Men's Soccer Defeats Loyola Chicago in Preseason Finale

Aug. 19, 2017

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CHICAGO - A sensational diving header by freshman Manuel Cukaj in the 18th minute held up as the Marquette University men's soccer team closed out the preseason with a 1-0 road victory over preseason top-25 ranked Loyola Chicago Saturday night. The Golden Eagles open the regular season at Kentucky on Friday.

"This was a good preseason challenge," Marquette head coach Louis Bennett said. "For large portions of the game we played well and showed the style and character we were looking for both in defending the Loyola attack and creating chances for ourselves."

Marquette set the tempo from the outset and kept pressure on the Ramblers throughout the match to the tune of a 15-9 shots advantage. Recently picked the favorite to repeat as Missouri Valley Conference champions, Loyola Chicago is coming off an NCAA tournament run and an undefeated home record (9-0-0) in 2016.

"We were credited with 15 shots, including a cross bar and inside post, but only four on target," Bennett said. "A 30 percent on-target ratio was enough on the day, but can be improved. Credit to Luis Barraza (one save) and the backline for keeping a clean sheet."

The Ramblers, who hold a Top Drawer Soccer preseason No. 25 ranking, tried to take advantage with a pair of chances early and nearly found the equalizer in the 62nd minute, but it was Cukaj again playing the hero and clearing a ball off the goal line.

The German defender's play was in mid-season form and his 18th-minute goal proved to be the decisive tally. His superb finish at the near post was aided by a brilliant cross by junior transfer Brody Kraussel at the edge of the penalty area. Kraussel, who spent his first two seasons with the Ramblers and finished 2016 in the nation's top-10 with 10 assists, started both preseason exhibition matches and looks fit to be a major contributor for the Golden Eagles in 2017.

Sophomore Luka Prpa had an impressive showing as well with a match-best seven shots.

"This game gives us more food for thought and strong indications about our team, formations and strengths," Bennett said. "It definitely indicates we could have quality options to select from when we don't have a full squad selection.

"We'll have a rest day now before beginning our final prep for the season opener in Kentucky," Bennett added.

Marquette will open the regular season against the Kentucky Wildcats on the road with kickoff slated for 6:30 p.m. Central time.

Keep up with the Marquette men's soccer program through social media by following on Twitter (@MarquetteSoccer) and Instagram (@MarquetteSoccer) and `liking' on Facebook (/MarquetteSoccer).

GOAL SUMMARY
18' | MU | Manuel Cukaj (Brody Kraussel): Crossed from the edge of the box by Kraussel, who delivered a brilliant ball to Cukaj, which was headed in from six yards out at the near post.

STARTING XI
Marquette: 1-Barraza, 4-Cukaj, 6-Alba, M., 7-Seagrist, 8-Kraussel, 9-Szczepanek, 11-Alba, C., 12-Böhm, 14-Prpa, 15-Sanchez, 17-Owens

Loyola Chicago: 1-Aylward, 2-Kullmann, 10-Lifka, 11-Collier, 12-Thomson, 13-Parrish, 15-Stevenson, 19-Megally, 21-Bartlett, 22-Stephenson, 23-Stoneman

NEXT MATCH
Opponent: at Kentucky
Location: Lexington, Ky.
Date: Friday, Aug. 25
Time: 6:30 p.m. Central time


 

 

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