Marquette Soccer Wins at UIC in Road Opener
Sept. 2, 2016
CHICAGO – The Marquette University men’s soccer team scored four unanswered goals after allowing an early score just 31 seconds into the match and defeated the University of Illinois-Chicago 4-1 in the road opener at Flames Field on Friday night.
Having not returned a single goal-scorer from a season ago, there were question marks coming into the season about who would provide the scoring. After the season opening 4-0 setback to Kentucky, those questions remained. Now, two games and eight goals later, this young squad is beginning to find its identity as a young, scrappy and technically sound bunch.
“You need three things to win games and that’s heart, mind and soul,” Marquette head coach Louis Bennett said. “Sometimes when you give a goal away that early, it can be futile for the fragile and, if there’s one thing we’re not, it’s definitely not fragile. Tonight, we really showed the heart and soul of our team. And in the end, it was our brains keeping the ball away, keeping possession and not giving up silly turnovers.”
Marquette (2-1-0) freshman Luka Prpa impressed once again, registering another six-point effort with two goals and two assists in the win, giving him 12 points (4 goals, 4 assists) in his last two matches. It highlighted a come-from-behind effort that resulted in the second straight victory for the Golden Eagles.
“Great players have 360 vision,” Bennett said. “Luka does a lot of things well, but best of all is the way he sees the field and you saw that again tonight.”
MU fell behind early, allowing a UIC (0-2-1) goal just 31 seconds into the contest when Jose Fuentes squeezed one inside the near right post through traffic. Only a few minutes later, Prpa found the equalizer and then assisted Jan Maertins to give MU the lead 47 seconds before the halftime horn sounded.
In the 55th minute, sophomore Toby Howell scored his first career goal, taking a pass from Prpa and racing up the far sideline before making a move to the middle of the field and bending a right-footed blast inside the right post. It was a fitting reward for a guy who had been making an impact all over the field throughout the contest.
“The day really has to go to Toby Howell,” Bennett said. “He struggled to find the net in his first season, but he’s one that really thinks and works on his game a lot. I thought he played fantastic. He was a catalyst that spurred everyone on, breaking them down from the time we went a goal down. I thought he was fantastic.”
Just four minutes later, Prpa pounced on the ball at the top of the box and found the back of an open net after the UIC keeper left his line to try and make a play on the ball. It was all MU needed to close out its second straight victory and first in a road opener since knocking off Green Bay back in 2012.
Luis Barraza earned the start and made four saves in picking up his first win of the campaign. The defense as a whole deserved a lot of credit for holding UIC scoreless for the final 89-plus minutes after allowing the early goal.
“Each person has to take care of the small details of their job and that’s what we’re doing,” Bennett said of his defense. “We’re taking care of the small details a lot better than in the past. We showed a lot of heart, mind and soul in the win today.”
The Golden Eagles will be back in action on Monday, Sept. 5, when they play host to Northwestern at Valley Fields at 7:05 p.m. Marquette students in attendance will receive free cheese pizza in honor of National Cheese Pizza Day.
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