Marquette Wire

Men’s Soccer ready for Milwaukee showdown

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Chris Madsen plays against UWM Friday, Sept. 7. Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.

The last time men’s soccer coach Louis Bennett brought Marquette to Engelmann Stadium to battle the Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers, Bennett said the “single biggest crowd to ever see a college game in (Milwaukee)” was on hand.

On Friday Bennett will bring his team back to challenge the Panthers for the first time since they ruined Marquette’s 2010 season opener in a 4-2 loss at Valley Fields.

“I think (this game) should be called the “Milwaukee People’s Cup” because this is for the (Milwaukee) community,” Bennett said. “This is all the people who love college soccer. (They) show up to this game. It always attracts close to 2,000 people.”

Milwaukee (2-1) enters Friday’s match on a two game winning streak after defeating Western Illinois (2-0) and Western Michigan (4-0) over the weekend to win the Panther Invitational — the event Marquette finished second at.

In Marquette’s 1-0 loss to Western Illinois it accumulated 20 shots — the most since Oct. 6, 2004 — but failed to convert a single shot into a goal.

“Finishing has been a huge problem for us. We had (20) shots against Western Illinois, and we only had eight on target, which for us is terrible,” said junior midfielder Ryan Robb.  “(Bennett) expects that at least 80 percent of our shots are on target. That’s not to say it’s just the forward guy, but it’s myself included and the other midfielder guys.”

The defense looks to get its senior leader, Michael Alfano, back Friday on the heels of losing freshman defender Axel Sjoberg for four to six weeks with a right foot injury.

Alfano practiced without a jersey on Tuesday, designating him for no contact, Bennett said. On Monday he had said that if Alfano could practice without the jersey by midweek he would play Friday.

If Alfano can go, Bennett said the ideal plan for the backline would be for Alfano to assume the right back position and for freshman defender Jon Mau to take over the center back position — his natural position according to Bennett.

Rather than competing for the Panther Invitational title, as the two teams did this past weekend, Friday will be a battle for the Milwaukee Cup. Marquette earned this trophy in 2009 after a 1-0 victory, but it has since spent the past year in the Panthers’ paws.

“Whenever we play UWM it’s always going to be a tough game no matter how strong or weak their side is because it’s a cross-town rivalry,” redshirt sophomore forward Adam Lysak said. “On that day every tackle will have a little extra ‘oomph’ on it. Everything’s going to be a little harder and a little faster than what would be considered normal.”

Robb said the team hasn’t forgotten about the licking it received on opening day 2010.

“We need to return the favor. There’s no excuses now,” Robb said. “I think last year we were embarrassed. We had a huge crowd, and they came out and stuck it to us. We need to go put a big one on them in front of their fans to show them that we mean business.”

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