Blaine Fleming scored with 1:58 remaining, and Marquette men's lacrosse outlasted Villanova by a final score of 9-8. It's the first Big East win of the season for the Golden Eagles, and the fifth one goal win as well.
Marquette had multiple things they had to overcome in order to win this game. First, leading scorer Jordan Greenfield was suspended after being ejected against Georgetown on Saturday. Next, the Golden Eagles were outshot by the Wildcats, 42-26. The real advantage for Villanova came after halftime, where they nearly doubled up MU on shots, 27-14. Adding to MU's difficulties in Pennsylvania was Nova's dominance on face offs. Luke Palmadesso outdueled K.C. Kennedy with ease, winning 15 of the 21 face offs in the game and all but one after halftime. And finally, they had to overcome Johnny Gallaway. The junior attackman from Middletown, Maryland, scored four goals for VU, all in a row in the second quarter and into the third.
This was a closely contested game all the way. Neither team ever had a lead of more than one goal, and of course, that means that no one ever scored more than two goals in a row. Each team scored two straight goals on two different occasions. Nova took a 4-3 lead on a pair of strikes from Gallaway in the second quarter. Marquette would end up tying the game at five right before halftime on Ryan McNamara's 13th goal of the season, and Kyle Whitlow's third goal of the game started the scoring in the second half. Midway through the third, Gallaway and Danny Seibel paired up for a set of strikes less than a minute apart to give Villanova a 7-6 lead.
It would be the last time that Nova would lead in the game, though. Fleming's first goal of the game came with 6:07 left in the third quarter and tied things at seven. Neither team would find the back of the net over the next 14 minutes, but finally, sophomore Grant Preisler gave MU an 8-7 lead with 6:46 left to play. Matt McIver would score for Nova with 4:11 remaining after MU had killed off a B.J. Grill holding penalty, but because of Nova maintaining possession, MU wasn't able to sub Grill back out onto the field.
That set the stage for Fleming's heroics. Marquette forced a turnover from Eric Gartner with just over three minutes to play, and with a delayed penalty call hanging over VU's head, the Golden Eagles were able to be patient long enough to find Fleming with space to rip a shot past Villanova goalie Dan Willis.
MU still had to play defense after Nova won the ensuing faceoff, though, and for a second, it looked like Kennedy was going to provide that defense off the draw. While Palmadesso won the draw, it was Kennedy who poked it away from Gallaway and Preisler who somehow managed to come up with a wild bouncing ball at midfield. But Kyran Clarke made a bad throw deep in the Marquette offensive end, which gave Nova just under 90 seconds to try to tie the game. Jack Curran's shot with 29 seconds left was blocked before it even got to Jimmy Danaher and the Marquette net, and while Gallaway got credit for coming up with the ground ball after that, VU was never able to settle things down again long enough to get another shot off.
Whitlow finished with a team high three points on his hat trick, while Sean Cerrone's goal and three assist for Villanova was the best scoring performance in the game. Without Greenfield in the lineup, Marquette got goals from five different players, including the second of Preisler's collegiate career. Jimmy Danaher made 10 saves to pick up the win, while Willis and Greg Stamatov teamed up to make 12 saves for Villanova.
Up Next: Joe Amplo don't care about your conference schedule. The Golden Eagles still have non-conference games to play, and they'll take care of one of them on Tuesday. They'll head to Louisville to play Bellarmine (2-5) at 4pm Central. You'll remember that MU was already in Louisville once this season when they defeated Ohio State and Detroit in one weekend as part of the Midwestern Lacrosse Classic.