Saturday’s match against Providence may not have been the prettiest win of the season, but the No. 20 Marquette men’s soccer team managed to stay perfect in the Big East this weekend with a 1-0 victory.
Marquette did not look like itself in Rhode Island. The Golden Eagles were outshot for the second time this season with an 18-10 shot differential. The team only put up two shots in the first half, the lowest in a single half all season.
The low shot totals were not enough to stop the attack though as the golden opportunity arose late in the match.
In the 73rd minute, senior defender Paul Dillon sent junior forward Kelmend Islami up the left touchline. Islami took a few dribbles and attempted to split the defenders and tapped the ball to charging freshman midfielder Louis Bennett II. Bennett II took a shot from the top of the 18 and his high arching shot found its way over the goalie’s head and dipped into the back of the net.
“We got it forward to the line to Kelmend and he did a good job of cutting inside, which we try to work on in practice and he laid it off perfectly for me at the top of the box and it just kind of came down to me finishing and putting it on target,” Bennett II said.
From then on, it was a bitter fight to the end. The Friars offense went on a tear trying to find an equalizer, and nearly did in the final minute. Two late corners for Providence required saves from redshirt junior goalkeeper Charlie Lyon, and he kept the ball out of the net to fend off the late rally.
The tough road contest proved taxing as Marquette used 17 players in the tilt. Junior forward Sebastian Jansson and freshman defender Jake Taylor returned to action this weekend after missing the last two matches due to injuries.
The defense did not see many personnel changes. The only defensive substitute was Taylor, who normally shares time with Dillon. The two had quite the workload Saturday with all the shots; nevertheless, the backline held off the attack with the help of some great goalkeeping from Lyon to record his seventh clean sheet of the season.
“We defended really well,” junior defender Brady Wahl said. “We defended really well as a whole unit and anytime you hold a team to no goals, all 10 field players and the goalie were defending well. I think its credit to the whole group.”
With the win, Marquette stays undefeated in league play and moves up to 15 points, five ahead of second place Georgetown. The team’s performance in Big East play is nice to have in a tough league, but coach Louis Bennett says that at the end of the day, they are just taking it one game at a time and want to win as many games as possible.
“Numerically we can’t get any better,” Bennett said. ”I don’t think that will place a lot of emphasis, we definitely try to get as many goals as we can. Our target is to win the championship, second is to make sure we get to PPL Park, and win as many games as possible. So if you add all those things up, we’re on track.”
A busy week awaits the team as they travel to St. John’s Wednesday night and then face No. 10 Georgetown at home Saturday.