Forward thinking: three players highlight new front line

Szczepanek, Howell and Parianos make up new men’s soccer attack.

Daniel+Szczepanek+started+six+games+for+the+Golden+Eagles+this+season+%28Photo+by+Doug+Peters%2Fdouglas.peters%40mu.edu%29.

Daniel Szczepanek started six games for the Golden Eagles this season (Photo by Doug Peters/douglas.peters@mu.edu).

When the men’s soccer team hits the pitch again this spring, the forward group will look very different.

All three of Marquette’s starting forwards from this season– C. Nortey, David Selvaggi and Kelmend Islami–will be graduating. Those three led Marquette in scoring. In their place will be three players who have never been full-time college starters. As the roster currently stands, redshirt sophomore Daniel Szczepanek, freshman Toby Howell and junior Nick Parianos are the frontrunners.

Despite never receiving a full-time starting role, Szczepanek has plenty of experience. After playing in every game his redshirt freshman season, he played in 16 games this year, with six starts. He was given a larger role at points due to Selvaggi’s injuries.

“Experience really helps you develop,” Szczepanek said. “I’ve seen a lot of players play that position, a lot of good players from Marquette. To be able to not just see it, but be able to experience it, I think that’s really helped me develop as a player and understand my role.”

Howell, like many of his classmates, got playing time earlier than Szczepanek, and has seen more time on the pitch than the usual Marquette freshman. He started five games, played in 14 and recorded one assist.

“Anytime that we get more bonus experience, that’s going to help us,” Howell said. “Game time is invaluable. Playing more than we (the freshmen) thought we were going to will definitely help the team going forward.”

He was able to learn a lot from the veterans, despite playing a slightly different style.

“It’s not necessarily them talking to me or telling me the ropes,” Howell said. It’s just observing them and how they carry themselves, how they go about playing the game. After the season was over I took a step back and realized what I could learn from them. It was a lot. They are really great role models to watch.”

Parianos missed the entire season after tearing his ACL and meniscus and chipping his cartilage on his femur bone during training in 2014. It’s been a long road, but he’s back running and training at a non-contact level. He’s working on getting his strength back and plans to be 100 percent for the spring games.

“I still have a lot of pain and discomfort, but when I’m training and playing I don’t think about it as much,” Parianos said. “It’s just the recovery after. It’s sore for that evening, a day or two.”

The centerforward doesn’t think it will change the way he plays in a negative way, and expects to get his speed back quickly.

It could take some time for the three to click, since they haven’t played as a unit before. The spring season will be key for the players to familiarize themselves with each other. Howell wasn’t at Marquette the last time Parianos played, and despite Parianos and Szczepanek being roommates, the two need time together on the pitch to click.

“We have chemistry off the field, but on the field it’s a different thing,” Szczepanek said. “The way to build that is just playing with each other. Once Nick gets back fully and the freshmen come in, we get to just play around together. That’s going to help build chemistry. I think chemistry is a huge component to being successful.”