My intention for these men's lacrosse recaps was to write about what happened in the game, and then stop down and focus on the two skills related statistics that we touched on in the Three Questions piece.
Unfortunately for the first game of the season, one of those stats is a major part of the story.
Marquette didn't win a face off until the first one of the second half, and by that point, the score was 7-3. What happened when MU won that first face off of the second half? Conor Gately scored his first goal of the season, and MU trailed by only three. The Mountain Hawks asserted their dominance from that point, winning five of the remaining nine face offs. That led to Lehigh scoring the next six goals and holding MU scoreless for 22 and a half minutes, and that was that. It's hard to maintain any kind of offensive pressure when you're not winning face offs, and it means you're spending an awful lot of energy on the defensive end when you're forced to start defending immediately after allowing a goal.
Things seemed to start out on a high note for the Golden Eagles, as they scored on their first two offensive possessions of the game. Both goals came from senior Tyler Melnyk, and it was a welcome sight to see him plow forward right where he left off last year. Even though Lehigh would end the first quarter with a one goal lead, there was a promising note for Marquette. The Mountain Hawks had called time out to set something up for the final minute of the period, but MU forced a turnover with 11 seconds remaining. BJ Grill picked up the ground ball and Gately ended up with the ball, rifling a shot in on LU goalie Matt Poillon as the horn sounded.
Melnyk would lead the team in goals with his pair, and Gately added two assists to his goal for the team high in points with three. Lehigh was led by four goals from Patrick Corbett, and Dan Taylor matched Corbett in points with a pair each of goals and assists. Poillon made nine saves in 57+ minutes for the win, while MU's JJ Sagl made four saves and took the loss.
STAT WATCH: Other than face offs, Marquette most needed to improve in reducing unforced turnovers per 100 offensive opportunities. MU had 13 turnovers in the game, with six being of the unforced variety. With 24 possessions in the game (4 face offs won + 17 clear attempts + 3 failed Lehigh clears), that puts MU at at a rate of 25 per 100 opportunities for the game. They finished last year at 27.5 per 100 chances, so this is a welcome improvement, especially against a high quality team like Lehigh.
Up Next: Marquette will travel to face Hofstra next week Saturday. It'll be the season opener for head coach Joe Amplo's alma mater, and the Pride were picked to finish fifth out of six teams in the Colonial Athletic Association preseason poll.