There's a saying in the boxing & mixed martial arts world: Styles make fights. In short, sometimes the style of the fighters involved can affect how exciting the fight is more than the skill level of the fighters. When you look at the match up of Marquette and High Point, the only two men's lacrosse programs in their first year in Division 1, it might have been hard to predict a winner. College Crosse broke down their advanced stats and they came out pretty evenly. They had a few opponents in common, and in the two cases where they had both lost, High Point stayed closer to the opponent than Marquette did. In the game where the result was different, High Point lost by 10, whereas Marquette beat Air Force by two.
So when the game started off scoreless for the first nine minutes, I wasn't terribly surprised. When Conor Gately opened the scoring by putting MU up 1-0 on a shorthanded goal, I was pleased. The first quarter ended 2-1 in favor of the Golden Eagles because when given three chances to score with a man advantage, High Point finally figured it out. MU built the lead to 5-3 at halftime, and things seemed to be trending in a quality direction. High Point got the first goal of the second half to make things interesting.
That's when The Gately & Melnyk Show started. Gately posted a hat trick in the third quarter and Tyler Melnyk scored twice in the fourth and assisted on a Kyle Whitlow goal in the third quarter as MU went on a 9-1 tear, taking the lead from 5-4 to 14-5 with just 7 minutes left in the game. Marquette ended up with a dominating 14-6 win, and that took me by surprise. It was easy to say "Marquette can win this game," and you could probably make an argument for "Marquette should win this game." But "Marquette will win this game fairly easily?" Did not see that one coming.
MU's defense had a strong presence in the game, which is generally unsurprising when you go on the kind of scoring binge that the Golden Eagles did in the second half. Pole defender Liam Byrnes used his extra reach to get to a game high eight ground balls and goalie JJ Sagl had a career high 16 saves.
Up Next: FINALLY, Marquette gets to play a home game. After nine straight road games to open the season, Marquette plays their first ever home men's lacrosse game this coming Saturday. Detroit (2-8) provides the opposition, and the game starts at 7pm out at Hart Park in Wauwatosa. There's going to be free BBQ for students starting at 5:30, and don't worry about getting out there on your own: Just like for basketball, there will be a shuttle leaving from the Sports Annex!