Marquette - Four And A Half Star Recruiting Class - The Golden Eagles took another huge step forward last year when they earned the programs second invite the NCAA Tournament and returned to the tournament field for the first time since the 1997 season. This is a program that has rediscovered how to win under the direction of head coach Louis Bennett who will enter his ninth season at Marquette in 2013 seeking to build on the 16-4-1 overall record in 2012 that included signature wins over Michigan, Michigan State, Connecticut, and Louisville. Now the Golden Eagles must keep the momentum going.
Marquette will enter the 2013 season without forwards Andy Huftalin (10g, 4a) and Anthony Selvaggi (2g, 2a) and midfielder Ryan Robb (1g, 1a) who have graduated but they have added an extremely talented recruiting class to a very solid core of returning players from a young team that gained valuable experience last year.
Chances are pretty good that Marquette will be a stronger and deeper team in 2013 than they were in 2012. How that translates in terms of wins and losses remains to be seen but with such a talented group of returning players supplemented by what is arguably the best recruiting class in the history of the program the prognosis for continued success in 2013 looks really good.
An unexpected 1-0 loss to Northwestern in the NCAA Tourney last year, which was Marquette's only home loss of the 2012 season, likely leaves the Golden Eagles feeling like they have something to prove or at least have some unfinished business to take care of. When a team is talented, hungry, and well coached the product is almost always a group that gets results.
Last year Marquette put the ball in the back of the net forty-two times. The Golden Eagles will miss the punch and big play ability that All-Big East Second Team forward Huftalin provided but a full bank of players return who are extremely capable goal scorers. On the defensive side of the ball Marquette held a very competitive slate of opponents to a total of only seventeen goals. The backline returns intact including three sophomores who now have the extra added benefit of having a year of starting experience under their belts.
Marquette's recruiting class features incoming freshmen midfielders Jose Coco Navarro and Louis Bennett II who are ranked by College Soccer News as among the top 150 recruits in the class of 2013. The highly touted class also includes 2012 NSCAA High School All-Americans midfielder Daniel Szczepanwk, defender Jake Taylor, and goalkeeper Kyle Gress. Junior transfer midfielder Brady Wahl who has been a starter at Ohio State for the past two seasons should contribute immediately.
Redshirt forward C. Nortey who led the Golden Eagles in scoring in 2011 with nine goals and two assists returns in 2013 after missing the 2012 season due to injury. His return is a big boost to the Marquette attack. Redshirt senior Adam Lysak (5g, 4a) and junior Kelmend Islami (2g, 3a) are among other returning forwards who Bennett will likely count on for offensive productivity in 2013. Nortey, Lysak, and Islam are all playmakers who can cause opposing defenders problems when they have the ball at their feet in the attacking third.
Senior Bryan Ciesiulka (5g, 9a), a 2012 All-Big East Second Team selection, will power the attack in the midfield. Ciesiulka has been an impact player since arriving on campus. He is the team quarterback and will be at the heart of the Marquette offense in 2013. While Ciesiulka is the heart of the team, senior defensive midfielder Eric Pothast (4g, 2a) is the soul of the team. Pothast, a team stalwart, adds value on both sides of the ball. Look for Ciesiulka and Pothast to set the pace in 2013. Left footer junior Sebastian Jansson (3g, 3a) also adds another element to the attack out wide or up-top. Redshirt junior Charlie Hoover, redshirt sophomore D.J. Schillinger and sophomore Alexander Behm are among other returning midfielders who will seek to play a greater role in 2013.
The backline looks to be a team strength. Senior Paul Dillon (0g, 9a) returns at left back. Redshirt central defender sophomore Axel Sjoberg, a 2012 All Big East Second Team selection, and sophomore central defender John Pothast who had an impressive freshman season will anchor the backline. Sophomore Adam Hermsen who also had a solid freshman season last year returns at right back. Redshirt junior John Mau who appeared in nine contests last year is among other returning backs who will be in the mix in 2013.
Redshirt junior Charlie Lyon from St. Charles, Illinois returns in goal after a brilliant 2012 season in which he had a 0.78 goals against average and recorded ten clean sheets while displaying a ton of leadership between the pipes.
Marquette has steadily improved over the past few seasons and they clearly arrived last year potentially signaling the beginning of a new era. How the returning players mature and how effectively Bennett integrates his newcomers in with the returning players will go a long way in determining Marquette's fate in 2013.
Expectations are justifiably high heading into the 2013 campaign. The next logical step is a good run in the NCAA Tourney. That could come in 2013.
Jose Coco Navarro - Midfielder -Inglewood, California - Played for Real Salt Lake Arizona Academy. Rated by College Soccer News as the number sixty player in the class of 2013.
Louis Bennett II - Midfielder -Shorewood, Wisconsin -Shorewood High School - Played for Chicago Fire Academy. Rated by College Soccer News as the number 139 player in the class of 2013.
Brady Wahl - Midfielder -Geneva, Illinois - Geneva High School - Junior transfer from Ohio State. Started 33 of 36 contests while at Ohio State. Named to the 2011 Big Ten All-Freshman Team.
David Selvaggi -Forward -Elmhurst, Illinois -York High School - Junior transfer from DePaul University. Will redshirt the 2013 season. Named to the All-Big East Rookie Team in 2011.
Jake Taylor - Defender - Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin - Whitefish Bay High School - Wisconsin Soccer Coaches Association Player of the Year. NSCAA High School All-American. Bavarian Soccer Club.
Daniel Szczepanek -Midfielder -Grayslake, Illinois - Warren Township High School - Named Illinois Player of the Year. NSCAA High School All-American. All-State. ODP Midwest Regional Team captain.
Kyle Gress -Goalkeeper -Overland Park, Kansas - Saint Thomas Aquinas High School -NSCAA High School All-American. Captain ODP Midwest Regional ODP. Eastern Kansas League Goalkeeper of the Year.
Nick Parianos - Forward -Akron, Ohio - Walsh Jesuit - Played for Columbus Crew Soccer Academy. All-Ohio selection. Also played for Internationals.
Jack Alberts -Defender/Midfielder -HInsdale, Illinois - Fenwick High School - First Team All-State. Chicago Catholic League MVP 2012. Leading scorer at Fenwick.
Driton Zyteja - Midfielder - Sun Prairie, Wisconsin - Sun Prairie High School - Four-year starter in high school. Captain of Wisconsin ODP. Played for Madison FC. Played for FC Milwaukee.
Ale McBride - Midfielder - Milwaukee, Wisconsin - Marquette University High School - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Area Player of the Year. Netted nineteen goals and contributed fifteen assists in 2012.