Men's Soccer Releases 2017 Schedule
June 5, 2017
MILWAUKEE - Head coach Louis Bennett and the Marquette University men's soccer team has announced the 2017 schedule, featuring seven regular season home games and seven opponents that qualified for last season's NCAA Championship.
"I'm really happy with the schedule," said Bennett, who enters his 12th season at the helm. "We spent a lot of time discussing how we wanted it to look and I think the strategy was to get the best possible team to play at the most appropriate time. I'm very pleased that we were able to schedule ample recovery time between games as we have at least two days between games and even more during BIG EAST play."
The Golden Eagles open preseason action at home with their annual Fan Fest event and Blue & Gold Scrimmage to take place at Valley Fields on Friday, Aug. 11. The team's lone home exhibition match will be against Green Bay (Aug. 13) followed by the final preseason exhibition against NCAA participant, Loyola-Chicago (Aug. 19).
The regular season begins with three-straight returning NCAA qualifiers, leading off with Kentucky (Aug. 25). MU makes the return trip to the Wildcats after dropping a 4-0 decision in the 2016 season opener at Valley Fields. The Golden Eagles then return to Milwaukee for their home opener, taking on Illinois-Chicago (Sept. 1). Marquette topped UIC by a 4-1 score on the road in 2016.
"Opening up against Kentucky and then three games against tough opponents is a great way to start the season," Bennett said. "When you look through the teams that we scheduled during the non-conference portion, those teams are going to be pushing to win their respective conferences, so they're going to be successful teams. Hopefully, we can stack up some invaluable experience for the bulk of our conference games."
A first-time opponent and the third of three-straight returning NCAA tournament teams is New Mexico, which visits Milwaukee on Labor Day (Sept. 4). The three-game home stand will conclude with Midwest rival Saint Louis on Sept. 9. MU and SLU played to a 1-1 draw one year ago in the Gateway City.
Another difficult road test features the fourth 2016 NCAA tournament qualifier in five games as Marquette heads to Virginia (Sept. 12) for the first meeting between both teams since MU's 2013 NCAA Sweet Sixteen run that ended with a loss to the Cavaliers in Charlottesville.
"The season is always more challenging because of the imbalance of the conference," Bennett said of having to play five league games on the road versus just four at home. "When you go to someone's backyard, it has different challenges than if you're playing on your own turf. When we go away to teams like Kentucky and Virginia, we are going to build invaluable experience for when we play league games against the likes of Xavier, Georgetown and Villanova."
MU opens BIG EAST Conference play on the road versus Villanova on Sept. 16, looking to avenge the Wildcats' late comeback in a 2-1 win at Valley Fields last season. On Sept. 23, the Golden Eagles will host Seton Hall in their first league home contest.
Marquette then hits the road for three-straight, but features a pair of rivalry games surrounding a tough matchup at Georgetown (Sept. 30).
The 45th Annual Milwaukee Cup will pit the Golden Eagles and Panthers at Englemann Stadium on Sept. 26, followed by a rematch Wisconsin in Madison on Oct. 4. Marquette went 0-1-1 against its rivals at Valley Fields in 2016, settling for a 3-3 draw against Milwaukee and a 1-0 setback following the Badgers' 22nd minute goal.
The final six regular season games will take place against league opponents with a home matchup against Providence (Oct. 7) following its impressive 2016 run to the NCAA quarterfinals. Back-to-back road meetings against St. John's (Oct. 14) and Xavier (Oct. 20) precede two more NCAA tournament qualifiers coming to Milwaukee in the form of Creighton (Oct. 25) and Butler (Oct. 28).
"Our conference is going to be very strong once again," Bennett said of the BIG EAST Conference, which sent four teams (Creighton, Providence, Villanova, Xavier) to the NCAA tournament in 2016. "It's really exciting to be a part of a league like this with teams that play such different styles and do so successfully.
"We'll have eight new players, but a lot of returners with valuable experience against those teams. The schedule is going to be challenging, but rewarding as we begin to put results together."
For the fifth consecutive year, Marquette will close out the regular season against DePaul as the Golden Eagles head south to Chicago for a Nov. 2 meeting.
The 2017 BIG EAST Championship will feature the league's top-six teams in a three-round tournament with the higher-seeded team of each matchup serving as the host. The tournament begins Nov. 5 with quarterfinal matches followed by the semifinals on Nov. 9, and the championship to be decided Nov. 12. The tournament champion will receive the league's automatic bid to the 2017 College Cup.
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