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Change in back line sparks Marquette’s first win of 2017

Daniel+Szczepanek+scored+two+goals+in+Marquette%27s+4-2+win+over+Seton+Hall+Saturday.
Daniel Szczepanek scored two goals in Marquette's 4-2 win over Seton Hall Saturday.

Daniel Szczepanek scored two goals in Marquette's 4-2 win over Seton Hall Saturday.

Photo by Brian Georgeson

Photo by Brian Georgeson

Daniel Szczepanek scored two goals in Marquette's 4-2 win over Seton Hall Saturday.

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Marquette’s offense awoke from its season-long scoring slumber to earn its first victory of the season, defeating Seton Hall, 4-2.

In an effort to switch things up after allowing five goals in the previous two games, Bennett went with a back line that had never played before together. Grant Owens started at right back alongside Brendan Skinner, Patrick Seagrist, Jack Alberts. In addition,  Diego Nunez was at the forward position. Despite an unusual starting eleven, head coach Louis Bennett believed that the shake-up helped defend one of the conference’s best forwards in Andres Arcila.

“The back line had never played before together in their collegiate careers, and I thought they did really well,” Bennett said. “I have to give credit to Ruben Sanchez, who had a really good opportunity to show himself and defend against one of the best attackers in the league and he did that, so Ruben today was an unsung hero.”

Marquette’s offense came alive early, as the Golden Eagles (1-5-1) controlled possession right from the opening whistle. In the 14th minute, Connor Alba floated in a tempting ball to Grant Owens, who calmly ran up and out-jumped the defender. He then headed it past Pirates goalkeeper Elliot Munford to make it 1-0.

Winger Brody Kraussel’s creative ability to get past a defender resulted in a shot saved by Munford; however, redshirt senior forward Daniel Szczepanek was there to put the rebound home. Meanwhile, the Pirates were unable to create chances in the first half, as Marquette’s defense held their own, just allowing four shots.

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Marquette got a third goal just on the stroke of the half-hour mark, as Diego Nunez fired a screamer shot from the top of the box that found its way into the top right corner of the box.

In the second half, Seton Hall crept back into the game via Spencer Burkhardt, who had three shots, and their talisman, Andres Arcila. The Pirates finally got on the scoreboard in the 53rd minute on a header by Nick Najera. The Marquette defense stood firm against a barrage of attacks after that goal despite the Pirates’ 14 second half shots.

Offensively, Szczepanek ensured the victory after winning a 50-50 ball from a cleared corner kick. He beat his man and coolly placed it past Munford for his second goal. The Pirates would answer right back, but it would not be enough as the match ended 4-2.

“This week in practice we focused on taking chances like we did tonight,” Szczepanek said. “We were really focused and made sure that what we did in practice paid off and we translated it into the game.”

Bennett and the Golden Eagles will look to use its first win of 2017 as a springboard heading into Tuesday’s renewal of the Milwaukee Cup. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s last five matches have been decided by one goal or less.

“This will be both a confidence booster for the younger guys and a reaffirmation for the older guys that this is how we play,” Bennett said. “I’m proud of our effort today and I think it’s good going forward.”

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