Scrimmages prepare men’s soccer team for spring

Junior+forward+Lukas+Sunesson+races+to+the+ball+in+a+match+last+season+against+Green+Bay.+

Photo by Katerina Pourliakas

Junior forward Lukas Sunesson races to the ball in a match last season against Green Bay.

The postponement of the 2020 fall sports season has not stopped the Marquette men’s soccer team from competing in game-like environments.

To get ready for their season, which was moved to the spring, the team has been competing in team scrimmages. The squad has tried to make the experience as much like a real game as possible.

Due to the long time without being able to play soccer due to COVID-19, head coach Louis Bennett said that he wanted his team to steadily get back into playing shape.

“There was an inequality in the player’s fitness and how much they played over the break,” Bennett said. “We wanted the first week of having the full group together (to) be in some sort of real, competitive situation.”

The team had some training before, but in smaller groups. Now, the whole team can be together for these scrimmages. The scrimmages are also streamed online by Marquette Athletics, and the team gets into full uniform.

On Wednesday, the white team beat the navy team 4-0, with goals from first-year forwards Alan Kim and Noah Madrigal, plus two goals from junior Cristian Gennaro. 

“We want to see how far along we are, who understands and who doesn’t,” Bennett said. “We want to see what level of fitness they’re at, but also for the new guys, have them see what it’s like to play soccer at Marquette.”

For the players, it is an opportunity to finally compete again after what Bennett said was the longest break from soccer ever for almost all of his players.

“It’s great that we have the possibility to get out on the grass again,” junior forward Lukas Sunesson said. “We’ve all just missed it so much, and we all just want to get that competitiveness out on the field.”

That break is also a reason why the progress they are making is going to be slow and steady. The team has not yet played a full 90-minute game, as the first scrimmage they held was three 10-minute periods, and they are building up from there.

In terms of what they are seeing on the field, there is still a long way to go until the new season begins, but Sunesson has been encouraged by what he has seen.

“Our team chemistry has always been good, and it still is really good,” Sunesson said. “Physically, we’re taking things a little slower because of COVID-19 but we’re in a really good spot right now.”

Bennett echoed those sentiments and said that this past week was the best week he had seen from his team to date this semester.

“Despite unfamiliar circumstances, we’re beginning to recognize ourselves,” Bennett said. “Our core group is getting stronger, and it hasn’t felt like we’ve been restricted at all, even though we have been.”

Now, Bennett is excited to see how his team develops from here with the addition of competitive play in these scrimmages, but he is also ready for his team to get back to playing games.

“Everyone has shown at least a little glimpse of who they can be on the pitch,” Bennett said. “If this had been our first week of our fall season, I would’ve been like, ‘let’s go, let’s do it.’”

This story was written by Matt Yeazel. He can be reached at matthew.yeazel@marquette.edu or on Twitter @MJYeazel.