WVU comes to Valley Fields to face men’s soccer

Without even playing each other or seeing footage, the Marquette and West Virginia men’s soccer teams should have a pretty good idea of how their match will play out this weekend.

Four games into Big East conference play, the Golden Eagles and Mountaineers have played the same opponents: Cincinnati, DePaul, Louisville and South Florida.

Each team’s results for each game have been different, which makes it hard to predict a favorite going into Saturday’s match, when the two teams will face off at Valley Fields.

“This will certainly be different than our previous Big East games,” coach Louis Bennett said. “West Virginia is a very good and resilient team. They’re very explosive and have some exciting players.”

West Virginia (4-2-2, 3-1 Big East) comes into Milwaukee riding a three-game win streak. Aside from defeating Cincinnati 2-0, the Mountaineers have defeated South Florida and DePaul in consecutive games — both victories coming in overtime. In their Big East opener, the Mountaineers suffered a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Louisville.

Marquette (2-4-2, 1-1-2 Big East) is not far behind, though, also defeating Cincinnati and recording ties against Louisville and South Florida, who were both top-10 teams at the time. Against DePaul, the Golden Eagles held a 1-0 advantage with seven minutes remaining, but allowed two late goals and walked away empty-handed.

“If we play our own game, we should be able to compete with anyone in the nation,” sophomore defender Michael Alfano said. “We like playing against the highest competition, and we have this inner belief that we can play with anybody.”

In Marquette’s 2-2 draw against Louisville Sunday, Alfano played all 110 minutes in the back and was thrilled with the team’s comeback. The Golden Eagles scored two second half goals and proved they are never out of a game.

“Stepping up to the challenge — that’s what we’re all about this year,” Alfano said. “Every Big East game is definitely important because our road to the NCAA tournament is through the Big East.”

Freshman forward Andrew Krynski is pleased with Marquette’s play as of late and said the team has gained momentum because of it.

“For West Virginia, we just need to be mentally tough,” he said. “We’re on a good streak right now. We won versus Cincinnati and came back with a big tie against Louisville. We just have to keep that momentum going and we’ll get better results.”

In the match against Louisville, Krynski replaced fellow freshman Adam Lysak in the 76th minute. Just 11 minutes later, Krynski assisted on sophomore Amilcar Herrera’s game-tying goal.

“From the forward standpoint, we just have to keep working harder,” Krynski said. “When we get the chances we have to finish them, because if we keep scoring we’ll start winning more games.”

Herrera had also subbed into the game just two minutes prior to his goal, which shows Bennett’s nose for offensive production.

“Finding ways to break down tough defenses, creating opportunities and keeping possession are three things we’re really focusing on,” Bennett said. “Now, we progress from being competitive and tying games to winning games and being where we eventually want to be.”

Although Bennett is focused on preparation for West Virginia, he couldn’t hide his excitement for the upcoming match.

“It’ll be a good game,” he said, “and it’s just a fantastic and exciting part of the year right now.”