Men’s soccer takes on No. 1 Notre Dame in season opener
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Men’s soccer takes on No. 1 Notre Dame in season opener

Photo by Valeria Cardenas/

Photo by Valeria Cardenas/

Photo by Valeria Cardenas/

Photo by Valeria Cardenas/

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Sometimes it is nice to ease into the year. That way, by the time you are getting into the rhythm of the semester, you are as sharp as possible. Do not tell that to the men’s soccer team, who open their season tomorrow against No. 1 and reigning national champion Notre Dame.

The match will be the first of two for Marquette at the annual Adidas/IU Credit Union Classic, hosted by Indiana. Marquette will also play the host Hoosiers Sunday. This is the first time the Golden Eagles have taken part in the event. The fourth and final participant in the tournament is fellow Big East member Georgetown.

“This will be a great yardstick for exactly where we are,” said Marquette head coach Louis Bennett. “We’ve always said that we wanted to play the best teams so we could be in and among the best teams.”

Marquette is ranked 12th in the nation in the coaches poll. Marquette and 9th ranked Georgetown were picked as co-favorites to win the Big East this year.

The Golden Eagles are coming off a Big East title and a two-game NCAA Tournament run. They defeated Akron in the second round but fell in the next round to Virginia.

Highlighting this year’s Marquette squad is redshirt junior C. Nortey. He was one of 32 players named to this year’s Hermann Trophy Watch List, the award given to the top men’s and women’s soccer player in the country. He led the Golden Eagles in goals and points last season.

Nortey is one of three Marquette players featured on the pre-season All-Big East team. He’s joined redshirt junior Axel Sjoberg and sophomore midfielder Louis Bennett II.

Sjoberg had a decorated 2013 campaign. The 6-foot-7 defenseman was named to the All-Big East first team, won the Big East Soccer Championship’s Most Outstanding Defender award and was named the Golden Eagles team MVP. Top Drawer Soccer ranked him as the seventh best defender in the nation in its 2014 rankings.

Bennett II started off his Marquette career on the right foot. One of the top freshman in the conference, Bennett II was named to the Big East all-rookie team and was an All-Big East team honorable mention. His 10 points slotted him second on the team last season, and he will likely see his totals increase this year.

Manning the pipes for a third season is redshirt senior Charlie Lyon, fresh off his All-Big East selection and being named the Big East co-goaltender of the year. He will once again be the backbone of an impressive Golden Eagle defense.

The opener is a battle of two teams picked to win their respective conferences, as the top-ranked Irish are the favorites to finish atop the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Notre Dame won the school’s first ever national championship last season with a 2-1 victory against Maryland. They have also won the Adidas/IU Credit Union Classic the past two years.

Most of the championship team is returning, except last year’s leading scorer Harry Shipp, who is playing with the Chicago Fire in MLS this season. The Fighting Irish hope that last year’s second leading scorer, Patrick Hodan, will up his contributions to make up for the loss of Shipp. Hodan scored 11 goals and had five assists last year.

Also returning are three-fourths of the defenders and senior goaltender Patrick Wall, who last year played in every game for Notre Dame.

The Irish have their sights set on winning consecutive national championships, which last happened when Indiana won in 2003 and 2004.

Following the tournament the Golden Eagles will head back to Valley Fields to host the Panther Invitational. They play two games next weekend, starting with their home opener Sept. 5 against Gonzaga. Marquette will be back in action again Sept. 7, when they host Oregon State.

Marquette hosts two of its most notable non-conference foes this season, No. 21 Wisconsin-Madison and Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The Golden Eagles look for revenge this year, as they lost both games by one goal margins last season.

Their biggest test in conference play comes Oct. 4, when they visit Washington, D.C. to face Georgetown. The two teams sit atop the conference and will be duking it out for the No. 1 seed in the Big East tournament.

Overall, the goal is the same as it was last season. The road to Chester, Penn. and another Big East title starts Friday in Bloomington, Ind.

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