Marquette Men’s Soccer Loses and Draws in Opening Weekend

Axel Sjoberg scored Marquette's only goal in a 3-1 loss to Notre Dame Wednesday night. Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.
Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.

The Marquette men’s soccer team couldn’t pull out a victory this weekend, losing to UW-Milwaukee 2-1 in the Milwaukee Cup Friday and drawing with UW-Green Bay 3-3 Sunday.

During the Milwaukee Cup, the defense struggled early, conceding a goal in the first minute. After some defensive miscommunication on a free kick, the Panthers’ Declan Rodriguez received a cross at the far post and scored to take the lead.

Marquette caught a break in the 16th minute when a Milwaukee defender attempted to head the ball to the keeper, not knowing that redshirt sophomore forward C. Nortey was behind him.  The mistake gave Nortey a one-on-one with the keeper and he buried the chance to level the game at one.

The deadlock would not last for long. In the 27th minute, the Panthers’ Rami Younes made a great move to beat senior defender Paul Dillon, ran down the line, and played a cross to Austin Toth, who placed it in the far corner for the 2-1 lead.

The Golden Eagles had two quality opportunities within the first five minutes of the second half, but Panther goalkeeper Liam Anderson made some phenomenal saves to preserve the lead and bring the Milwaukee Cup back to UWM.

“They were able to put their chance away and we didn’t convert,” redshirt junior goalkeeper Charlie Lyon said. “I think it’s something we can fix and put into the (Green Bay game).”

Sunday’s match saw more goals, even without co-captain senior midfielder Bryan Ciesiulka, who suffered a concussion in the Milwaukee Cup. It still wasn’t the result Marquette wanted.

Once again, Marquette surrendered the first goal. Phoenix forward Sebastian Xiong fired a shot from 18 yards out that careened off the post and in.

Marquette did not have a quality chance until late in the half when freshman defender Jake Taylor made a run from midfield and drew a penalty kick in the 43rd minute.  Redshirt sophomore defender Axel Sjoberg stepped up to the spot for what was sure to be the equalizer, but the Phoenix goalkeeper Kyle Ihn saved the shot.

Minutes later though, another chance arose on a Marquette corner that bounced around the box until it found junior forward Kelmend Islami. His shot was saved but rebounded to Taylor, who tapped it in for his first goal in blue and gold.

Following a Phoenix goal in the first minute of the second half, freshman midfielder Louis Bennett II played a corner into the box and Taylor headed it home to level the game once again.

Coming off the bench, Taylor did not expect to score two goals, but he made a great impression to establish himself as a solid option on defense.

“I was just looking to help the team as much as possible and whatever happens is going to happen so I’m just glad I could make an impact on the game,” Taylor said.

Ten minutes after Taylor’s goal, Dillon played a cross into the box where freshman forward Coco Navarro volleyed it in for the Golden Eagle’s first lead of the season.

However, another defensive breakdown in the 85th minute led to an equalizer from Green Bay and the game went into overtime.

Two scoreless periods later, the draw stood and Marquette fell to 0-1-1 on the season.

The team was disappointed with its opening weekend.  The defense, which gave up 17 goals all of last season, gave up five goals in the opening two matches.  Coach Louis Bennett hopes to tighten up the defense so this is not a recurring issue.

“That part of the field is the most experienced of the whole team,” Bennett said.  “We need to clarify and re-establish the roles and responsibilities when we’re trying to stop the ball from going in the net.”

Marquette returns to action Friday night against Bowling Green at 5 p.m. at Engelmann Field on UW-Milwaukee’s campus.