Men’s soccer bounced by UVA

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Despite a red card in the first minute of the game that forced Virginia to play with 10 men the Marquette men’s soccer team fell 3-1 to the Cavaliers and were eliminated from the NCAA Tournament.

Marquette had just won its first NCAA Tournament game ever a week prior and less than a minute into the match, redshirt sophomore forward C. Nortey drew a foul that resulted in a red card for Virginia’s Matt Brown. However, with Virginia sitting back the remainder of the game, it was difficult for Marquette to muster chances.

“Things were looking up as Virginia got a man sent off right away,” senior defender Eric Pothast said. “That was a boost for us right away, but I think Virginia battled, and I think they defended against us really well and then took their chances with their good attacking players.”

A flurry of chances for the Golden Eagles, including one where four saves were needed in a span of about five seconds, had Marquette in control of the match. But the Cavaliers’ defense would have none of it and they operated a lethal counter attack. In the 24th minute, the Cavaliers drew a handball on senior defender Paul Dillon that set up a dangerous free kick from 25 yards away.

Virginia’s Scott Thomsen took the free kick and struck it over the wall, past a diving redshirt junior goalkeeper Charlie Lyon and into the net for the 1-0 lead.

The goal depleted the traveling side’s momentum, and its form suffered for it. Passes were off target, and the defense looked lost during counter attacks heading into the locker room.

Down by one at the half, Marquette needed to push the tempo in the second, but instead, the deficit grew. In the 47th minute, a missed assignment in the box left Virginia’s Darius Madison open to receive a cross that he volleyed in for the two-goal lead.

With the season on the line, the team went into desperation-mode while Virginia played conservatively and brought most of its players back. Even the center backs pushed up, which redshirt sophomore defender Axel Sjoberg took advantage of and sent a  ball to Nortey, who slid one under the sprawling keeper to pull within one.

But less the a minute later, trouble struck again as Dillon was beaten in the defensive third and fouled Marcus Salandy-Defour in the box giving Virginia a penalty kick. Lyon dove, but the shot from Todd Wharton was out of reach and the lead was back to two.

With more then 30 minutes left, Marquette fought to get back in the match, but the effort fell short and the historic season came to an end.

“It was a bit of an uphill battle in a sense because we couldn’t get them out of their shell. It was what they call in boxing, ‘peek-a-boo boxing,’” coach Louis Bennett said. “We’re out, and that’s some hard medicine to take, but we will.”

Though the season comes to an end, heads are held high for the program’s continuing progression toward becoming one of the nation’s top squads.

It was a long road to make this program what it is, and this season was the culmination of hard work from the current squad and the players who set the table for this team.

“Since I got here, the brand of soccer is just so much better,” senior midfielder Bryan Ciesiulka said. “We owe a lot of that to our coaches and all the younger guys and all the older guys who came before us just buying into what coach had preached that was what made us grow.”

There is a long break until the Blue and Gold hit the pitch again next season, but expectations will be high as this program continues to become a staple in college soccer.