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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Marquette’s offense thrives despite loss of leading scorer

Photo by Forster Goodrich
Graduate student forward Brooklyn Merl (19) has five goals and two assists for Marquette.

Despite losing its leading scorer from last season, former forward Lukas Sunesson, Marquette is flying high so far this fall, soaring from outside the top 25 to the No. 13 team in the country in the latest coaches’ poll.

The Golden Eagles have won six out of the last seven games and are off to their best start since 2012, a season in which they were crowned Big East champions. 

Through those seven games, Marquette is averaging just under three goals a game and giving up under one goal per game. Marquette also leads the Big East with 20 goals on the season. Nationally, the Golden Eagles are No. 2 in the country in total goals (20) and goal differential (+14).

Sunesson, who joined the Golden Eagles in 2018 and was a semifinalist for the Hermann Trophy (college soccer’s most outstanding player) in the spring 2021 season, played his last year in 2022. He finished his career with 78 goals in 84 games played. 

Even though he left and took his scoring ability with him, Marquette has been able to replicate that offensive production in the form of graduate student forward Brooklyn Merl.

Merl is tied for most goals scored among all Big East forwards with five and he is tied for No. 17 in the country in total goals. He has also tallied two assists on the season as well. 

Despite Merl’s play this season, he emphasized the team’s mindset around offensive production. 

“Most of our starting forwards were already here last season,” Merl said. “We just developed, we also have some new players. We just play football. It’s hard to explain as an offensive player how we do it, we play to score. It’s important to not give up, just keep going.”

Three other Golden Eagles — senior forwards Noah Madrigal and Beto Soto and senior midfielder Edrey Caceres — have at least two goals and two assists as well.

Sophomore goalkeeper Ludvig Malberg said that the team’s chemistry is a key factor in their recent offensive success.

“As a team, we’ve come together and gotten that final edge that we lacked last year,” Malberg said. 

Marquette showed that edge when it took down then-No. 21 Wisconsin despite playing the last 37 minutes of the game shorthanded due to a red card.

“We’ve had a lot of options, scoring goals is what we love to do,” head coach Louis Bennett said after the match. “We’re playing good entertaining soccer, but for me, that was classy being able to keep it in there. With only ten men out of our net, I thought that was probably the highlight.” 

On the defensive side, Malberg has enjoyed a six-game stretch where he is averaging less than a goal given up per game, which he said comes from the team, not just him.

“First of all, it’s a team thing- we have eleven players on the pitch that all defend, we’ll fight for each other,” Malberg said. “As a goalkeeper, I take pride in not allowing goals, I just do my best in practice and every game I play to keep the ball out of the net. I try to organize and communicate with all the other players so that we’re in the right positions.”

As Marquette begins to face its Big East foes, Merl said that the team must continue to put its best foot forward no matter what.

“We’re trying to win every single game, it doesn’t matter who is on the other side, we want to give our best, our 100%, regardless of who we are playing and we have the same respect for everybody we play,” Merl said. 

The Golden Eagles travel to crosstown rival University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (2-3) Tuesday for the Milwaukee Cup after losing 2-1 at Creighton last Friday.

This story was written by Mikey Severson. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter/X @MikeySeversonMU.

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About the Contributors
Mikey Severson, Sports Reporter
Mikey Severson is a first year from Saint Charles, Illinois studying journalism and minoring in sports management. He is a Sports Reporter for the Marquette Wire for the 2023-24 school year. At St. Charles East High School, he played football, tennis and managed the boys' basketball team. Outside of the Wire, he enjoys professional football, playing tennis, trying new foods and meeting new people. He is excited to cover Marquette athletics, go to games and interview players & coaches post-game.
Forster Goodrich, Staff Photographer
Forster Goodrich is a sophomore from Lyme, New Hampshire studying digital media. Forster works on the photography desk as a Staff Photographer. Outside of the Wire, he is on the club waterski team, and enjoys everything outdoors. He is looking forward to the upcoming basketball season and getting to photograph games at Fiserv Forum.

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