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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Men’s Soccer begin quest for college cup


The Big East champion men’s soccer team endured a seesaw 2013 campaign. Now, it faces a win or go home as the NCAA tournament begins.

Monday, the squad earned the ninth seed in the NCAA tournament, giving them a first round bye; however, they happen to be placed in a “group of death.”

Marquette will play the winner of Thursday night’s match between Indiana and Akron, the defending national champion and the 2010 national champion, respectively. Both teams present major barriers on the road to the College Cup, but coach Louis Bennett sees it as simply the next match on the schedule.

“There is no second game if you don’t take care of the first game,” Bennett said, “and if you want to be one of the best, you have to play the best and that’s what we’re looking for.”

Indiana (8-11-2) is a familiar opponent for the Golden Eagles, since the two sides fought to a 3-3 draw in the preseason. The defending national champions, who were the preseason favorite to repeat, did not have a successful regular season and lost to some low-quality teams often.

Despite the struggles, the Hoosiers still managed to qualify for the Big Ten tournament and defeated Michigan State in the title game to earn an automatic qualifier. Their knack for postseason success last year as the underdog with a 16-seed earned them the program’s eighth national championship. Now unranked, the experienced squad will have an edge if they pull past Akron.

“Indiana, we actually played them this preseason,” senior defender Eric Pothast said. “We know a lot of guys on their team. They’re defending national champions, so there’s a lot of stories wrapped up in that one.”

The Zips (16-3-1), on the other hand, will present an entirely different challenge for Marquette. Their free-flowing style is like nothing the squad faced this season. It is similar to the Golden Eagles’ style, but it could be challenging to post the same style against each other.

Scoring, though, will surely be low. Akron has one of the best goals against averages in the nation this season (.61 GAA), but like Marquette, they struggle to score. This match up will surely be a bitter defensive battle, where both teams will have to force a defensive error in order to score.

Akron, with their legacy in the past couple of years, has been doing really well in college soccer and the style that they play,” Pothast said. “They play a really nice free-flowing soccer style and I think it matches up pretty nicely with us.”

An advantage Marquette will have over both squads is rest. With seven days separating the Big East final from Sunday’s tilt, it will surely be fit and relaxed for the game.

Still, the team must err on the safe side as it learned last year when they were upset in the second round by Northwestern after an 11-day break period following the conference tournament. It must be fit and ready to roll right away to avoid falling behind early.

“We got a week to prepare,” redshirt sophomore defender Axel Sjoberg said. “We’re going to get our bodies and minds going for that game and do everything in our power to go through to the next round.”

Last season could be a wake up call to the raised talent the NCAA tournament holds. The team has a formula to make a run in the tournament, but, as it focused on in the regular season, it must take each game one at a time. This philosophy helped the team to conference regular season and tournament titles, now it must continue its success in the College Cup.

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