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Marquette Men's Lacrosse Preview: at #16 Lehigh

The third season of Division 1 lacrosse at Marquette kicks off on Saturday with a road trip to Pennsylvania.

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Third verse, same as the second.

For the second straight year, Marquette opens their schedule against the Mountain Hawks, and for the second straight year, Marquette is the home opener opponent for Lehigh.  The Mountain Hawks start the season ranked #16 in the Inside Lacrosse Top 20 and #18 in the USILA Coaches Poll Top 20.

While Marquette has lost Tyler Melnyk, the program's all time leading scorer, since last season, they return a strong core of guys who contributed offensively to last year's team.  Kyle Whitlow was the lone offensive player who was named to the Big East's all-conference preseason team, but he was joined by two defensive stars for the Golden Eagles.  Junior B.J. Grill is quickly earning a reputation as one of the best one-on-one defenders in the country, holding scoring fireballs like Kieran McArdle from St. John's and Notre Dame's Matt Kavanaugh without a goal last season.  Liam Byrnes, the third all-conference honoree, plays long stick midfield for head coach Joe Amplo, and he might be the most noticeable player on the field for Marquette.  Between standing at 6'3" tall and the long hair pouring out of the back of his helmet, he's easy to notice when he comes up with a ground ball and takes off with his long strides towards the opponent's net.

Sophomore Jimmy Danaher returns in net for Marquette after swiping the starting job from J.J. Sagl a few games into last season.  While he didn't earn any postseason honors, Danaher was in the net for all four of Marquette's one goal wins in Big East play that had the Golden Eagles finishing second in the league in just their first season as a member.  This time around, Marquette was picked to finish fourth, but there's just two polling points separating #2 Georgetown, #3 Villanova, and MU in fourth.

Game #1: at #16 Lehigh (0-0)

When: Saturday, February 7, 2015, at 11am
Where: Ulrich Sports Complex in Bethlehem, PA
Audio/Visual: The Patriot League Network has the FREE video streaming for you, and there's live stats.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteMLax

Last year, Marquette fell 13-6 to Lehigh in the season opener, and it wasn't really that close, as MU scored the last two goals of the game.  Lehigh scored the first two goals of the game before Marquette even touched the ball on offense.  The Golden Eagles knotted the game at two before the first quarter ended, but the Mountain Hawks had the last goal of that opening frame.... and the first four of the second quarter, too.  That was pretty much it for Marquette's chances, and even if they had some hope after halftime, at 7-4, Lehigh scored six straight to officially smother that hope.

The Mountain Hawks are picked to finish third in the Patriot League this season behind Loyola (MD) and Army.  2014 All-American Honorable Mention goalie Matt Poillon was named the preseason Defensive Player of the Year, and Poillon was joined on the all-Patriot League team by fellow 2014 All-American Dan Taylor (76 points in 2014, 7th most in the country) as well as defenseman Lukas Mikelinich.  Taylor had two goals and two assists against Marquette a year ago, while Mikelinich was in the starting lineup and tallied one ground ball.  Poillon, who has been an honorable mention All-American every single year that he's been at Lehigh, made nine saves against MU to earn the win before giving way to his backup for the final three minutes of the game.

Lehigh is in a bit of turmoil this week.  Three players were suspended from the team earlier this week, and that was followed by Lehigh announcing that all three were no longer enrolled at the university.  All three players - Patrick Corbett, Alex Eaton, and David Telesco - played against the Golden Eagles a year ago, with Corbett and Telesco in the starting lineup.  Corbett scored four goals against Marquette and Eaton chipped in an assist.  Telesco played defense, and while he had only a lone ground ball on the stat sheet, it's worth noting that he was named to the all-Patriot League team after the season.