Milwaukee takes the Cup!

The boys brought it home.

It’s been a fair amount of time since I’ve been this jazzed about men’s soccer at UWM.  Twelve days short of four years to the day of the biggest game in Milwaukee Cup history; you know the story.  Things change, however, and those days of celebration have been far too distant in the past for far too long.

Not anymore.

Maybe it was the resoundingly louder section of Panthers in the stands.  Maybe it was Ross Van Osdol’s goal, forty yards away and completely surprising.  Maybe it was seeing freshman Edison Crespo get away for the third goal of the match, the icing on the cake that looked like offsides (after further review on T.V., he’s just much faster than the competition).

Whatever it was, as a Panther Soccer fan, it makes me smile.

I can’t tell you what was sweeter, the looks on Marquette fans’ faces when they realize they’re back in their rightful place as the losers of the Milwaukee Cup, or chanting “Milwaukee” at the end of the game.  Because this really is Milwaukee’s team, from Milwaukee’s school.

Calum Mallace, for all his talent and skill, didn’t find the net.  Part of that is due to a couple errant shots, but mostly it was due to the superb marksmanship of Ross Van Osdol.  He’s also due praise for the victory; not only was Marquette oh-so-close to scoring a goal in the 75th minute, but the drilling he put on that ball from 40 was something we haven’t seen on campus in a long time.

For the first time in a long time, there’s reason for true optimism on the UWM campus in regards to men’s soccer.  That’s a great thing to have, considering the lack of football on campus and the ongoing renovations at Engelmann Field.  It’s really too bad that this game didn’t happen on campus; the night before school starts, I’m positive we would have had a shot at breaking the record of 3,256 set on that warm September night in 2006.  With any luck, the next two seasons at Engelmann Field will bring the opportunity to do just that.

Of course, just talking to Whalley makes me think that we might break that 3,256 by the time Marquette steps onto our pitch.  He is an exciting and talented coach, ambitious in every way a college soccer coach should be.  He wants to win as many games as possible, compete for national championships (you heard me), but he also wants to make sure as many people support the program as possible.  The past few months, every encounter I’ve had with the guy left me excited from the talk of making this place a real soccer school with a real hardcore following. But that’s all it’s been so far, talk.  Tonight, he and the Panthers took step one towards making that dream of a soccer-crazy school a reality.

They didn’t just beat Marquette, they pummeled ’em.  And that’s what we can expect from our Panthers from here on out.  Maybe we won’t win every game, but the Panthers will always make us proud.  That pride can change a university; that’s why this game was so important.

And that’s why it’s a beautiful, beautiful day to be a Milwaukee Panther.

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