In 2009 the Marquette women’s volleyball team reversed its record and posted an 18-12 season after an 11-18 record in 2008. It followed up this reversal with a third place Big East finish in 2010.
Like volleyball two years ago, 2011 could be the catalyst of the Marquette men’s soccer program’s turnaround.
The 2010 campaign was a historic year for the Golden Eagles.
Marquette posted the best record in coach Louis Bennett’s five years as a Golden Eagle (7-8-4), earned a draw on Oct. 1 against then-No. 3 Connecticut 1-1 and made it to the Big East Championship tournament for the second straight year, defeating St. John’s 3-1 to advance to the semifinals for the first time.
Four players graduated from the 2010 roster and of those four only one, defenseman Matt Stummer, started all 19 games. Defenseman Anthony Colaizzi started 11 of the final 13 games.
“It’s definitely changed without them back there, but I think we have players who can step in,” senior defenseman Michael Alfano said.
Marquette went 8-1-1 in the spring, scoring 38 goals in 10 games, more than the 24 goals it scored in 19 matches in 2010. With a strong spring performance and nine of 11 starters back in 2011, senior midfielder Calum Mallace likes this year’s squad.
“Confidence is really high throughout the team right now,” Mallace said. “We believe, which is something we didn’t have before. Before it was just like ‘oh, let’s see what we can do this year.’ I think we can really do some damage.”
If Marquette does damage, much credit will be due to Mallace – who led the team in points (18), goals (6) and assists (6). He was named to the All-Big East Second Team last season.
“Undoubtedly he is one of the best players in the country. It’s proven,” Bennett said of Mallace. “We already know that his career, up to this date, has got him noticed at all levels around the country. I think that knowing Calum, he’s going to want to do more.”
One additional expectation for Mallace in 2011 will be to expand his leadership role.
“Some days he’ll put the captain’s armband on and some days he won’t,” Bennett said. “Most days the armband will be with (sophomore defenseman) Eric Pothast and (junior midfielder) Ryan Robb. (Calum’s) going to lead by example. He’s going to lead by his day-in-and-day-out consistency. That’s where he’s got to improve.”
Pothast will be the youngest player Bennett has ever coached to wear the captain’s armband since Steve Bode, an assistant coach for Marquette, wore the band as a sophomore on Bennett’s 2005 Wisconsin-Milwaukee team.
“Eric Pothast says very little but does a lot so he’s a perfect captain,” Bennett said. “He’s a perfect on-the field-leader. If he says something to a referee it’ll be appropriate and at the right time.”
Marquette isn’t necessarily the biggest or the deepest team in the Big East, Bennett said, but its starting lineup is filled with players that can play their positions “very well.”