Marquette’s magical run comes to an end in Sweet 16

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Manuel Cukaj (5) warms up prior to Thursday’s match against Indiana (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

The Marquette men’s soccer season came to an end in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament after falling to the No. 3 Indiana Hoosiers 2-1 Thursday night in Cary, North Carolina.  

The Golden Eagles started the game off well, creating the first few chances of the contest as they dominated Hoosiers for most of the first half. 

Marquette’s great first half was fully rewarded in the 44th minute when redshirt sophomore forward AJ Franklin blasted a rocket off his left foot from outside of the box into the upper 90 of the net past Indiana’s goalkeeper Roman Celentano 

Franklin’s first collegiate goal for Marquette gave the Golden Eagles a 1-0 lead over Indiana at halftime, giving MU aspirations of making its first Elite 8 appearance in program history.  

The eight-time national champions would respond in the second half however, playing like the No. 3 team in the country they’re supposed to be.  

After coming up big defensively for the first 70 minutes of the game and for the entirety of the season, Marquette’s defense began to fold, and Indiana began to take advantage.  

In the 71st minute, Indiana finally broke through as sophomore and Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year Victor Bezerra played a nice through ball to sophomore counterpart Herbert Endeley who shot one past Marquette goalkeeper Chandler Hallwood.  

Hallwood, who had seven saves in Marquette’s second round victory against Loyola Marymount (CA), was not as destined to make as many saves in this one, as he only recorded two on the night. 

Indiana’s momentum would continue late in the game, as just nine minutes later it took the lead in the 80th minute after a scuffle in the box found Maouloune Goumballe with the ball near the far post to give the Hoosiers a 2-1 lead with less than 10 minutes to play. 

Despite conceding two quick goals, Marquette would not give up, which represented its season as a whole 

In the 84th minute, redshirt junior defender Manuel Cukaj had a great chance to level things with a header in the box, but Marquette’s final chance was shot right at Celentano, and the Hoosiers held off the Golden Eagles 2-1 and advanced to the Elite 8.  

MU is now 2-4-1 all-time in NCAA Tournament games. 

Marquette’s 2021 season now comes to an end with an 8-3-2 (5-1-1 BIG EAST) record. Although being doubted all season long, including being picked to finish fourth in the BIG EAST Midwest Division, the team finished first and made its fourth NCAA Tournament in program history in the process. 

This story was written by Sam Arco. He can be reached at sam.arco@marquette.edu or on Twitter @sam_i_am119.