Marquette Soccer Travels to BIG EAST Foe Providence

Oct. 25, 2016

2016 Marquette Men's Soccer - Match 14
Marquette (4-5-4, 1-3-2 BIG EAST) at Providence (9-5-0, 4-2-0 BIG EAST)
Date Wednesday, Oct. 26 | 6:05 p.m. CT
Location Anderson Stadium | Providence, R.I.
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MILWAUKEE – The Marquette University men’s soccer team kicks off its final regular season road trip against a streaking Providence squad that has won five straight matches. The Golden Eagles are looking to put an end to that, while trying to keep their BIG EAST tournament prospects intact and spoiling the Friars’ Senior Night ceremony in the process. Kickoff is slated for Wednesday, Oct. 26, at 6:05 p.m. Central time.

The Last Meeting
October 28, 2015
Valley Fields
Second Half Comeback Propels Friars Past Marquette
On a cold, windy evening at Valley Fields, the Marquette University men's soccer team wasn't able to overcome the offensive pressure from Providence, falling 4-3 to the Friars, allowing the go-ahead goal 15 seconds after C. Nortey provided the equalizer.

Marquette is coming off a big 4-1 upset win over Xavier last Saturday and it doesn’t get any easier down the stretch. Providence has won five straight matches, including four against BIG EAST foes, and sits in third place in the league standings. The Friars snapped a five-match winless skid against the Golden Eagles with a 4-3 win last year in Milwaukee, while Marquette is looking to make it four straight victories against Providence in Rhode Island.

Luka Prpa was honored this week with his third BIG EAST Freshman of the Week award and was selected to a pair of National Teams of the Week by College Soccer News and Top Drawer Soccer after scoring twice in the win over Xavier. Daniel Szczepanek (1g, 2a) and Luis Barraza (9 saves) made the BIG EAST Weekly honor roll for their stellar performances on Saturday as well.

As a team, the Golden Eagles rank 34th nationally, averaging 1.77 goals per contest, which is third in the BIG EAST. The team’s 13.77 shots per game is good for 48th nationally and fifth in the BIG EAST. Individually, Prpa ranks 21st in the nation and second in the BIG EAST with 22 points. That mark bumps up to 12th in the country and first in the BIG EAST with 1.69 points per match through 13 matches. Barraza is 31st nationally and tops in the BIG EAST with 4.70 saves per match.

Providence enters play riding a five-match winning streak after taking down DePaul, 2-1, last Saturday on the road. The Friars are 9-5 overall and currently rank third in the BIG EAST with a 4-2 mark, winning four straight after dropping their first two league matches to Georgetown and Butler. During its current streak, PC is outscoring opponents 9-3.

The Friars’ offensive output has been somewhat diminished by the loss of Preseason BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year Mac Steeves, who suffered a season-ending injury after appearing in just two games. Providence ranks seventh in the BIG EAST with 17 goals scored this year, but fortunately boasts another Preseason All-BIG EAST performer in Julian Gressel, who has accounted for nine of the team’s 17 goals this season. In fact, only six Friars have found the back of the net this year with Gressel and (9g, 4a) and Danny Griffin (4 goals) as the only scorers with multiple goals.

Defensively, the Friars rank third in the league with just 12 goals allowed thanks to the brilliant play of their goalkeepers. Colin Miller has received eight of 14 starts for PC and sports a perfect 8-0-0 record with a miniscule 0.37 GAA, while making 28 saves with a .903 save percentage. Ben Seguljic has earned the remaining six starts, going 1-5-0 over that stretch with a 1.45 GAA and a .757 save percentage.

Wednesday’s match-up in Providence will mark the 12th meeting all-time between the Golden Eagles and Friars. The hosts carry the slight edge with a 6-4-1 record as they snapped a five-match winless streak to Marquette with a 4-3 win a season ago in Milwaukee. Prior to that, MU had won four straight, including three regular season battles in Rhode Island and a BIG EAST Championship in 2013, with a 1-1 draw in Milwaukee in 2014.

Last season’s meeting saw both teams combine for seven goals. Kelmend Islami scored in the 28th and 32nd minutes to give Marquette a 2-1 lead at halftime, but Klisman Sousa and Julian Gressel each connected within the first 5 minutes of the second half to flip the advantage. It wasn’t until the 86th minute that C. Nortey broke through with a spectacular header, but that was followed by Dominik Machado’s surprising answer just 16 seconds later to give PC a 4-3 win.

PC outshot MU 20-13 in the match and Marquette was unable to take advantage of a 9-5 edge in corner kicks.

Following Wednesday’s match-up against Providence, the Golden Eagles will close out the road portion of its regular season schedule with a meeting at No. 15 Butler on Saturday, Oct. 29.

Luka Prpa’s two-goal performance in a win over then-second place Xavier last Saturday garnered numerous awards this week as he was named BIG EAST Freshman of the Week for the third time this season and landed on the College Soccer News and Top Drawer Soccer National Teams of the Week for the second time this year. The Wind Lake, Wisconsin native now ranks tied for second in the BIG EAST with 22 points on eight goals and six assists for the Golden Eagles this season.

Also, earning league recognition were redshirt junior Daniel Szczepanek, who tallied a goal and two assists in the win over Xavier, and sophomore goalkeeper Luis Barraza, who matched a career-high with nine saves in the win.

For the eighth year in a row, the Marquette men’s soccer team earned the NSCAA Team Academic Award, having compiled a cumulative grade point average of 3.26 for the 2015-16 academic year. Back in July, the team placed 19 of its student-athletes on the BIG EAST All-Academic Team, which was the fourth-most of any program at Marquette.

Through 13 matches, MU newcomers have accounted for 47 of the team’s 67 points, including 17 of 23 goals scored, led by Luka Prpa’s 22 points on eight goals and six assists.

On Oct. 22 against Xavier, a squad that ranked second in the BIG EAST and was receiving votes in the latest NSCAA poll, freshmen Luka Prpa and Connor Alba combined for three goals and an assist, while fellow freshman Patrick Seagrist notched his second assist of the season in the 4-1 victory at Valley Fields.

Back on Aug. 29, Marquette claimed a 4-0 win over NIU and three MU freshmen accounted for all four goals and 10 of the 11 points collected – the most points accounted for by a group of MU freshmen in a single game since Louis Bennett took over as head coach in 2006.

Jan Maertins and Connor Alba scored their first career tallies in the win, while Prpa registered two goals and two assists. Prpa’s six-point effort was the most by a freshman in a single match since C. Nortey tallied six points with a hat trick in a win over Seton Hall back on Oct. 22, 2011. He would add another two-goal, two-assist performance in a 4-1 win over UIC (Sept. 2) the following match and was awarded appropriately with NSCAA and College Soccer News National Player of the Week honors.

Head coach Louis Bennett has injected some international flavor to the 2016 roster as four Europeans are featured among the list of 13 newcomers. Zacharias Andreou (Cyprus), Jan Maertins (Germany), Diego Núñez (Spain), Anton von Hofacker (Norway) are not only succeeding on the pitch, but acclimating very quickly to a new team and culture.

Bennett, as well as first-year assistant coach Sean Hughes, both hail from England, while fourth-year assistant coach Marcelo Santos is a native of Brazil.

The 2016 Marquette squad is one of the youngest teams in BIG EAST Conference as it features the second-youngest overall roster with 12 freshmen and 10 sophomores, ranking right behind St. John’s with 16 freshmen and 10 sophomores. Marquette’s five upper classmen (2 seniors, 3 juniors) is the fewest of any BIG EAST program by far. St. John’s features the second-fewest with eight.

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.




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