball into the back of the net after his first shot rebounded off Pyzdrowski.

“I thought we gave the game away in the first 25 minutes,” Bennett said. “I thought we came out flat — like a team that had played double overtime two nights earlier. I would say 90 percent of the things we did, we did incorrectly. We didn’t recognize ourselves.”

Even though the Golden Eagles were down 2-0, they continued to scrape and fight their way back. Offensively, Louisville and Marquette were evenly matched, with seven shots and seven corner kicks to Louisville’s six and two, respectively. Two defensive errors cost them, but they managed to fight back in the second half.

As the rain began to pour down on Valley Fields, it only took 12 minutes into the second half for Marquette to find the back of the net.

Louisville committed a foul outside the Marquette box, setting up a set piece from 30 yards out. Initially, Amilcar Herrera ran over the ball, but Billy Von Rueden took the shot across the grass and into the back of the net past the diving Louisville goalkeeper.

“The game plan shone through in the second half,” Von Rueden said. “We really wanted to start with that in the first half. We cleaned our wounds (at halftime) and then came on and did what we were supposed to do.”

It would take two minutes from time, however, for Marquette to find the breakthrough they needed. Herrera found a pass from Andrew Krynski, turned, and fired the ball into the left corner of the net.

“I got a cross from Krynski, I was just in the box by myself, took a touch and concentrated on putting the ball in the back of the net,” Herrera said. “Luckily it just went in.”

Bennett, who was looking for the win, was disappointed that the team didn’t get it but feels the team is almost capable of beating a top 10 team.

“I don’t think it’s personnel. I think its belief and it’s people playing up to their potential,” Bennett said. “When those guys can put pressure on any defense, any shape or form, I think (we will play) pretty well.”