Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Our Friends at the Tribune on Men's Soccer:

Late foul costs MU against St. John's

Men's soccer spoils return of Scott Miller
By Nick Bullock

The old adage goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Well, the Marquette men's soccer team wasn't exactly broken, but with a 1-1-2 record going in to Friday's match against Syracuse, it wasn't exactly running like a well-oiled machine either.

"We didn't play well on Friday," coach Louis Bennett said. "It was a game that we let slip away."

As was Saturday's match against St. John's that ended in a 1-0 Marquette loss in overtime.

Bennett said that before the weekend came he knew that it was time for a little change of scenery. The problem was that his team was lacking in depth as a result of a few key injuries.

Much had been made of senior midfielder Dan Addis' season-ending injury, but the knee injury that kept sophomore defender Scott Miller out of action for the first four matches of the season had just as dire of consequences.

"I don't want to blame injuries or anything, but we haven't had a full squad to pick from until today," Bennett said.

With the addition of Miller, Bennett was able to get more creative against the powerhouse that is St. John's. He opened with five defenders &mdadsh; Miller, juniors Tim Jallow and Billy Von Rueden, and freshmen Paul Monsen and Michael Alfano — looking to neutralize the St. John's attack.

Suffice it to say the strategy would have worked if not for an untimely foul that allowed St. John's the winning penalty kick.

But despite the loss Bennett insists he is happy with what he saw out of his team on Sunday, especially Miller.

"Calmness, leadership, great in the air, good with his feet," Bennett said when asked what Miller brings to the team. "I thought he was the best player on the field today to be honest with you."

Another thing Miller brought is a camaraderie that Marquette has been lacking at times this season.

In the 41st minute, Von Rueden and St. John's defender Joel Gustafsson both received yellow cards. The reason for Von Rueden's?

"I was just protecting Scott," Von Rueden said referring to when Gustafsson knocked Miller on the ground. "That's what it came down to. The ref didn't like it, didn't see it that way, but I was just protecting Scott."

According to assistant coach Stan Anderson, Miller is not yet back to 100 percent as far as health or fitness goes. But judging by the fact that Miller played significant minutes in each of the weekend games, the coaches must think that a less than 100 percent Miller is still good enough to help the team.

Against Syracuse Miller saw about 60 minutes and Anderson was quick to point out that when he took the bench Syracuse scored its only goal.

"He worked his backside off to get back," Anderson said. "Is he healthy? I don't know if at the top level of sports, once you are in season, if you are ever 100 percent."

Completely healthy or not, both Anderson and Bennett say that the return of Miller is going to be integral for the Golden Eagles as they move deeper into the Big East season.

"We've got now a couple of guys that are beginning to be able to stand on their own two feet in the Big East and be able to say, 'Alright guys, you can stand there … but I'll lead, you follow,'" Bennett said. "That's what we need. I can tell them to do this and do that, but what's important is them doing it and then believing it."

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