Men's Lacrosse: Marquette 11, Georgetown 10

Ryan McNamara only found the back of the net on 1 of his 5 shots on Saturday, but that 1 was the OT game winner for MU. - Maggie Bean/MarquetteImages.com

Ok, NOW the Golden Eagles are officially in the Big East tournament.

We have to start in the interests of full disclosure here.  After Georgetown went into halftime with a 7-3 lead on the Golden Eagles, it was clear that something was going to have to change and change quickly for Marquette to get back into this game.  While the first six minutes of the second half were quiet from a scoring perspective which kind of benefited Marquette, that didn't last.

Corey Parke scored his first of the season and Bo Stafford got his second of the game to make it 9-3.  With St. John's already picking up a win against Villanova and Denver looming next weekend, Marquette's chances of locking up a Big East tournament spot started to seem a little dire.

Jimmy Danaher came up with a save on the possession started by that Hoyas face off win, and Marquette went on the attack.  Conor Gately broke a scoreless drought of over 15 minutes for Marquette with 4:50 left in the period, and Bryan Badolato made it 9-5 with 3:23 left, drawing a slashing penalty in the process.  Kyle Whitlow beat Jake Haley to make Marquette two for three on extra man chances in the game, and suddenly it was 9-6 and leaning very heavily in Marquette's favor.  Yet, Georgetown had to feel a little bit of comfort as the third quarter ended and they had only lost one goal off their halftime advantage.

Tyler Knarr, the second best face off man in the Big East, won the opening face off of the fourth quarter, but was promptly checked out of his stick, and Marquette came away with the ground ball.  68 seconds into the fourth quarter, Tyler Melnyk came flying in from the right side, changed his stick from his right side to his left, and scored his second goal of the game and 34th of the season.  Marquette was on a four goal run and the score was 9-7.

Bo Stafford got one back for the Hoyas, but things went wild on the other end.  I still don't know what happened, but Georgetown goalie Jake Haley lost control of his crease, ending up in the net.  I don't know if the ball followed him in or if he followed the ball in, but it was a goal for Badolato none the less.

10-8 on the scoreboard, 11:44 to play.  That means it's Melnyk Time.

The senior from Canada scored twice in three minutes, once with a helper from Gately, and that meant we had a game tied at 10 with just over four minutes left.

Georgetown had a chance to win late when they got a timeout with 2:30 left, but Logan Tousaw forced a turnover over in the right corner and Liam Byrnes came up with the ground ball and the clearance for Marquette.  The Golden Eagles couldn't get a shot off and ended up coughing it up with 33 seconds left.  Charlie McCormick had a chance at a game winner with 10 seconds left, but his shot was blocked and that meant overtime for the second time in Big East play for Marquette.

Officially, Marquette won the opening face off of overtime, but that's because Tyler Gilligan poked it away from Knarr from behind and into Marquette's offensive zone.  Ryan McNamara proved fearless in the extra session.  The freshman from Minnesota hadn't connected on any of his three shots in regulation, but that didn't stop him from letting fly with the game on the line.  He missed wide with his first, but McNamara got the ball behind the cage after the restart.  Inspired by the curling and diving effort from Badolato on MU's third goal, McNamara recreated that shot coming around Haley's left side.  McNamara went low with his diving shot and it flew past Haley's feet and into the net for the winner.

The win puts Marquette into the Big East tournament in the Golden Eagles' first season as a member of the Big East.  Courtesy of Villanova's loss to St. John's, MU finds themselves alone in second place in the standings with only one game left: at 6-0 Denver.

I want to make sure everyone understands this: Marquette can win a share of the Big East regular season title and the #1 seed in the Big East tournament by playing a perfect 60 minutes of lacrosse against #3 in the country Denver on Saturday.  Think about that.  This is a second year program.

Marquette has maybe the four craziest wins in the league this season.  Overtime victories against St. John's and Georgetown, a last second goal in a 12 goal fourth quarter against Rutgers, and a one goal edging of Providence where Marquette didn't score in either the second or fourth quarters.  Hell, they were in the game late against Villanova, and were it not for a sloppy turnover with just seconds left, they might have pulled off a win there as well.  And yet, even given that slip up, Marquette still has a regular season title within grasp.

STAT WATCH: Ok, no one's going to confuse Marquette's 9 for 25 effort (36%, 42.9% a year ago) at the face off X as a good day.  I'm not entirely sure why Cullen Cassidy was allowed to keep taking face offs while he went 5-15, but he did.  I'm even less sure why Tyler Gilligan got the nod when head coach Joe Amplo went in a different direction.  After performing admirably while Cassidy was injured, Paul Riportella didn't get on the field at all in this game, even though he was dressed and ready to play.  Gilligan officially went 4-10 on draws, but on several of those, it seemed that the plan was to let Tyler Knarr win the face off and check it out of his stick from behind.  It worked repeatedly in the second half, and it allowed Marquette to score repeatedly.

Marquette was back in the driver's seat on turnovers in this game after an ugly outing against Providence.  The Golden Eagles had just nine turnovers against Georgetown, with six of them coming without Georgetown forcing the issue.  With 26 offensive chances in the game, that's a rate of just over 23 unforced turnovers per 100 attempts, well below Marquette's 27.5 per 100 offensive chances last season.

Up Next: Well, I mentioned that game against Denver.  That's the last game on the regular season schedule for Marquette, and the top seed in the Big East tournament is on the line.  Obviously, the 11-2 and nationally ranked Pioneers are heavy favorites on their home field, but all it takes is a one goal lead after 60 minutes to win.

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