MILWAUKEE -- The Marquette University men's soccer team will kick off the 2016 regular season campaign on Friday night, taking on Kentucky at Valley Fields at 7:05. The Golden Eagles remain home to face Northern Illinois in a Monday night affair also at 7:05. Both contests will be live streamed via GoMarquette.com.
KEY STORYLINES • Friday’s season opener against Kentucky marks the first-ever meeting between both teams and the first time since 2012 that the Golden Eagles will open the regular season at Valley Fields. MU hasn’t opened the year with back-to-back home games since 2008.
The Last Meeting
September 18, 2015
Marquette Soccer Stunned by NIU in Double OT
The Marquette University men's soccer team was 55 seconds away from closing out a narrow non-conference victory until Northern Illinois found the equalizer in the 90th minute and then the game-winner in the second overtime to hand the Golden Eagles a disappointing 3-2 setback at Valley Fields, Friday, Sept. 18.
• The 2016 Golden Eagles welcome 13 newcomers this season, the largest incoming class during the Louis Bennett-era at Marquette.
• Kentucky enters the season nationally-ranked in a pair of preseason polls, coming in No. 21 according to TopDrawerSoccer.com and No. 23 in College Soccer News’ poll.
• Monday’s match-up against Northern Illinois will mark the fifth meeting in the last six seasons between both squads with both sides splitting the previous four match-ups.
PRESEASON REPORT • The Golden Eagles used three preseason exhibitions to prepare for the 2016 regular season, taking on Wright State (Aug. 13) and Detroit (Aug. 16) at home before wrapping things up on the road against Omaha (Aug. 20).
• Wright State collected a late goal in the opener to take the match 2-1 at Valley Fields. MU featured two separate lineups to start each half and made few substitutions throughout. Daniel Szczepanek notched the lone MU goal in the 3rd minute.
• Freshman striker Jan Maertins scored four times in 39 minutes to spot MU with a 4-0 advantage over Detroit at halftime. The Golden Eagles would lead 5-0 after regulation before UD scored in an extra-time session that was agreed upon by both teams at the start.
• The preseason finale against Omaha featured a more regular season-like approach as MU used just six substitutions. Omaha scored the first goal in the 2nd minute of the match before the defense locked things down the rest of the way. Luka Prpa’s goal in the 56th minute tied the match. After regulation, both sides agreed to a tie-break shootout that saw the hosts prevail, 5-4.
SCOUTING THE WILDCATS • Kentucky is coming off a season in which it won the Conference-USA regular season title and earned an NCAA tournament berth after going 12-5-2 overall, including a 7-0-1 mark in C-USA play. Not surprisingly, the Wildcats were picked to repeat according to the league’s preseason poll and top returning senior midfielder Napo Matsoso was voted the preseason Offensive Player of the Year after notching 14 points on five goals and four assists in 2015.
• The Wildcats boasted an impressive backline a year ago, ranking ninth in the nation in goals against average (0.66), while recording 10 shutouts, and enter 2016 preseason ranked No. 21 and No. 23 as according to TopDrawerSoccer.com and College Soccer News, respectively.
ALL-TIME SERIES vs. KENTUCKY • This will be the first regular season meeting all-time between Marquette and Kentucky. However, both sides met in a 2010 preseason exhibition, playing to a 2-2 draw in Lexington that saw Calum Mallace (’11) score the game-tying goal with just 47 seconds remaining.
SCOUTING THE HUSKIES • Northern Illinois enters Monday’s match-up after having opened the season at SIU-Edwardsville on Friday night. The Huskies, who finished .500 a season ago with a 7-7-1 mark, placed fifth in the Mid-American Conference with a 1-3-1 ledger. NIU was picked by the league’s coaches to finish sixth in 2016 according to the MAC Preseason Poll.
• The Huskies return eight starters from 2015, including 65 percent of their scoring output. Luke Read, although a defender, is the team’s leading returning goal scorer after potting five goals last season. Drew Donnally is the only returning goalkeeper that saw action in 2015, appearing in one half of one game, while making one save and earning the partial shutout in a win.
ALL-TIME SERIES vs. NIU • The match-up will mark the 27th meeting all-time between both teams. Marquette leads the all-time series 14-10-2 and is 12-3 in the last 15 meetings. The Huskies came into Valley Fields a year ago and pulled off a 3-2 overtime win.
• In their last meeting, MU took a 2-1 lead late into the match thanks to goals by Kelmend Islami (44’) and David Selvaggi (82’), but NIU’s Read scored in the 90th minute to send it to extra-time before Cole Taylor supplied the game-winner in the 102nd.
SEASON OPENERS • Marquette will open its 52nd season in program history when it hosts Kentucky at Valley Fields on Friday night, marking the first season opener at home since knocking off UW-Milwaukee, 3-2, in 2012.
• MU is 4-6 in its last 10 season lid-lifters and looking to snap a three-game losing skid. However, the Golden Eagles carry a 7-2-2 mark in home openers at Valley Fields since 2005 and are unbeaten in their last four home-opening matches, going 3-0-1, including a 3-2 win over Dayton a season ago. During that span, the Golden Eagles have outscored opponents 22-15.
MEN’S SOCCER EXCELS IN THE CLASSROOM • The Marquette men’s soccer team placed 19 student-athletes on its 26-member 2015 squad on the BIG EAST Conference All-Academic Team. Marquette had a whopping 195 student-athletes recognized in total and the 19 honorees for men’s soccer were the fourth-most of any Marquette program.
