Men’s soccer team headed in right direction

Calum Mallace (5) took a huge step forward for Marquette this season and was a large part of the team’s best record since joining the Big East.
Calum Mallace (5) took a huge step forward for Marquette this season and was a large part of the team’s best record since joining the Big East.

Men’s soccer coach Louis Bennett has managed to continue his streak of ending the season with one more win than he had the previous season. The team managed only four wins, yet this year was different.

For the first time in Marquette’s history, the men’s soccer team defeated more than one Big East opponent in a single season and qualified for the Big East Tournament. However, it was dropped from the tournament this past weekend by South Florida, 2-1.

Even though the early exit was painful for the Golden Eagles, Bennett sees this as a major advancement for the program.

“It felt great,” Bennett said. “It was one of our goals. Achieving one of the goals that we had on the year was important. It was a huge step in the ladder. Winning would have been a bigger step.

“The last 12 minutes were probably the most exciting minutes of the season.”

Marquette’s season was plagued with ups and downs. Early preseason success against Michigan and Kentucky and a season-opening win over crosstown rival Wisconsin-Milwaukee showed great promise for the Golden Eagles, but they lost four of their next six games.

“This season we blew in the wind a little bit,” Bennett said. “Sometimes we would play well against the good teams and we wouldn’t play well against the poorer teams.

“The rollercoaster takes its toll, and it can put an element of doubt in you.”

But draws against Big East powerhouses South Florida and Louisville and wins against Cincinnati, Georgetown and Pittsburgh showed great promise heading into the Big East Tournament.

“It was a great experience and a great game. It was a hard fought battle,” forward Calum Mallace said. “It definitely had that playoff feel of if you win you advance, if you lose you’re done.”

Mallace had a breakout season this year leading the team in shots and shots on goal with 50 and 24, respectively, and was second in goals with three — all game-winners. Mallace was really proud of his team’s performance this year and believed it was a fresh-looking squad.

“Everyone this year was on the same page,” he said. “We had the right people with the right mindset. We wanted nothing but to win.”

Goalkeeper Matt Pyzdrowski is unique because he is the only player to play five years for Bennett, playing under him at UW-Milwaukee. His tenure under Bennett came to an end against the Bulls but is proud of his time here.

“Obviously it was really emotional,” Pyzdrowski said. “It didn’t hit me until this weekend when the game was over. This program means a lot to me. … I’m definitely very proud of what we’ve done.”

But Pyzdrowski is confident in handing over the reigns to the younger players and expects them to step up next year as true Big East contenders.

“They are great characters that will be able to lead this program, and I think we’ve gotten to the point where we’ve established a culture. … Everyone knows how the program’s run and no one is straying away from the program like in years past,” he said. “I definitely think that they are in the right direction going forward.”