Marquette Men’s Soccer: Easy win sets up showdown with Louisville Saturday

After its 3-0 win Wednesday night against Cincinnati, Marquette will head to Louisville to take on the Cardinals in the Big East Tournament quarterfinals Saturday night.

First half goals from Axel Sjoberg and Kelmend Islami gave the Golden Eagles the early advantage, and Andy Huftalin scored his 10th goal of the season in the second half to ice the win.

“Anytime anyone can say ‘business as usual,’ that means we’ve done really well and worked really hard to get the job done,” coach Louis Bennett said.

In a game it was expected to win, Marquette was looking to get back on track after a loss last Wednesday against Notre Dame and then a 1-1 draw against the Fighting Irish last Saturday night.

“For our guys, we were just very pragmatic tonight,” Bennett said. “We kept the level of frustration down. Even if our level of frustration with certain things might have been up, our players kept their level of frustration down, and they continued to piece-by-piece dismantle them.”

Sjoberg opened the scoring in the 21st minute when he flicked in junior Paul Dillon’s cross from the right wing. It was the Swedish redshirt freshman’s seventh goal of the season and Dillon’s eighth assist.

Then 20 mintues later, sophomore Sebastian Jansson flew a cross in from the left wing, which fellow sophomore forward Kelmend Islami controlled and slotted in the top corner as he was turning to his right.

Huftalin finished the night a goal in the 82nd minute when he slotted home Islami’s cross from the right wing.

“Since it was the first game of the Big East championship, we wanted to qualify for the next round, so that was the main thing for today,” Sjoberg said. “We came out and got an early goal, so from there on it was mostly us I thought.”

Redshirt sophomore Charlie Lyon tied a single-season program record of 10 shutouts with the clean sheet against the Bearcats. He ties Steve McCullough’s record, set back in 1994.

Lyon was quick to heap praise on the rest of the defense, stating it isn’t an individual honor, but a team one.

“It’s exciting and I’m proud that we did it, but it’s a team thing,” Lyon said. “There are a lot of guys in front of me that do a lot of work before the ball gets to me. I’m ultimately responsible for what happens in front of the net, but there are a lot of guys that work extremely hard and have to listen to me yell at them.”

Next up is a rematch against Louisville, who ended Marquette’s season last fall in the Big East Tournament. A win then against the Cardinals might have improved the Golden Eagles’ résumé to the point where they might have made the NCAA Tournament.

The winner advanced to the Red Bull Arena, where the last two rounds of the Big East Tournament are held.

That is one of Marquette’s goals this season, which means there will not be any need for motivation on Saturday night against Louisville.

“I don’t think there’s any problem with motivation,” Sjoberg said. “We’re going to be coming in fighting with our fists. It’s going to be a great game. Being away is different.

“At home we’re really strong, but away we’ve been pretty strong, but it’s another round of the Big East championship. We’re going to fight them as hard as possible and hopefully go to Red Bull.”