Men's Soccer Announces 2009 Schedule

June 16, 2009

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MILWAUKEE - Marquette University head men's soccer coach Louis Bennett announced Tuesday the Golden Eagles' schedule for the upcoming 2009 fall season. This year the Golden Eagles will take on 10 of the 12 schools that advanced to the BIG EAST Men's Soccer Championship last season, including five teams coming off NCAA tournament appearances.

"We've got some very exciting games," Bennett said of the 2009 fixtures. "The student body and the soccer fans in the community are going to get to see college soccer at its best. College soccer is exciting, it's economical and it's educational. You can bring young players down to Valley Fields and see one of the highest levels of soccer that perhaps they'll ever see."

Bennett's squad will open exhibition play with the annual intra-squad Blue vs. Gold match on Sunday, Aug. 16. It will also mark the annual Fan Fest event, which is free to the public.

"Fans can come down to Fan Fest and grab some information about the regular season, they can meet with the players and get some autographs, and they can engage in some soccer-related activities," said Bennett. "Then we'll play the blue and gold game. It's our third year doing this event, and all of them have been a huge success."

The Golden Eagles will then take on Michigan and Valparaiso in road exhibition games before returning to Valley Fields for their final exhibition match on Aug. 28 against Kentucky. The Wolverines advanced to the third round of NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Championship a season ago as the No. 14 seed following a 13-6-3 campaign.

The Golden Eagles will have their eyes on their second consecutive Milwaukee Cup title as they host UW-Milwaukee on Sept. 1 at Valley Fields to open the regular season. Last season's 2-0 victory snapped a five-game winless streak for Marquette against the Panthers.

"It's a great way to start the season," said Bennett. "It will give the soccer fan great insight what will be going on with Marquette soccer this season. UWM is our crosstown rival, and it is for the cup that we hold. I want this to be a festival of soccer. I'm sure there will be some brimstone and fire with all of this, which is sort of what we're after."

Marquette will then travel to Des Moines, Iowa to take on a Drake squad that made their first NCAA tournament appearance in program history last season. Drake returns 10 of 11 starters from the record-setting squad, including four All-Missouri Valley First Team selections.

This year Marquette will host three teams in the second annual Marquette Invitational to be played at Valley Field the second weekend of September. The tournament, which also features fellow conference foe DePaul, will pit the two BIG EAST teams against Big West Conference member UC Irvine and Mid-American Conference member Buffalo on Sept. 11 and Sept. 13.

"It will be a great opportunity to see the East Coast and the West Coast," Bennett said. "You get to see Buffalo from the MAC, a very gritty team, a very succesful team in that conference. Then on the other side, there's UC Irvine, which had a great season last year. You'll see a different style of soccer. It will be a wonderful soccer spectacle without a doubt and a test for our team."

The Golden Eagles take to the road for their first two BIG EAST Conference matches of the season, playing at USF and DePaul, neither of which Marquette played in 2008. Reigning BIG EAST tournament champion USF advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Championship last season before falling to eventual semifinalist Wake Forest.

"Going away to USF is going to be a huge challenge, then bouncing right back, going to Chicago and playing DePaul on their unique field -- that's a test in itself," Bennett said. "Those are two difficult games off the bat  because of the different challenges that they present. But that epitomizes the BIG EAST. Everyone presents their own type of challenges."

Of the games against the five schools that played in the 2008 NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Championship, only two matches will be at Valley Fields this season - Louisville and Notre Dame. The Golden Eagles will host six BIG EAST matches, all against teams that finished in the top six of their respective conference divisions and qualified for the BIG EAST Championship.

Bennett will look toward a home field advantage against tough BIG EAST competition over a two week span, featuring two NCAA tournament teams in Louisville and Notre Dame, along with Cincinnati and West Virginia. Marquette played the Cardinals to a 1-1 tie in double overtime last season in Louisville. The Golden Eagles will face stiff defense against the Mountaineers, as BIG EAST Goalkeeper of the of Year, Zach Johnson, returns for his third season.

"A lot of people may look at the schedule and say, 'wow, you don't get a break,'" said Bennett. "Well, you can't afford to get a break if you want to be successful. You have to play these games being in the BIG EAST. You're not in this league to avoid good teams, because you can't."

Marquette travels to BIG EAST opponent Seton Hall on Nov. 10 before returning to Valley Fields for matches against Patriot League member Bucknell and conference member Georgetown.

The Golden Eagles close out the season with four teams they suffered losses to last season. Marquette will travel to in-state rival Wisconsin, Providence and Connecticut before returning to Milwaukee to play the final regular season game at Valley Fields against Pittsburgh on Saturday, Oct. 31. The Blue and Gold will recognize the efforts of seven seniors in Senior Night ceremonies against the Panthers.

"We've got some fantastic home games," said Bennett. "When you look down the schedule and see Cincinnati, Louisville, West Virginia, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Pittsburgh -- all of those teams are looking to contend in their respective divisions in the conference."




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