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Men's Lacrosse Preview: Marquette (2-4) vs #4/5 Notre Dame (6-2)

Hey, who's up for a neutral site game?

This afternoon, Marquette and Notre Dame will face off in the first ever men's lacrosse game between the two schools. Somehow, the wizards in the MU athletic department got ND to agree to a neutral site game, so this one will be played at Loyola Academy in Wilmette, IL. Game time's at 4pm Central. If you can't make it out, then you can keep track of live stats here, or follow @MarquetteMLax for in game updates. I'll be there for my first ever MU men's lacrosse game, but you're already following @AnonymousEagle, right?

Conor Gately's rise to the top of the MU points list has earned him some attention as one of the best freshmen in the country, and it's also put him tied for 35th in the country in points per game this week. Two-thirds of his 21 points have been of the assisting variety. Bryan Badolato still carries the team lead in goals with 12, although since he didn't play against Georgetown, Tyler Melnyk is now just one behind him at 11. It's worth keeping an eye on the goalkeeping situation. J.J. Sagl got absolutely shelled for nine goals on 13 shots against Georgetown before he was pulled. Matt Barone didn't do much better from a goals perspective, allowing eight, but he did make just as many saves, and he did it on nearly twice as many shots.

Notre Dame is coming in to this game off of a 12-10 home loss to St. John's on Saturday. The Irish were ranked #1 in the country at the time, and I'm surprised they fell as far in the polls as they did. Not only were the Red Storm ranked at the time, but there's also this from the ND notes package:

The Irish have defeated (in chronological order) #6 Duke (13-5), #8 Penn State (10-9 OT), #9 North Carolina (10-9 3OT), #5 Denver (13-12 OT) and #8 Ohio State (9-4).

For those of you scoring at home, that's five of their six wins this season. The other win was on a road trip to Rutgers and the other loss was at home to Hofstra, who was ranked #15 at the time. That's an impressive schedule, if nothing else.

Notre Dame's in the bottom third in the country when it comes to causing turnovers and getting ground balls, so how are they winning? For starters, they don't beat themselves. The Irish are ninth in the country in man down defense, so it could be an interesting time if ND takes a penalty and allows Marquette and their best in the country man up offense to take a crack at the net.

Freshman attacker Matt Kavanagh is ND's points leader, and he's done it the old fashioned way: by leading the team in both goals (16) and assists (8). Junior midfielder Jim Marlatt is just one goal back of Kavanagh, while sophomore attacker Conor Doyle trails in assists by one. Senior goalie John Kemp has gone the distance so far this season for Notre Dame. Kemp has stopped 53% of shots on goal while putting together a goals-against average of 7.93.