LAKEVILLE — Despite Marquette’s gaudy record, shooting accuracy has been a bugaboo for the Class A No. 6 Blazers boys soccer team.
Coach A.J. Monroe’s solution? Attack, attack, attack.
“We see it every day in our training sessions,” Monroe said. “We’re inconsistent finishing. We spend a tremendous amount of time on it. We’re working hard at it and we’ve made progress, but that’s why we try to create as many chances as we can.”
Scoring opportunities were plentiful for Marquette (13-2-2) in Tuesday’s Class A LaVille Sectional opener with Washington Township at Newton Park and while the Blazers just as well could have reached double digits, they still cruised to a 6-0 victory to advance to today’s semifinals.
“The more opportunities we get, the more chances we’re going to have and the more putaways we’re going to get against the bigger teams,” Patrick Connelly said. “We have so many ways we can attack, it creates problems for a team. They can’t guard just one style. It keeps the defense on its heels.”
The Blazers showed that dimension as five players — Hugo Lopez (two), Connelly, Gavin O’Halloran, Sidney Mahome and David Schreur — found the net.
“This is the most balanced team we’ve ever had in our four years,” senior Jon Beglin said. “The more options we have on the field, the more people we can find and the better we’re going to be. We played pretty well as a team. We were really loose. We were talking a lot. Our center back (Ian Baker) is a big leader. He’s able to control the team and is always keeping us together.”
Marquette dominated play virtually from the opening whistle and led 4-0 at the half, though it could have easily been twice that.
Lopez struck first at 5:46, chipping home a cross from Beglin. Lopez was fouled in the box at 13:12, setting up Connelly’s penalty kick score. O’Halloran made it 3-0 on a breakaway with 6:08 left in the half and the speedy Mahome got on the board after several good chances on a runout at 36:16.
“They came out in a high defensive line, more of an offsides-trap situation,” Monroe said. “It was something they were trying to do to get us off balance. We had to make a mental adjustment to attack the high line, get it wide, then get it back in. When we put Sidney in, we got a lot of opportunities because he was leaving the line, then running back at it.”
Lopez drilled home a Schreur corner and Schreur connected off an O’Halloran feed to cap the Marquette scoring at 53:05. Washington’s best scoring threat in its limited chances on Liam Monroe came with about a minute to go when it hit the post amid a goal mouth scramble. Washington’s Charlie Schmidgall made 17 saves.
“We didn’t get lackadasical, just possessing the ball,” Monroe said. “You want possession with a purpose, creating as many chances as possible. We were on our front foot, which is what we wanted. You’ve got to keep going, continue to try to take the match to them.”
The Blazers (13-2-2) return today to face Bremen (11-4-2), which bounced Westville 12-2, scoring nine second-half goals.
“Overall, our biggest problem was not winning the 50-50 balls,” Blackhawks coach James Martin said. “We were in it for a while and it looked like we might be able to hang with them, but we got a little demoralized. Bremen’s really good. It was inexperience and a lack of conditioning.”
The Lions jumped in front just 4:14 in before Gavin Henderson’s long-range shot pulled the Blackhawks (1-11-1) even at 8:07. The tie lasted all of 44 seconds as Bremen jumped back in front to stay. It broke the match open with two goals in the first four minutes of the second half. Elliot Bogart picked up Westville’s second goal in the 60th minute off a Henderson corner kick.
“On the plus side, a lot of the younger guys got to play up in a huge game,” said Martin, who took over two weeks before the season started. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t send the seniors out on a high note, but it was a step in the right direction.”