No starting goalie set prior to men’s soccer opening weekend

The Golden Eagles return eight starters from 2014 squad

Photo%3A+Valeria+Cardenas

Photo: Valeria Cardenas

Jack Goods, jack.goods@mu.edu

Head coach Louis Bennett and the men’s soccer team will start the season far from home, looking to set the tone with a slightly different roster.

The Golden Eagles begin their west coast road kick on Friday night against the Oregon State Beavers before traveling 80 miles north to battle the Portland Pilots on Sunday afternoon.

The Golden Eagles will be replacing some key players, as defenseman Axel Sjoberg and keeper Charlie Lyon have gone pro.

Bennett told the Marquette Wire that the coaches could pick a starting goalie at some point today after practice in Corvallis. He said the team was also considering splitting the two games between two different goalies: freshman Luis Barraza and redshirt junior Mac Wheeler, who are travelling with the team and split time in the final scrimmage against Indiana.

“The goalie position, it’s been bright,” Bennett said. “We can’t fill Charlie Lyon’s shoes. We have to use different shoes.”

Wheeler spent the summer with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds of the PDL, posting a 1.77 goals against average in nine games. Barraza comes from the well-established Real Salt Lake Academy.

In Sjoberg’s vacant center back position this season will be redshirt freshman Danny Jarosz, who started in all three pre-season games. The Marquette High grad was the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s 2013 Area Player of the Year.

“I don’t think I’m replacing Axel,” Jarosz said. “I think I’m being the next Danny Jarosz. It’s big shoes to fill but I’ve gained confidence over the last couple games. I think I’m up for the challenge.”

Bennett holds high praise for the new center back.

“I’ve been really impressed with Danny,” Bennett said. “He understudied Axel last year. He probably could have had playing time, but it’s very difficult for any player to knock Axel back.”

Although Jarosz is in Sjoberg’s literal position, replacing his role as a leader on the pitch will be a team effort. Redshirt junior John Pothast and senior Adam Hermsen are the veteran leaders of the crew. Redshirt sophomore Jack Alberts and junior Jake Taylor round out the returning members of the back line.

“Axel is a great player, but he also played in our system,” Pothast said. “We’re definitely going to miss him, but as a team we’re still solid.”

Despite the big-name departing players, a majority of the starters from last year’s team are returning. The front line is untouched minus Coco Navarro, who signed with the Real Monarchs. Last year’s top three scorers, redshirt senior C. Nortey, junior Louis Bennett II and redshirt senior David Selvaggi, will all be back for another year in the blue and gold.

Back with the team this season is redshirt senior forward Kelmund Islami returns after missing last year’s campaign due to injury. He was tied for second on the team with five assists the year prior.

“He brings energy and excitement,” teammate Bennett II said. “We’re really happy to have him back and have another weapon to use going forward.”

Oregon State is also looking to fill a gap, as the Beavers will be without highly touted striker Christian Lucatero, who opted to forgo his college career to sign with the Houston Dynamo. He was expected to be the heir to Khiry Shelton, who was selected in the MLS SuperDraft by New York City FC. They are receiving votes in the NCAA Coaches’ Poll, which was compiled before Lucatero’s decision.

“They’ll probably play the same way, a 4-4-2 with two dynamic strikers,” Bennett said. “It’s not going to change the way we play.”

The Golden Eagles defeated the Beavers at the Panther Invitational last season thanks to a Selvaggi third minute goal. Oregon State made the NCAA tournament, falling in the second round to Creighton. The Beavers did not play any exhibition games this summer, so Marquette will need to look at last year’s film to dissect their opponent.

Portland struggled in the WCC last season, going winless in conference play. Despite their poor record, the Pilots weren’t blown out frequently, losing seven one-goal games. The focal point of their offense is Eddie Sanchez, who tied for the team lead in scoring in his sophomore season despite netting 14 less points than his freshman year.

Marquette and Oregon State take to the pitch at 7 p.m. on Friday, which will air live on the Pac-12 Network. Sunday’s game against Portland will be at 3 p.m., serving as one last tune-up before next week’s Milwaukee Cup match.