Lukas Sunesson leading men’s soccer team

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Junior forward Lukas Sunesson (9) strides past two DePaul defenders March 6 (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

Coming into a year of uncertainty wondering when, or if, his team would play, junior forward Lukas Sunesson is taking advantage of the opportunity to be on the pitch after he feared it would not happen.

“It feels surreal that we’re actually going to have a season,” Sunesson said before the team’s first game against Loyola-Chicago Feb. 3. “We’re all so stoked and I’m just thankful.”

Normally the team spends the summer off, looking forward to the fall season right at the start of school. This season, their normal fall season was postponed to spring, and they did not know what that adapted spring season would look like for a long time.

Back in March 2020 when Marquette and many other schools went online due to COVID-19, the striker went to his hometown of Taby, Sweden.

Fortunately for him, Sweden did not go into a general lockdown, and physical distancing was only required in certain areas. Sunesson was able to play with an amateur team in his home country to train before coming back to Milwaukee.

“You prepare all year for a college season that already isn’t very long, so when that got taken away I was really sad,” Sunesson said. “It was just unfortunate for all of us.”

Despite the disappointment of the news that the fall season was postponed, Sunesson and his team quickly tried to take a positive approach.

“I don’t think our season or our team will be much different, we’ll be just as prepared,” Sunesson said. “We’re all motivated to come back stronger than any other team.”

The first step in the process of coming back stronger began with training this fall and scrimmaging against each other. These games, for many on the team, were the first game action they’d had in months.

“It was great to have the ability to get on the grass again and compete,” Sunesson said. “It meant a lot to everyone, and while we’re taking things slower on the physical end, our team chemistry is and always has been great.”

Sunesson scored multiple goals in the four scrimmages the team had in the fall and he has continued that streak as the Golden Eagles have gone into their spring season.

In six games this season, the junior has scored a team-high four goals including a game-winner in overtime against Northern Illinois Feb. 7.

“It was a great pass and a great cross from Alan Salmeron,” Sunesson said. “Wasn’t much for me to do, just had to make my run like we practiced and just tap it in.”

Coming into this season, Sunesson said he set a goal for himself to lead his squad in goals and to shoot for a double-digit total of goals.

Sunesson scored five goals on 25 shots in 19 games his first year, then just three goals on 33 shots in 18 games in the 2019 season. In six games this season, he has surpassed his total from the previous season, and is on pace to set a career-high.

He is attempting to live up to his goal for this season, as he and his teammate first-year forward Beto Soto are currently tied for fifth in the BIG EAST in shots taken, with 14 each.

The team has struggled offensively at times this season though, with only Sunesson, Soto and junior forward Zyan Andrade combining to score a total of seven goals.

Despite the team’s offensive struggles, Sunesson is currently tied for third in the BIG EAST in total goals scored. This past week, he was named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll after scoring two goals in the team’s 3-1 win at DePaul.   

With just a few games remaining in the shortened spring season, Sunesson hopes to lead his 4-1-1 Golden Eagles to more success as they currently sit at seventh in the conference.

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