Eagles fall in heated exhibition match

Men’s soccer coach Louis Bennett compared his team’s 1-0 loss to Northern Illinois with trying to fit an orange through a funnel. The Golden Eagles continually pushed and pushed but were unable break through the Huskies’ defense.

“I thought we played OK,” Bennett said. “It was fitting because (NIU) is very in-your-face and very direct,” Bennett said. “They’re a difficult team to play against because they leave six in the back and the way we wanted to play we couldn’t get into the flow.”

The Golden Eagles, 3-1 before Saturday, found a consistent rhythm of play that allowed them to make their way to the opponent’s goal while protecting their own goal using a fortified defense. But the Huskies confined Marquette to the middle of the pitch and denied it the opportunity to find the back of the net.

“After they scored they packed in so it was definitely frustrating in the attacking third because we couldn’t get much going,” sophomore forward Callum Mallace said.

Junior midfielder Anthony Colaizzi thought the Huskies’ direct style of play was something the Golden Eagles weren’t used to.

“They just like to ram it down your throat,” he said. “We’ve seen teams like that but the Big East is more ‘pretty soccer.'”

At times, Marquette’s frustration reached a boiling point and the match became chippy and plagued with fouls rarely seen in a spring exhibition match. But Mallace, who is learning to check his temper, believes it was simply a result of two powerful Division 1 schools going head-to-head.

“Personally, I don’t think I played that well today but it happens,” Mallace said. “It was a game with two very competitive Division 1 teams and we always want to win especially on our own field, we don’t want anyone kicking us around, and you know we are going to give it back to them.

“I always get a little riled up, which I need to learn from definitely, but they had a couple of late (fouls) on our guys so we told the referee to deal with it, otherwise we were going to have to deal with it.”

Bennett understands that at times soccer matches can get heated and he enjoys watching the enthusiasm that his team has showcased of late, but would like his players to channel their energy and stay sharp while on the ball.

“They played very tough and very direct and we were on our field so we weren’t going to stand down to them,” Bennett said. “Part of me says good job but part of me says we need to keep that but stay on our game plan.”

For Colaizzi, the team’s confidence as a unit has risen to the point that losing any match, exhibition or Big East conference game, would be below its expectations.

“Now that we’re becoming a better team, we’re a lot more competitive every game,” Colaizzi said. “We’re in every game, so losing a game is a lot more rough. Losing a game to a good team is not acceptable anymore.”