The Valparaiso University men’s soccer team incurred its first setback of the season on Sunday afternoon in Milwaukee as the Crusaders fell 3-1 to Marquette. Danny Moreno (Pasto, Columbia / Desert Mountain [Grand Canyon]) became the second Crusader in as many matches to score his first goal in a Valpo uniform by providing his team’s tally.
How It Happened
- Marquette had an early chance in the third minute, but Nacho Miras (Ubeda, Spain / Nuestra Semora del Pilar) made a diving save to keep the fixture scoreless.
- The Golden Eagles struck first when Connor Alba’s header deflected into the net after a nifty cross by Luka Prpa, who led last year’s Marquette team with five assists. The goal came in the fifth minute and was the first allowed by the Crusaders this season.
- Prpa had an opportunity to double the lead in the seventh minute, but Miras laid out for a quality deflection to notch the save.
- Valpo had an opportunity in the 28th minute when a free kick led to a header shot by Matthew King (Edmonton, Alberta / Louis St. Laurent [Grand Canyon]) that rattled off the post. That started a string of Valpo chances as Rafael Mentzingen (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil / Bryan) and Michael Marchionna (Naperville, Ill. / Naperville Central) each got off shots that were wide of the net.
- Marquette doubled the lead in the 53rd minute as Lukas Sunesson finished lower left to pick up a rebound goal after his initial shot on a breakaway was knocked free.
- The Crusaders controlled more possession late in the match, and their efforts paid off as Moreno scored on a rebound that he fired off with the right foot and finished inside the right post. Jonas Engler (Illingen, Germany / Georg Kerschensteiner Scule) and Marchionna were credited with assists on the goal.
- Bradford had a chance to equalize in the 78th minute, but a strong shot was turned away on a diving save by Marquette goalkeeper Luis Barraza, who sprawled toward the far left post.
- Sunesson made it a brace in his collegiate debut with a breakaway in the 85th minute that expanded Marquette’s lead to 3-1, which stood as the final score.
Inside the Match
- Moreno’s goal was assisted by Engler and Marchionna, both of whom notched their first assists of the season.
- Marchionna already has three points on the young year after totaling one over his first two collegiate seasons, while Engler gained his fourth career assist and 10th career point in the second match of his sophomore season.
- The Crusaders outshot the opposition for the second straight match, this time 18-13 over the Golden Eagles (0-1). However, Marquette placed six shots on goal against Valpo’s four. Each goalkeeper – Valpo’s Miras and Marquette’s Luis Barraza, accrued two saves.
Thoughts from Head Coach Mike Avery
“We knew coming in that this was a challenging game for many reasons. First and foremost, Marquette is a very good team with talented players and Coach Bennett and his staff do a good job. Playing on the road against teams like this in their season opening game is tough. It was also a very hot and humid day. We played overtime less than 48 hours ago and they didn’t have a Friday game, so it was as much a test of fitness and mental toughness as it was a soccer game for us.”
“While we didn’t get the result we wanted, there were a lot of real positive things for us to take away from the game. We showed a lot of fight and resolve and as we started to figure out the game we really pushed them for a long stretch. We had several chances to tie it up at 2-2, including a chance that was cleared off the line, and it really felt inevitable that we’d score. The third goal broke that spell, obviously, and while we might have had an argument for an offside call, the bottom line is that our players can’t stop and rely on a call to be made. It’s a mental mistake that was costly.”
“The early part of the season is about growing up and growing together and you need tough games and tough conditions to really test you, so if it’s possible that a loss can be a good thing, I think this one will help us.”
The Crusaders (1-1) will continue a stretch of four straight games in the state of Wisconsin as they participate in the University of Wisconsin Tournament next weekend. First up is a neutral site affair with Northwestern on Saturday at 5 p.m. in Madison.