Men’s Soccer atop Big East after victory over Seton Hall

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With just 10 minutes to go and the score tied at one, redshirt sophomore striker C. Nortey scored his eighth goal of the season and fifth game winner in Big East play on a half-bicycle kick to give Marquette the 2-1 victory over Seton Hall.

Coming off its first Big East loss, Marquette (10-4-1) was tied with Georgetown at the top of the league’s table. With Georgetown’s loss to Xavier over the weekend and Marquette’s victory, the Golden Eagles regained the lead in the Big East.

Saturday’s tilt was the final game at Valley Fields for the eight-man senior class. This group is one of the most successful in program history and brought Marquette to new heights with a bright future expected.

Coach Louis Bennett felt the performance mirrored what the senior class has done for the program over the last four years. There were flashes of greatness early on, and by the end of the run, everything was firing on all cylinders.

“We’re one game away from winning the championship and that will be a great achievement from this group in the new Big East,” Bennett said. “It’s been a fantastic class. It’s been a class that’s really helped mold and put together and finish off what people have done before. They’re the ones that finished it off and made sure that we have this great culture and I’m really happy for them.”

With spirits high for the game, especially for redshirt senior forward Andrew Krynski, who made his first start since 2009, the squad sprinted out the gate and struck in the eighth minute.

Redshirt senior forward Adam Lysak made a run down the touchline and crossed a ball to senior defender Paul Dillon alone at the top of the box. After the ball took a couple bounces, Dillon one-timed a rocket that sailed into the upper 90 for the early 1-0 lead.

Dillon’s first goal of the year and first since his freshman season was scored in front of his family, who was visiting from Chesapeake, Va.

“It’s a dream when a ball bounces out to you at the top of the box,” Dillon said. “For me to score in front of (my family), it’s just one of those things you can’t put into words.”

The physicality picked up following the goal as Seton Hall looked to retaliate. The Pirates had eight fouls in the first half, and finished the game with 17 fouls and three cautions.

Dillon’s goal remained the lone one of the match at the half, but Seton Hall was quick to strike in the second.

Less than two minutes into the half, the Pirates’ Max Garcia caused a turnover deep in the Marquette end. Garcia fired a low laser that slid past redshirt junior keeper Charlie Lyon, nicked the post and went into the net.

The goal killed Marquette’s momentum from the first half, but the seasoned squad showed resilience by firing back with numerous chances. In the 80th minute, senior midfielder Bryan Ciesiulka threw the ball into redshirt sophomore defender Axel Sjoberg. Sjoberg quickly flicked the ball to Nortey, who popped the pass into the air and rocketed the half-bicycle into the back of the net.

“We had a throw in and I saw Axel in front of me, so I realized he was going to flick the ball so I stayed behind him,” Nortey said. “I was able to get a touch on it and I turn and shoot.”

Despite Nortey’s brilliance in the attacking third, the defense was the real storyline in the second half. Lyon never had to make a save and the Blue and Gold faithful were singing as the team finished off the Pirates 2-1.

Only one match remains in the regular season before the Big East Tournament begins. Marquette clinched a berth in the tournament, but with a win over DePaul Friday, it can lock up a ticket to semi-finals at PPL Park in Chester, Penn., and win the Big East regular season title.