Top 10 of the best men’s soccer games over the past 20 years

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Dennis Holowaty (3) and Kelmend Islami (7) run to join Nick Parianos (13) in celebration after the Golden Eagles defeated Providence in the BIG EAST Tournament final in 2013. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

Over the past 20 years, the Marquette men’s soccer team has had its highs and lows. From winning seasons in the late 1990s and early 2000s, to the struggles through the latter half of the 2000s, to a rebirth just years later, the program has had its journey written through the years in order to obtain the status it currently holds. 

Here are 10 of the best soccer matches in recent history for the Golden Eagles.

September 1, 2000: Marquette at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee W, 5-1

The Golden Eagles marched their way into Engelmann Field for the Milwaukee Cup Game and got off to a hot start with two goals in the 12th and 14th minute. At halftime, Marquette had a 3-0 lead and never looked back, defeating the Panthers by four goals.  

This was the first match of the season for the Golden Eagles and it set the tone for the rest of the year, as Marquette would go on to finish the season with a 9-3 record. It was also the third year in a row where MU took down the Panthers.

October 27, 2007: Marquette at UCONN L, 1-2 OT 

Trailing 1-0 in the final minutes of regulation during the BIG EAST Tournament, sophomore forward Nick Kay found the back of the net for Marquette in the 87th minute against the No. 2 ranked team in the nation. Playing at one of the hardest road venues in the country, the game went into overtime where UCONN would ultimately prevail. 

“For me … that was just a massive game,” former Marquette goalkeeper Matt Pyzdrowski said. “We got totally outplayed but somehow we took them to overtime.”

Pyzdrowski, who went on to have a professional career after his time at Marquette, said he made, perhaps, the most memorable save of his entire career in that match against the Huskies.

September 26, 2008: Marquette at Louisville T, 1-1 2OT

Losing forward Michael Greene and midfielder/forward Anthony Colaizzi put the Golden Eagles down two men, but the squad still hung with No. 20 Louisville to force a 1-1 draw. Marquette played with nine men for the final two minutes of regulation and both overtime periods. 

“It was a pretty memorable game because I think that was the most shots that any team had in a couple years in the BIG EAST,” Pyzdrowski said. “I played particularly well, so that game stands out.”

Finishing the game with six saves, Pyzdrowski also said the game was memorable because the team was able to survive despite playing without two players. Head coach Louis Bennett also recognized the mental strength it took to keep things close.

“We were down two men and our guys were fighting,” Bennett said. “In terms of heart and determination, that was one of the turning points.”

November 3, 2010: Marquette at St. Johns W, 3-1 

Thanks to a brace from junior Callum Mallace, the Golden Eagles upset the defending BIG EAST champion No. 3 St. Johns in the first round of the BIG EAST Tournament. This was the first time the program had beaten St. John’s and was also Marquette’s first postseason win since joining the BIG EAST in 2005. 

“We’d never won there. We’d never won,” Bennett said. “It was one of the more significant games … We held on at times but we really, really showed that we could play, and I was really, really happy about that. That was a good game.”

August 24, 2012: Marquette vs. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee W, 3-2 

In a back and forth game which saw Marquette trailing until the last 10 minutes, the Golden Eagles came out victorious against their Milwaukee neighbors. It was a stunning finish, as the match ended on a game-winning goal as time expired from midfielder Sebastian Jansson. After a game that was scoreless at half, the Golden Eagles scored three times in the last 30 minutes to reclaim the Milwaukee Cup.  

October 26, 2012: Marquette vs. Notre Dame T, 1-1 

After a first half goal from Marquette defender Axel Sjoberg put the Golden Eagles up 1-0 for most of the game, No. 8 Notre Dame equalized in the 88th minute thanks to a strike at the top of the box by forward Ryan Finley. 

An interesting scenario arose in the game when Marquette had a disallowed goal that would have been the difference-maker, allowing MU to win the match. Bennett said that the buzzer had gone off for a substitution, but a referee had said to play on, so the Golden Eagles did. Bennett said Notre Dame defenders went back in position, but the Fighting Irish protested, eventually forcing the goal to get called back.

November 15, 2013: Marquette vs. Butler (BIG EAST Semifinal) W, 1-0 OT

After 98 minutes of play, Adam Lysak’s game-winning goal sent Marquette to the final game of the BIG EAST Tournament at PPL Park in Chester, Pennsylvania. The Golden Eagles outshot the Bulldogs 23 to 17 and MU goalkeeper Charlie Lyon made eight saves in net. 

November 17, 2013: Marquette vs. Providence (BIG EAST Final) W, 3-2 

Just two days after the semifinal victory, the Golden Eagles defeated the Providence Friars and were crowned as BIG EAST champions for the first time in program history. After three unanswered goals by Marquette, the Friars would score goals in the 66th and 87th minute, but did not have enough time to complete the comeback. The win gave them an automatic bid to the NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Championship, where they would later fall to No. 8 Virginia in the third round of the tournament. 

November 24, 2013: Marquette vs. Akron W, 1-0 OT

Marquette secured their first ever NCAA Tournament victory thanks to a last-minute goal from first-year Coco Navarro. With 25 seconds left in overtime, Navarro found the back of the net thanks to a long cross from senior teammate Paul Dillon, which advanced the Golden Eagles to their first-ever round 16. Akron was one of the top teams in the country and had recently won a NCAA championship in 2010. 

In freezing conditions, Bennett said he thought that the referees were going to deem the field unplayable. Sure enough, the Golden Eagles played, and they gave the fans who were bundled up something to celebrate.

“We started off and we held our feet better than them, and it was a back and fourth game,” Bennett said. “They didn’t believe anyone would press them, and we pressed them. So, in that press, it was really important because most people sat back at Akron cause they were so good with the ball, but we kind of fancied ourselves with the ball.”

November 7, 2018: Marquette at Creighton (BIG EAST Semifinal) W, 1-1 & MU advances on PK’s 10-9

The Golden Eagles advanced to the BIG EAST Tournament final after knocking off top-seeded Creighton in penalty kicks in the semifinal. Marquette came back from an early 1-0 deficit in the first half thanks to a Luka Prpa equalizer, while the defense held Creighton’s attack in check the rest of the game.  

“To beat them in Omaha in front of thousands of people, in penalties as well, was just a crazy experience,” former Marquette forward Josh Coan said. “I think that was just a game that really stands out.”

Prpa, a former Marquette midfielder, said his game-tying goal was one that he will not forget.

“At the moment I was happy to score for us and bring us back into the game, but we still weren’t winning so I was in my win-now mode and told all my teammates we have to keep fighting,” Prpa said. “Looking back at it now, that was probably one of the biggest goals I’ve scored in a Marquette uniform.”

This story was written by Nick Galle and Sam Arco. Nick can be reached at nicholas.galle@marquette.edu or on Twitter @thenickgalle. Sam can be reached at sam.arco@marquette.edu or on Twitter @sam_i_am119.