Marquette Men’s Soccer: Golden Eagles get revenge, head to Red Bull Arena

Redshirt freshman defender Axel Sjoberg scored the first goal in Marquette’s win over Louisville. Photo by Vale Cardenas/valeria.cardenas@marquette.edu

Getting to Red Bull Arena for the semifinals of the Big East Tournament was a goal for Marquette before the season started.

A few things stood in the way, though. First, its two losses this season came on the road, to Georgetown and Notre Dame. It also had to win on the road against No. 12 Louisville.

After two first-half goals, No. 10 Marquette took down Louisville 2-1 and booked its trip to New Jersey, where it will take on Georgetown on Friday.

Redshirt freshman defender Axel Sjoberg opened the scoring in the 35th minute, when he headed junior midfielder Paul Dillon’s free kick from the right wing for his eighth goal of the season. It was also Dillon’s ninth assist.

Then, with under a minute to go in the first half, junior midfielder Bryan Ciesiulka sent in a cross from a free kick on the left wing, which went straight through the box into the bottom corner of the net. That goal gave Marquette a boost before halftime, knowing the Cardinals would be pressuring heavily for the equalizer in the second.

“When a team goes in after thinking they’re going in 1-0, and they go in 2-0 against them, it’s hard to stay focused,” coach Louis Bennett said. “We had the elation, so we said this game is far from over, and we felt to continue to play in the vein we started the game.”

In the second half, it was all Louisville. The Cardinals hit the crossbar and post of goalkeeper Charlie Lyon’s goal before scoring to make it 2-1 with less than four minutes remaining. Marquette held on to book its ticket to the semifinals.

“We knew they were going to try to push for some goals with us 2-0 up,” Sjoberg said. “We wanted to keep more possession than we did, and our game plan in the second half might not have worked very well. They were fighting for their lives at the end, and it’s always difficult with good teams really pushing a lot of guys forward.”

With the win, Marquette tied a program record for most wins in a season with 16, and it still has games in the Big East Tournament and NCAA Tournament remaining.

The next game will be against Georgetown, who handed the Golden Eagles their first loss of the season on Oct. 13. The Hoyas scored off two set pieces to win the game 2-1. Dead ball situations are one way Marquette is most threatening, evidenced by their two goals against Louisville.

Louisville ended Marquette’s season last year at Valley Fields, beating the Golden Eagles 1-0 in the Big East quarterfinals. After gaining their revenge against the Cardinals, the team hopes its next bit of retribution will come against Georgetown.

“I expect a good game. Georgetown is a good team,” Sjoberg said. “Last time when we played them, we didn’t really perform as a team. On a neutral ground, especially, it’s going to be a different game. We’re better prepared than when we played them and lost.”

Playing at the home of the MLS’ New York Red Bulls will be great, but the team is focused on the task at hand, which is making sure they play again on Sunday in the Big East Championship and subsequently bringing the conference title back to Milwaukee.

“That’s a great experience, and it’s something you get to enjoy and remember,” Ciesiulka said. “But at the same time, we’re playing a game there. So it’s kind of important.”