Coming into the spring season, coach Louis Bennett wanted his team to improve their depth, last season’s biggest weakness.
Bennett believes he has now found out which of his current players are able to step in and play significant minutes, and who still needs work.
“If we lose one or two key players, I want us to be able to win games,” Bennett said. “That’s why we played a lot of people. We’ve definitely been able to see who can, who could and who might need a little bit more time. So mission accomplished, really.”
Marquette completed its spring season by winning the 2012 D1 Wisconsin Spring Cup on Sunday. They defeated Wisconsin-Milwaukee 5-1 in the morning and the Wisconsin-Green Bay Phoenix 2-0 in the final.
Sophomore midfielder Bryan Ciesiulka scored four goals on Sunday, including one penalty kick in each game, netting two in the morning against the Panthers and two more against the Phoenix in the afternoon. With the departure of Calum Mallace, Ciesiulka will spearhead the Golden Eagles’ attack. Scoring seven goals in two games on Sunday, that attack looked as potent as ever.
“This whole spring for me was trying to be dangerous and putting myself in positions to score and assist,” Ciesiulka said. “My teammates today just put the balls on platters for me. We played well, and they were good goals.”
Keeping the ball out of their own net has been a bit of a problem. Sophomore defender Paul Dillon, who played every minute in the fall, noted the goals they conceded came toward the start or finish of games. Dillon put that down to the constant rotation of players throughout the spring.
“We’re conceding goals either really late in games or in the first couple minutes of games, so it’s obviously frustrating,” Dillon said. “But that’s sort of a result of unfamiliar faces.”
Last year was the first time the team truly put Bennett’s preferred style of play into practice. With their smooth, passing style the Golden Eagles took the Big East by storm.
While conceding goals, the Golden Eagles have still maintained plenty of possession time, and Bennett says goals scored against them are just part of the game. He said he thought it wouldn’t be a problem in August.
“I was disappointed that we’ve given goals away in games that we’ve had over 75 percent of the possession, but soccer is like that,” Bennett said. “I was disappointed in that, and that we gave goals away late in the game.”
While there may be some new faces on the team by the time next August rolls around, Bennett is confident in the core of his team at the moment. Bennett has built a certain style of play during his time at Marquette and believes it’s up to the experienced, established players to maintain the passing game the Golden Eagles wish to play.
“Right through the spine,” Bennett said, “I think collectively Eric Pothast, Axel (Sjorberg), Ryan Robb, B (Ciesiulka), all the way up, are going to be important so we can maintain a style.”
With the core of the team in place, Bennett’s Golden Eagles look poised to be contenders in the Big East again next fall.