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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Men’s Soccer: Back line becoming more defined

Photo by Elise Krivit

Defense wins championships.

Thus far in the season, however, the Marquette men’s soccer team (2-4-1) has not had the continuity needed to form a strong backline, having had to juggle its lineup as it continued to deal with injuries. Overall, 10 players have spent time on the backline.

But on Sunday, Marquette showed a glimpse of what could be the starting defensive unit for the near future: freshman Dennis Holowaty at right back, senior Michael Alfano at center back, sophomore Paul Dillon at the left back and sophomore Eric Pothast — returning from a head injury that forced him out of the 1-1 double overtime draw against Michigan State (1-5-1) Friday — at the other center back.

That unit allowed one goal, which was good enough for the Golden Eagles to pull out the 2-1 victory in double overtime on Sunday at Michigan (2-6-1).

Coach Louis Bennett said the unit performed well enough to earn another go, come Saturday’s battle at Syracuse (2-4-0).

“Even if it’s not pretty, we’ve got to keep the ball out of the back of the net,” Bennett said. “When we get some continuity, I think these guys will play well enough.”

Pothast’s improved continuity on the backline has allowed senior midfielder Calum Mallace — the team’s leading scorer in 2010 with 18 points — to shift back to the midfield.

“I felt really comfortable with the guys we had back there (Sunday),” Alfano said. “It was nice to have Pothast back because he’s always solid. You can always count on him. You know where he’s going to be. You always know what he’s going to do. He doesn’t pull things out surprisingly.”

Pothast’s return signified only the second time that the three captains on the team — Pothast, Mallace and junior midfielder Ryan Robb — played together in 2011.

“Bringing him back gave us an aerial presence and gave us the ability to play out, and it gave us calmness. He’s calm under pressure,” Bennett said. “And I thought he and Alfano worked really well together.”

Dillon, the only player to start every game on Marquette’s backline this season, hopes the unit that played Sunday will get more time together — which isn’t all within the players’ power, as injuries have done the team in thus far — because he felt a sense of comfort with that group.

“It’s been very difficult,” Dillon said of all the lineup shuffles. “You can tell (when there’s no familiarity): misplayed passes and thinking someone’s going to be in a different spot. But when you have familiar faces, you know where each other will be, and you know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and know when you have to cover for somebody and when you don’t.”

Alfano said playing with numerous defenders hasn’t been “too difficult” but that it isn’t ideal.

“It’s always different playing with a different person in each position. Everyone plays their position a little bit differently,” Alfano said. “But we’ve all been playing with each other for two years, and even when guys that are first years step in, we’re all soccer players. We all can make the adjustment and adapt to each other.”

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