Marquette Wire

Men’s soccer team welcomes alumni for homecoming game

Nathan+Sabich+%28left%29+goes+for+the+ball+in+the+men%27s+soccer+alumni+game.+Sabich+played+at+Marquette+from+2003+to+2006.
Nathan Sabich (left) goes for the ball in the men's soccer alumni game. Sabich played at Marquette from 2003 to 2006.

Nathan Sabich (left) goes for the ball in the men's soccer alumni game. Sabich played at Marquette from 2003 to 2006.

Photo by Jordan Johnson

Photo by Jordan Johnson

Nathan Sabich (left) goes for the ball in the men's soccer alumni game. Sabich played at Marquette from 2003 to 2006.

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In the men’s soccer team’s first game of the spring season, they faced a familiar foe: alumni of the program.

Head coach Louis Bennett has organized the alumni game since his first year at Marquette in 2006. The game might not count for anything in the scorebooks, but Bennett wants the younger players to have a firsthand example of what he wants out of the program.

“(The alumni) know what we’re trying to do,” Bennett said. “They might not be quite as fit, or they might not be as game-ready to play at this speed, but they’re smarter, more knowledgable and I think it tests us.”

The alumni game serves many purposes for the soccer program. It provides a reason for former players to come back to campus and gives the current team experience with new lineups against former college players. Over the next few weeks, men’s soccer will play seven exhibition games – six against collegiate teams and one against a professional indoor soccer team. After that, Marquette has a long summer layoff.

Freshman forward Lukas Sunesson scored a hat trick against the alumni team. Sophomore midfielder Luka Prpa, who scored two goals in the game, also felt the significance of having the former players as competition.

“They’re more experienced so they know all the little tricks of the game, like how to get you off your game,” Prpa said. “Putting yourself up against them is always a good test.”

The alumni team was comprised of players from throughout Bennett’s tenure in Milwaukee that had varying skill levels. Some, like Louis Bennett II of the United Soccer League-affiliated Swope Park Rangers, are professional players. Others, like 2006 alum Nathan Sabich, have long since stopped playing soccer.

All of them have something the current soccer players don’t: perspective.

“It teaches our guys some things that we may not be able to teach them when they are all the same age,” Bennett said. “These (alumni) have gone on and seen a couple things.”

From the start, it was a light-hearted atmosphere inside the Valley Fields Dome. Bennett was joking with the alumni team during the game, reminding them to only keep 11 men on the field and chiding their counting skills during a botched substitution.

Joking aside, the alumni team’s passion made an impression on the current crop of players. Prpa said there are a lot of lessons the team could take from those that came before them.

“Seeing how they have done, I think they’ve been so committed, so dedicated and still come back and play,” Prpa said. “Knowing what the program means to everybody, committing 100 percent and giving everything, I think we’re getting there.”

The men’s soccer team will continue their spring season with a matchup against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville Saturday.

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