Marquette Wire

Men’s soccer offense shows improvement in 2018

Photo by Jordan Johnson

Photo by Jordan Johnson

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Calling last season’s performance disappointing for the Golden Eagles would be an understatement.

Men’s soccer finished sixth out of 10 teams in the BIG EAST and had a 3-11-2 record last year. Marquette’s offense often found itself struggling to consistently generate quality scoring chances and put the ball past the goalkeeper, being shut out six times in 2017.

Ten months later the Golden Eagles find themselves looking like a completely different team.

Three weeks into this season, Marquette has already earned votes in the coaches’ poll and boasts an average of 3.5 goals per game, which sits at the top of the BIG EAST.

“We are a lot more capable of running behind defenders and getting people turning, and I think that we are not relying on one or two ways of scoring,” head coach Louis Bennett said. “We are a little bit more multi-dimensional, and goals are coming from a lot of different people.”

One of the major differences between this year’s offense compared to last year’s comes from the talent Marquette has on the current roster.

Perhaps one of the most impactful changes for the Golden Eagles has been bringing in super-Swede freshman Lukas Sunesson and according to Bennett, he has helped the offense in scoring. Marquette’s deep bench then grants them the ability to use certain players in key situations and allows them to not over-play their stars throughout the season.

“We’ve also got a super-sub with Diego Nunez when he comes onto the field,” Bennett said. “I think all three forwards and Luka (Prpa) have opportunities to score. Being able to get behind (the defense), get heads turned and having the ability to get into good positions to score has been what has fueled our success so far.”

The Golden Eagles’ ability to create high-quality scoring chances has come from not only skill, but the amount of maturity each player has gained from playing collegiate soccer. Additionally, the team has developed a great amount of chemistry, and it has presented itself on the field with all seven of their goals coming from four different players.

“We’ve got a couple of more experienced guys than last year,” junior forward Luka Prpa said. “Even the young guys like Lucas (Sunesson), for example, who has played at a high level overseas, still has that experience as well,”

Prpa said that the team has even clicked off the field, and that chemistry has only helped them be more successful on the field. According to Prpa, everyone thinks alike and they all want to score goals and help each other out, rather than being a ball-hog.

Undoubtedly, it is easy to notice the offensive explosion the team has enjoyed so far, but the amount of work put in on the field is just as intensive as the work put in off the field.

“We watch all of our games on film,” Prpa said. “We try to look at every team we are going to come up against. We try to focus a lot on how we are going to play, and not necessarily worry about the other teams too much.”

While the film-watching gives Marquette a chance to study opponents’ defenses, but more importantly, helps fix offensive woes.

“You always have to be aware of and respect the other team,” Prpa said. “But I think a lot of it comes from focusing on how we want to play and what we want to do.”

Already matching its win total at home from last season in just the first two games, Marquette looks to sustain their early winning success for the rest of the season at Valley Fields.

“It’s amazing, that home-field advantage is always huge,” Prpa said. “When you get to play in front of your friends and family, you just want to put on a show and play as best as you can for them.” 

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