MU Gets Past Xavier in BIG EAST Opener, 1-0
Sept. 28, 2013
CINCINATTI - C. Nortey's 31st-minute goal was the difference Saturday night as the Marquette University men's soccer team won its BIG EAST Conference opener with a 1-0 shutout over the Xavier Musketeers at Xavier University Soccer Complex.
Marquette (5-2-1, 1-0-0 BIG EAST), which recorded its fourth clean sheet of season and second consecutive shutout, halted the Musketeers' (3-4-2, 0-1-0 BIG EAST) five-match unbeaten streak with a gritty performance to start the Golden Eagles' season-long three-game road stretch.
"Three points in our league, as competitive as it is, is hugely important," said Marquette head coach Louis Bennett. "You can't get anything for free; you have to work for everything. I thought we played with high intensity and good tempo for 90 minutes, and we matched their work rate, which is also important, because Xavier is used to grinding out games."
MU has now won five of its last six matches, while claiming victories in its last four league openers.
Nortey, a redshirt sophomore, provided all the scoring the Golden Eagles would need Saturday with his team-leading fourth tally of the season and 13th of his career.
The Ghanaian striker created his own opportunity when he split a pair of Xavier defenders with his first touch off a pass from teammate Coco Navarro. Nortey side-stepped another tackle and launched a strike from the top of the 18-yard box, finishing top-shelf.
Besides helping control the pace of the match, the Golden Eagles' backline didn't have much to do in the second half. Xavier managed just one shot in final 50 minutes of action, a header in the 78th minute by Garrett Halfhill that resulted in Marquette goalkeeper Charlie Lyon's lone save of the night.
Marquette's defense was tested in the final seconds of regulation, however, but withstood potential equalizing opportunities by thwarting back-to-back corner kicks by the Musketeers in the final minute of play.
"We put a lot of pressure on [Xavier] every time they had the ball," said Bennett. "We squeezed the field and prevented them from playing. That was a collective effort. I thought Charlie Lyon did a good job of organizing, and the guys in front of him just put the work in."
All-American midfielder Bryan Ciesiulka came off the bench early in the first half for the Golden Eagles, returning to the pitch for the first time since he suffered a head injury in the regular-season opener back on Aug. 30. Ciesiulka played 58 minutes in the victory.
Bennett and the Golden Eagles travel next to Madison, Wis. on Wednesday, Oct. 2 for a 7 p.m. (Central time) match-up against the in-state rival Wisconsin Badgers for the final non-conference game of the season.
Marquette Starters: Lyon (GK), E. Pothast, Wahl, Sjoberg, Nortey, Navarro, Bennett II, Dillon, Lysak, Holowaty, Jansson; Subs: Hermsen, Islami, Ciesiulka, Taylor, Hoover
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