It takes a lot on campus to get people talking about Marquette men's soccer these days.
To be fair, there hasn't been a whole lot to talk about the last few years. To an observant fan, however, last year's team frequently looked like a squad just ready to turn the corner, but was missing a few vital cogs with which to do so.
One of those cogs is the player I am most excited to see this season for MU – Dan Addis.
It could just be wishful thinking, but I believe the key to the Golden Eagle's success this season lies in having their fifth-year senior captain on the field, healthy, and making positive contributions.
Marquette has been a woefully young squad over the past few seasons, and there has been a decent amount of turnover on the roster, with players leaving the squad for various reasons. The inexperience and lack of understanding between players has belied itself in Marquette's inability to put the ball in the back of the net. MU averaged a paltry 0.71 goals per game last season, so both a player who can finish around the net and one who can provide good service from the midfield to strikers up front is necessary.
Addis can do both.
Over his Marquette career, Addis has found the back of the net five times –offense the Golden Eagles could have used at key times in heartbreaking loses and double-overtime draws last year. (The 1-0 double-overtime loss to then-No.5-ranked St. John's specifically comes to mind.)
Addis will also provide both service and a holding presence in the midfield. A sizeable midfielder (listed at 5'11", 165 lbs), he can keep possession under duress against Big East opponents. The Golden Eagles lost possession or made half-hearted attempts at connections up front from the midfield too often last year, so look for Addis to orchestrate change in the midfield this season.
Beyond statistics, though, Addis provides the intangible leadership necessary to a team that is trying to assert itself in the behemoth of a conference that is the Big East. This team is another year older this season, but experience and age do not always translate into leadership. Team members often mention how strong of a presence Addis is for the squad. He is a steadying force and the unquestioned captain of a team that will rely heavily on the play of the sophomore class.
All of this is, of course, contingent on Addis's health. Although he played during the preseason and in the season opener against Wisconsin-Milwaukee, his conditioning seems to be a bit behind. That's to be expected given his recovery, and the hope is that he can work himself back into game shape to be on the field for longer stretches of time, but in the short-term he may be most effective as a late game closer of sorts for Louis Bennett's squad.
The most important thing for MU is that Addis is on the field, period. Because with him on the pitch, Marquette stands its best chance in years to finally turn the corner and produce wins in the Big East.
Which player performance are you most hotly anticipating? Join the discussion on our message board.
Robert E. Shimp is a sophomore broadcasting major and the current Sports Director of Marquette University Radio (WMUR). He is a frequent contributor to MarquetteHoops.com.