Scoring was hard to come by this weekend as Marquette only found the back of the net once. They had an average of 2.75 goals per game coming into the weekend, which was tied for 10th in the nation. Now, Marquette and 21 other teams are tied for 23rd with two goals per game.
Friday night against the Wolverines was the first time this season the Golden Eagles left Milwaukee, with the first four matches played at Marquette’s Valley Fields or Engelmann Field at Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Both backlines stood tall for the majority of the match. The teams were scoreless at half and both goalkeepers made one save, but a late one-on-one nearly gave the Wolverines the advantage.
A long ball played over the top of the defense found forward James Murphy, who had the break away opportunity, but the redshirt sophomore defender Axel Sjoberg snuffed out the danger and slid from behind to block the shot and keep the game scoreless.
Late game heroics were required entering the final minute of play with the score still knotted. A throw-in by freshman defender Jake Taylor went into the box, was redirected by Sjoberg’s head and landed on the foot of senior defender Eric Pothast who volleyed it in from a few yards out for the game-winner.
“When you go on the road you kind of have to grind it out, and that’s what we did,” Pothast said. “We played some really good defense and then, you know, you kind of just wait for one chance.”
The goal is Pothast’s first of the year and the fifth game-winner of his career, more than any other team member.
On a rainy Sunday afternoon against Michigan State, opportunities presented themselves but Marquette did not convert.
The Spartans, who outshot Marquette 11-5 in the opening stanza, dominated the first half. Michigan State exploited holes in the defense, and Michigan State junior forward Tim Kreutz capitalized when he took Sjoberg one-on-one. Sjoberg got a piece of the shot on a slide tackle, but the shot deflected up over sprawling redshirt junior goalkeeper Charlie Lyon.
The poor first half performance dug Marquette into a hole and coach Louis Bennett saw that as a determining factor in the match.
“I think the first half performance was definitely not up to par,” Bennett said. “I think Michigan State got a hold on the game, and it made a huge consequence to the final result.”
The sun poked through at the start of the second half, but Marquette conceded another goal in the 50th minute that increased the deficit to two.
Following the goal, Marquette’s offense took over. They managed 16 shots and nine corners in the second half, but good defensive positioning for shot-blocking and great plays from the keeper preserved the Spartans’ lead and the win.
This was the first time since its game against Northwestern in the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season that Marquette did not score in a match.
“We were disappointed, obviously,” Bennett said. “We were disappointed with the outcome. They had a very distinctive game plan, and it was definitely disappointing that we couldn’t consistently do the things we wanted to do to break them down.”
Marquette, now 3-2-1, has one game this weekend (Saturday against Loyola-Chicago at Valley Fields), marking the first time this season it has not played two games in a weekend.