Marquette men's soccer team nationally ranked headed into Big East tourney

MILWAUKEE -- The Marquette University men's soccer team suffered its first loss of the year about a week-and-a-half ago, but before that, they had 12 straight wins. Not bad for a program that had just one victory all season a few short years ago.

Louis Bennett, the head coach of the MU men's soccer team heard the critics, the outrage and the frustration -- he just didn't pay any attention to any of it.

"That's not really my concern. My concern was doing my very best. If people didn't know, or they passed judgment when they didn't know, that's up to them. They have to live with that, not me," Bennett said.

The Englishman raised eyebrows seven years ago when he made the jump from Milwaukee to Marquette. Just six wins in his first three seasons had some calling for his head.

"It tested his patience at times -- for sure. Specifically in the first three years," MU men's soccer assistant coach Steve Bode said.

At one point Bennett was even accused of ruining two programs, which bothered his family members, but never shook his confidence.

"The important people at the university have always been supportive. I've been utterly mpressed with the patience that they have had, and the vision that they saw and believed in," Bennett said.

"It took time to build the culture he was looking to build here," Bode said.

After just one win in his first season, Bennett is now leading a nationally ranked squad. He did it by staying true to his philosophy, which includes the very simple mantra: control what you can control.

"We have to count on ourselves -- so let's just concentrate on a day in and day out basis on working towards our individual goals, our unit goals and our team goals and they really took it to heart," Bennett said.

The team was certainly improving after winning the Big East Blue Division in 2011, but 2011 brought its own set of questions, and after losing their top two scorers, the main question was who was going to put the ball in the net?

"When we looked, we thought we might be a little light on goal scoring unless we did it by committee," Bennett said.

"We've pretty much challenged all these guys -- the four guys who play that position and every single one of them has risen to that challenge," Bode said.

With just a handful of Big East games remaining before the conference tournament, the Golden Eagles will continue to get a lot of national attention down the stretch.

While he's sure the old critics have noticed, Bennett's not interested in flaunting the team's success in their faces. He does admit, however, that winning -- the way he always knew the program could, is incredibly satisfying.

"Of course I'm enjoying it, but I don't sit back and put my feet up and say 'wow, look at this.' At the end of the year I'm going to look back and say 'thank you' to the people who really put things together for us and I'll say 'that was the time of my life,'" Bennett said.

The Big East Tournament starts on Halloween. The Golden Eagles expect to have one of the top seeds.