Marquettes Trenton Dietiker crosses the ball into the center of the 18-yard in the first half against the Triad Trojans on Tuesday afternoon at Gordon Moore Park.

Marquette goalkeeper Nick Hemann leaps in the air to grab the ball in a crowd of Explorers and Trojans.

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ALTON - Big expectations are in store for Marquette Catholic.

They ought to be since they’re the reigning IHSA Class 1A state champions and return a healthy dose of starters. Their reward is a bump up to Class 2A.

The Explorers kicked off their 2018 seasons with a 1-1 draw against the Triad Trojans at Gordon Moore Park on Tuesday night. Triad, who could also be a potential playoff opponent for Marquette, move to 0-0-2 after tying Belleville East 1-1 as well on Monday.

“There was lots for us to learn that popped up today. We have to adapt, and we’ll get better.” Marquette head coach Joe Burchett said. “It’s good to play Triad because they were different in what we had sort of seen. They had some pieces that were challenging for us, so that was good.”

“The boys are strong enough. They just have to put it together.”

The Trojans had the majority of possession from start to finish, but it was the Explorers who found the back of the net first.

Stephen Hasse started a counter-attack by playing a through-ball to Aaron Boulch who got in-behind the Triad back four down the left wing. He made a cross to a wide-open Chris Hartrich in the middle of the 18-yard box who calmly slotted the ball past keeper Brayden Tonn off the far post and into the goal with 16:41 left in the first half.

Boulch and Hartrich were a highly powerful attacking combination for Marquette last season, and Hasse will be a pivotal addition to the midfield. He formerly was a member of the Saint Louis FC Academy.

“Stephen adds a lot to our team, obviously. He has played at such a high level, his skills are very strong, and he is going to be a force in the midfield,” Burchett said. “He’s very creative and fast. He’s like Chris [Hartrich] in the fact that he’s quick and changes direction, and definitely keeps the ball close, and his technical skills are fantastic.”

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Marquette’s defense would be heavily called upon in the second half, especially goalkeeper Nick Hemann.

“[The back line] were really busy. We have to be able to play out of our backline a bit more,” Hemann said. “We were a little bit shaky.”

Triad earned many half-chances, but only tested Hemann twice. The first was an excellent close-range save where the 6-foot-6 keeper leaped to his left and snagged a shot out of the air. The second go-around wasn’t as successful.

Playing with a high line, Triad exposed Marquette with Tucker Kendrick collecting a pass in-behind and was in on goal. After making a move past the defender, Kendrick was 1-on-1 with Hemann, and his shot was deflected by Hemann’s right leg but didn’t get enough on it to parring it away, and the ball rolled across the goal line to level the score for the Trojans with 18:13 left to play.

“It’s frustrating especially this time early because we want to be mid-season ready,” Hemann said. It’s our first game, we know mistakes will be made, and we have to prepare the best we can for later in the season.”

The Explorers had two great chances to go in front late in the game.

In the 64th minute, on a counter-attack, Boulch received a pass, dribbled into the box his shot hit the crossbar and out of play. Later on with under three minutes left, Noah McClintock did brilliantly in holding up possession and then whip a cross in for Hartrich who got a head onto the ball, which sailed just wide of the near post.

Marquette's Stephen Hasse tries to out-pace Triad's Austin Borri to the ball.

Marquette's Brett Terry and Highland's Jonah Ogden battle for possession.

Aaron Boulch (8) and Chris Hartrich celebrate after combing to score for the Explorers.

Defender Nathan Joehi dribbles the ball.

Marquette co-captain and defender Kwame Ngwa.

Aaron Boulch and Austin Borri race to collect the ball that ultimately Boulch assisted to Hartrich for Marquette's goal.

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