Crunch time for Golden Eagles

Defender Michael Alfano is confident the men's soccer team will get a good result at Connecticut Wednesday

Sir Alex Ferguson, coach of the Manchester United Football Club, once referred to the last stretch of the English Premier League soccer season as “squeaky bum time” because that’s when the pressure is on. The Marquette men’s soccer team can certainly relate considering its Big East Tournament hopes hang in the balance.

The team’s entry into the tournament would probably have been done and dusted if it managed to beat Providence, but a 1-0 defeat in Rhode Island has turned up the heat on the Golden Eagles.

If Marquette manages to defeat Pittsburgh on its final game of the season it has a chance. But before the Golden Eagles can think about Saturday, they have to prepare for a Wednesday matchup against Big East powerhouse Connecticut. The Huskies are currently in first place in the Big East and have never lost to Marquette.

“It was a big opportunity for us to pick up three points,” junior Scott Miller said of the Providence game. “Anytime you go to UConn it’s a tough game. But I think we’re up for it. I think we’ve gone into some tough environments this year and gotten results so I don’t think its anything that we haven’t seen before.”

The Huskies have outscored the Golden Eagles 10-1 in their last four appearances and in 2005, downed Marquette 6-0. Connecticut is led by Tony Casico, who currently leads the team with seven goals, and Carlos Alvarez who leads the team with 11 assists. But Miller is confident in Marquette’s caliber of play, too.

“They obviously have talented players … but I think we have guys that are talented, too,” Miller said. “I think we just need to bring an intensity in the first minutes of the game, and in the first half especially we need to set a tone about how we’re going to play and how we’re going to approach the game.”

Coach Louis Bennett, who is looking to qualify for the first Big East Tournament in the school’s history, believes the Huskies are the most sophisticated team in college soccer right now.

“It’s a team that tries to play like the pros,” Bennett said. “They’re in full bloom right now and firing on all cylinders. We need to stop that train.”

Defender Michael Alfano knows the team needs to keep a steady head if it is to get a good result from the Connecticut game.

“We have to take it game by game. This game is just as important as any other game. If all goes well with the result with UConn then we shouldn’t be nervous at all.”

Morrone Stadium has become a fortress for the Huskies, as they have won seven out of eight home games this season. Their last loss at home was on September 5 against Boston University, and they have since won seven straight at home.

“It’s difficult to hold Connecticut at home,” Bennett said. “I’m an optimist. We’ve held some of the best teams in our league. We’ve held Louisville and South Florida. A point or a win would be great. This is real soccer.”