It’s been one year. Exactly one year to the day since Calum Mallace drilled a goal in the net, sending Marquette to a victory in the Milwaukee Cup, their second straight in the series and ninth overall.
But a lot of things change in a year. The team is littered with new faces,all brought on by another new face: head coach Chris Whalley.
Following the firing of former coach Jon Coleman after four disappointing seasons, then-athletic director George Koonce made what will prove to be his biggest move by hiring Whalley to take over the program. Whalley came from D-II Lees-McRae College in tiny Banner Elk, North Carolina, where his team was consistently among the best in the nation despite coming from a town of about 1,000.
Upon his hiring, Whalley came to Milwaukee dead set on changing the culture. Panther fans might not have to wait for his second game to see an end to the losing ways of the past. Mixing his own recruited players into the roster, Whalley has created a team that looks like it can challenge immediately.
The new blood has already shown it can play in the preseason. Freshman Jordan Record pulled a hat trick last week against Whitewater, and he’s just one of 16 new faces.
One face that is not new is sophomore keeper John Shakon, who will be starting in goal tonight after sharing the net with newcomer Bryce Boyd, a transfer from Mequon who first attended San Francisco.
To say this is a big game for Milwaukee Soccer, Chris Whalley and the UWM campus would be an understatement. This is our sport, where we have more NCAA Tournaments than Marquette, Wisconsin and Green Bay combined. The last four years have been difficult to watch for Panther die-hards. When Coleman came into the head coaching position, the program had four losing seasons in its entire history. He was fired after doubling that number. But it wasn’t just losing; it was the losing culture that came with it, and Whalley in a few short months has changed the feeling around the program. Tonight comes its biggest test thus far.
Junior Ross Van Osdol spent two years as a part of Coleman’s losing program. “I havent cared about a match this much since my last high school game.”
If the game were not big enough, it will be televised live on Time Warner Sport 32.
Google Maps has directions to the game here.