Yes, freshman midfielder Ryan McNamara broke the ice and put Marquette up 1-0 in the early going. But Marquette was whistled for four penalties in the first quarter after McNamara's goal, and a fifth one less than three minutes into the second quarter. While Bellarmine only cashed in on one of their extra man opportunities, the penalties had Marquette chasing the game, and 10 seconds after BJ Grill's tripping penalty ended in the second quarter, Marquette found themselves in a 4-1 hole.
Marquette would pull to within a goal twice, once midway through the second quarter, and again just after intermission, with both goals coming from redshirt senior star Tyler Melnyk. Bellarmine was coming off of four straight losses, all in ECAC league play, and they chose to not roll over when Marquette was pushing the issue. The Knights held Marquette scoreless of the remainder of the third quarter while tacking on three goals of their own to make it 8-4 heading to the final period.
The first 45 minutes were rocky as all hell for the Golden Eagles. But after trading goals with the Knights to open the fourth quarter, Marquette got two unanswered goals, one from Melnyk, his third of the game, and one from Henry Nelson. Nelson's goal came on an extra man opportunity brought on by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Bellarmine's head coach, Kevin Burns. He was objecting to a cross checking penalty issued to Michael Pilsco, and the referee nearest the benches turned and looked straight at Burns when he threw the flag. This sent Burns into a fit, where he could easily be heard in the stands shouting "I SAY IT'S A WEAK CALL AND I GET A FLAG?"
Nelson's goal pulled Marquette within two at 9-7 with 7:13 remaining, and with the recent call against Bellarmine and their coach, maybe things were turning MU's way. Less than 45 seconds later, a Marquette pass was not quite on target, and the referee called it out of bounds for Bellarmine. Both MU head coach Joe Amplo and Melnyk went into a frenzy, arguing that the pass was tipped by a BU defender, which is why it appeared to be an errant throw. Amplo did his arguing loudly, but from the sideline. Melnyk was the target of the errant pass, and given his proximity to the referee and his obvious body language, he lost his cool. He was issued a one minute unreleaseable unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, which took the air out of the Golden Eagles.
Bellarmine would manage just one shot on their EMO, but Conor Gately turned the ball over right after that, and the Knights were able to burn two more minutes off the clock. By the time Tucker Ciessau netted his fourth goal of the game with 33 seconds left to make it 10-7, the game had already been decided.
Marquette failed to maintain the energy and enthusiasm that they needed to beat a very good Rutgers team on Saturday. In a winnable home game against a Bellarmine team that had been eliminated from postseason contention by going 0-4 in league play, Marquette was unable to maintain their momentum and pick up a second consecutive win for the first time this season.
STAT WATCH: After having a man-sized effort against All-American Joseph Nardella on Saturday, Paul Riportella went 0-5 on face offs against Bellarmine in the first quarter, including three violations, and was replaced by KC Kennedy for the remainder of the game. Kennedy had a good outing at the X, going 9-16. All told, Marquette was 9-21 on face offs, which puts them right at the lousy 42.9% success rate that they were at last year.
The good news on turnovers here is that Marquette only had nine for the whole game, well below their 4th best in the country average of 12 per game. When you're one of the best teams in the country at something and you still manage to be better than that, you're doing something right. However, eight of those turnovers were of the unforced variety, including the errant pass that ended up earning Melnyk a penalty. With 27 offensive opportunities in the game, that's a rate of 29.6 unforced turnovers per 100 chances, higher than the already lousy rate that MU posted last season. Again, you can't be that disappointed, because no one in the country averages less than 10 turnovers, but in a winnable game, you can't cough the ball up at the rate that Marquette did here.
Up Next: Marquette looks for their second Big East win when they play St. John's in Queens on Sunday afternoon. The Red Storm are 6-4 on the season and 2-1 in Big East play. They dropped a 16-13 decision to Rutgers last night after St. John's had a 12-11 lead at the start of the fourth quarter. If Rutgers and Marquette had a wild game, and if St. John's and Rutgers had a wild game, then maybe Marquette and St. John's can have a wild game and that might favor the Golden Eagles.