After starting the season on a low note, the Marquette men’s soccer team rebounded this weekend to win the Panther Invitational. The team played Bowling Green Friday at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Engelmann Stadium and turned around to host Drake Sunday at Valley Fields.
For the invitational, Marquette (2-1-1) was without co-captain Bryan Ciesiulka, who has been out with a concussion since the season opener against UW-Milwaukee. Ciesiulka’s absence left the captain’s band open for redshirt sophomore defender Axel Sjoberg to play a big part of Marquette’s win. Sjoberg allowed only one goal in the tournament and scored his first goal of the season against Drake.
“I always pride myself in leading the team and anyone on the field can really do it and I just wore the band today and I was proud to do so,” Sjoberg said.
Sjoberg’s weekend performances earned him MVP honors for the invitational and an all-tournament team nod alongside teammates freshman midfielder Louis Bennett II, redshirt senior forward Adam Lysak and junior midfielder Brady Wahl.
Friday, a slow start left both Bowling Green and Marquette scoreless at the break. The offense, however, found a rhythm early in the second half and struck in the 50th minute. Lysak played a give and go with redshirt sophomore C. Nortey and Lysak one-timed the return pass low for the 1-0 lead.
Nearly 20 minutes later, freshman midfielder Louis Bennett II tacked on an insurance goal. Receiving the ball at the top of the 18-yard box, Bennett took a touch and rocketed one past the diving keeper for the first goal of his college career.
Nortey added another goal in the 81st minute when he put away a cross from senior defender Paul Dillon with a diving header. Redshirt junior goalkeeper Charlie Lyon and the defense also recorded their first shutout of the season, but allowed 15 shots.
After a quick turnaround, Marquette faced Drake Sunday. Bennett II’s scoring touch showed up for the second consecutive game, as he scored the first goal with a shot that curled into the back of the net from 18 yards out. During his celebration, Bennett II ran to his dad, coach Louis Bennett Sr., and gave him a hug.
Minutes later, freshman defender Jake Taylor crossed in a ball that deflected off Nortey’s head and Coco Navarro finished it off on the back post to extend the lead.
Navarro led all scorers against Drake, posting four points on a goal and two assists. The first assist came on the Bennett goal and the other came late in the game to junior midfielder Sebastian Jansson who scored an open-net goal in the 88th minute to seal the game.
Drake scored once and Marquette made two more during the second half while the Golden Eagles kept their foot on the gas for the rest of the game and pulled out a victory.
The freshmen standouts—Bennett II, Navarro, and Taylor—have played outstanding thus far. Together they made six of Marquette’s 11 goals, are all top scorers on the team and helped Marquette score three or more goals in the last three games.
“Little by little (the freshmen have) had small victories,” Bennett said, “They’ve really rose to the occasion.”
Marquette hopes to keep the success rolling Friday when they make their first out-of-state trip to take on Michigan in Ann Arbor.