Men’s Soccer Has Successful Preseason

Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics
Kelmend Islami scored two second-half goals to draw with top-ranked Indiana. Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics

In their first action of the season, the men’s soccer team played two preseason matches and came away with a 2-0 victory over Wright State and a 3-3 draw with No. 1 Indiana, the defending national champions.

Although the games do not count toward the regular season, the players shook off the rust, re-familiarized themselves with their teammates and allowed new players to have a taste of Marquette soccer.

On Thursday, Marquette took on national powerhouse Indiana at the Shindigz National Soccer Festival in Fort Wayne, Ind.

The Golden Eagles surrendered the opening tally in the fifth minute, before redshirt sophomore Axel Sjoberg answered with a volley in 13th minute to level the score. Constant pressure from the Hoosier offense forced mistakes in the Marquette backfield resulting in a 3-1 Indiana lead heading into the intermission.

“If we were a boxer, we would have had to have taken a knee and counted to ten because the first twenty minutes it was a helter-skelter,” coach Louis Bennett said. “They were forcing us to make mistakes and then they were countering from high positions.”

Lots of changes were made by both sides in the second half, which shifted the momentum of the game. After some opportunities early on, junior forward Kelmend Islami ripped a shot from 20 yards out and cut the lead to 3-2.

Islami scored again in the 86th minute as he drew a penalty kick and found the top corner to tie the game at three.

The Golden Eagles and Hoosiers fought for another goal in the final minutes, but the game ended in a 3-3 draw.

“We looked pretty solid, we can improve on things,” Islami said. It was fun playing against the number one team in the country. Hopefully, we can take over.”

On Aug. 17, Marquette took on Wright State and cruised to a 2-0 victory. The team struggled in their first contest since the spring season and got off to a scoreless first half against Wright State, where the Raiders earned eight corner kicks. Two goals in the second half secured the win for the Golden Eagles.

In his Marquette debut, freshman Coco Navarro scored the first goal off freshman Louis Bennett II, who headed the ball to the open Navarro for the tap in the 67th minute. C. Nortey, who missed all of last season due to injury, added a goal in the 76th minute. He totaled three points in his return.

Defense gave up 13 corners during the night, six in the first three-minutes. All four goalies on Marquette’s roster saw action and were able to record shutouts with the help of solid defensive play.

“It was a good time to get back into playing with each other after being gone for the summer,” redshirt junior goalkeeper Charlie Lyon said. “Coming away with a 2-0 result, that’s a good way to start the preseason.”

With the preseason in the books, Marquette now focuses on the regular season, which begins Friday Aug. 30 against Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the annual Milwaukee Cup. The game takes place at Engelmann Field on UWM’s campus at 7:30 p.m.