MU WELCOMES LARGEST INCOMING CLASS OF Louis Bennett ERA • Marquette head coach Louis Bennett welcomes his largest incoming class in his 11 seasons at the helm. The 13-member class has a global element, featuring 12 freshmen and one sophomore, spanning five countries (Cyprus, Germany, Spain, Norway, U.S.) and three states (Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa). It was rated the 18th-best recruiting class in the nation by TopDrawerSoccer.com. Wind Lake, Wisconsin native Luka Prpa highlights this year’s class, having been rated No. 36 on TopDrawerSoccer.com’s list of Top-150 recruits of 2016, including the top midfielder in the Midwest.
POTHAST LANDS ON ALL-BIG EAST PRESEASON TEAM; MU PICKED SEVENTH • Senior central defender and team captain John Pothast earned All-BIG EAST Preseason team honors for the first time in his career. Pothast returns as the team’s most veteran presence and active leading scorer with 11 points on three goals and five assists.
• The Golden Eagles were picked to finish tied for seventh with St. John’s in the BIG EAST Preseason Poll. MU went 5-10-2, including 1-7-1 in league play a season ago after absorbing many key injuries throughout the year. Preseason Coaches’ Poll 1. Creighton -- 74 pts. (5 first-place votes) 2. Georgetown -- 71 pts. (2) 3. Providence -- 64 pts. (2) 4. Xavier -- 58 pts. (1) 5. Butler -- 56 pts. 6. Villanova -- 39 pts. T7. Marquette -- 28 pts. T7. St. John’s -- 28 pts. 9. DePaul -- 22 pts. 10. Seton Hall -- 10 pts.
BIG EAST IN THE POLLS • The BIG EAST Conference ranks among the top league’s in the nation once again with Creighton and Georgetown earning national recognition in the polls to start the 2016 season, ranking seventh and 10th, respectively, according to the NSCAA Preseason Poll, while TopDrawerSoccer.com highlighted Georgetown seventh and Creighton 14th. In 2015, the BIG EAST featured upwards of four teams in the Top-20 at times, led by Creighton as a fixture atop the polls for the majority of the season.
SEVEN MARQUETTE MATCHES FEATURED ON BEDN IN 2016 • For the second straight year, seven of Marquette’s will nine BIG EAST Conference regular season matches will air live on the BIG EAST Digital Network. The final six BIG EAST matches will be featured, including Marquette’s last three road contests against Creighton, Providence and Butler. The first BEDN broadcast will be the league opener at Valley Fields against St. John’s on Saturday, Sept. 17.
Louis Bennett II SIGNS PRO, FORGOES SENIOR YEAR • Three-year starting midfielder Louis Bennett II has decided to forgo his senior season in the after signing a three-year contract with professional club Anorthosis Famagusta FC of Cyprus.
• Bennett II was a three-time All-BIG EAST Conference performer and two-time NSCAA All-Region team selection. He finished his Marquette career with 32 points on nine goals and 14 assists in 55 career appearances, including 53 starts.
• The Shorewood, Wisconsin native is just a few credits shy of completing his degree in communications and is still on track to graduate during the 2016-17 academic year.
GOLDEN EAGLES IN THE PROS • Louis Bennett II is just the latest Marquette signee to earn a professional contract overseas, joining 2015 alumnus C. Nortey (Akademisk Boldklub/Denmark), 2010 grad Matt Pyzdrowski (Helsingborgs IF/Sweden) and former recruit Andrija Novakovic (Reading FC/England), who signed prior to what would have been his freshman season in 2014.
• The Golden Eagles also feature three additional alumni grads currently under contract in Major League Soccer with Calum Mallace (Montreal Impact) currently in his fifth season, and Axel Sjoberg (Colorado Rapids) and Charlie Lyon (Seattle Sounders) each in their second seasons in 2016.
MLS HOMEGROWN PLAYERS ON 2016 ROSTER • Since Louis Bennett took over the reigns at Marquette the program has always had strong ties to the MLS Academy. Currently, there are eight “homegrown” players currently on the roster. Incoming freshmen Connor Alba (Chicago Fire), Luka Prpa (Chicago Magic PSG) and Michael Gallo (Chicago Magic PSG) join fellow MLS Academy grads redshirt sophomore Martin Alba (Chicago Fire) along with sophomores Luis Barraza (Real Salt Lake-Arizona), Kees Westra (Seattle Sounders FC), Ruben Sanchez (Chicago Magic PSG) and Toby Howell (Chargers SC).
• Former Golden Eagle Louis Bennett II (Chicago Fire) was also an Academy grad before coming to Marquette, in addition to others that include: Coco Navarro (Real Salt Lake-Arizona), Charlie Lyon (Chicago Fire) and Brady Wahl (Chicago Fire).
• The Homegrown Player Rule is a Major League Soccer program that allows MLS teams the option to sign local players from their own development academies directly to MLS first team rosters.
NEW WORLD CLASS INDOOR FACILITY TO HOUSE MU SOCCER • A new indoor athletic performance center, which will combine indoor playing fields for Marquette’s soccer and lacrosse programs, an indoor track, and a world-class athletic performance research facility was announced on Jan. 29, 2015 by MU President Dr. Michael R. Lovell. The facility will be located on the 800 block of Michigan Street and is expected to house offices and locker rooms for MU soccer. Through a strategic partnership with the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, cutting-edge faculty and student research in sports performance, medicine, nutrition and rehabilitation will enhance the performance of Marquette student-athletes and professional athletes worldwide.