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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Improved defense leads to success for men’s soccer

Jonas Moen (20) and Tristan Ronnestad-Stevens (5) have helped Marquette become the No. 3 Big East team in average goals against. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

For Marquette men’s soccer, there is a distinct difference between this season and last season: the number of goals allowed.

Through nine matches last season, the Marquette men’s soccer team had given up 16 goals. Through the first nine matches this season, that number has been cut to seven.

Junior defender Jonas Moen said he feels like his team’s defense is more stable than it has been in the past, which has led to the decrease in goals allowed.

“The word I would use for that is ‘solid,’” Moen said. “I’ve felt comfortable defending, comfortable in our own box, comfortable that we’re gonna keep clean sheets and allow less goals for the opponents.”

While Moen explained that he feels comfortable defending, he also said that the Golden Eagles’ back line is deeper than what the naked eye might see.

“There’s a lot of good defenders on our team right now with good competition, so you’re always hungry to keep your spot on the team and really try to play well and try to keep the ball out of the back of the net,” Moen said.

Along with Moen, senior defender Jai Hsieh-Bailey and sophomore midfielder/defender Tristan Rønnestad-Stevens have also played big roles on the back line this season.

With all three of these athletes returning from last year’s squad, head coach Louis Bennett said that he is pleased by the improvement. 

“Some of the players that were involved in giving a lot of goals away a game, and having two goals against average, have now managed to keep it around just under one a game, which obviously gives us a chance to win,” Bennett said.

Blocking out the noise

Bennett’s squad started the season 6-0, outscoring their opponents 19-4. These efforts did not go unnoticed by the United Soccer Coaches, as they ranked the Golden Eagles at No. 13 in the nation, marking their first time in the top 25 since 2021.

Despite the national attention, Bennett said he doesn’t see the rankings as anything but outside noise.

“Because of the way we play, we are always going to be the hunter, we’re always going to be the people attacking,” Bennett said. “We’ll have to be mature about not looking at the outside and thinking that’s going to help us win games. The only thing that wins games is what goes on inside of our team and how we present ourselves.”

One of the highlights of the season so far for the Golden Eagles’ back line came during a threegame stretch in which they captured three clean sheets in a row.

“During that time, we felt like we were super organized, and it just raised our confidence to be able to know that we could defend against top level teams and keep a clean sheet against top level teams,” Bailey said. “Obviously, we haven’t done that in a few games now, but we know that we can do it. It really just gives us the confidence that we’re able to compete and get clean sheets and now we’re due for another one, especially with Big East play coming up.”

Bouncing back

Since starting 6-0-0, the Golden Eagles have gone 1-1-1, dropping a game at Creighton and tying another against the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

They have since dropped from No. 13 to No. 23 in the latest United Soccer Coaches poll.

However, Marquette cruised to its first road win of the season Saturday night, taking down Butler 2-0. This also marks the Golden Eagles’ first road win since 2021.

Bailey said that he believes the start of the match is key for Marquette.

“We have to start off hot, just like we do at home,” Bailey said. “We just have to bring that same energy on these away trips. It’s just about reminding ourselves who we are.”

As Marquette looks ahead to the rest of Big East play, Bennett said the entire season has been leading up to the Golden Eagles’ conference slate.

“Everything we have done up to now has been to prepare ourselves and to get us in a good position to be able to play well in the conference,” Bennett said.

Marquette returns home from its four-game road trip to Valley Fields Friday to take on St. John’s (4-3-1) at 7:05 p.m. CST.

This story was written by Matthew Baltz. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter/X @MatthewBaltzMU.

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About the Contributors
Matthew Baltz
Matthew Baltz, Sports Reporter
Matthew Baltz is a sophomore from Colona, Illinois majoring in journalism and minoring digital media. He is a sports reporter for the 2023-24 school year. In high school, he played basketball, baseball and ran cross country. In his free time, Matt enjoys hanging out with his friends and going to MLB games. He is most excited to write game recaps and tribune stories.
Keifer Russell
Keifer Russell, Staff Photographer
Keifer Russell is a junior from Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin studying digital media and public relations and is a Staff Photographer of the Marquette Wire for the 2023-2024 school year. Outside of the Wire he enjoys rock climbing, photography (figures), as well as finding and listening to new music. He is very excited to further refine his photographic content over the next year

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