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#13 Marquette Men's Lacrosse Weekend Preview: at Jacksonville & at Mercer

Can the Golden Eagles start conference play with an undefeated record? They'll need two wins this weekend to do it.

No pics of Jacksonville's mascot, so here's some dolphins from Sea World.
No pics of Jacksonville's mascot, so here's some dolphins from Sea World.
Handout/Getty Images

5-0.  Didn't see that coming at the start of the season, did you?

I didn't.  Just a glance at the schedule at the start of the season wouldn't have made me guess that.  If I didn't know the schedule and you told me that Marquette would play two ranked opponents and two opponents that were earning votes in the Inside Lacrosse poll, I definitely wouldn't have pegged them for an undefeated record through five contests.  It's the third year of the program!  They lost the first All-American in program history who happens to be the program's all time leading scorer!

And yet here we are.  Here's Conor Gately, too, by the way.  He started the season 22 points behind Tyler Melnyk on Marquette's all time scoring list, and now Gately's just six points short of Melynk's career mark The junior from Yorktown Heights, NY, is averaging two goals and just over an assist per game this season, so with a little bit of help, he could go careening past Melnyk this weekend.  He's already got the Marquette record for assists in a career, so y'know, that one's just going to keep exploding.

Marquette has a 1-1 record against their two opponents this weekend.  During the inaugural season of Division 1 lacrosse in Milwaukee, the Golden Eagles picked up a 14-11 come from behind victory over Mercer to move to 2-2 on the season.  Last year, MU fell 9-8 to Jacksonville in goalie Jimmy Danaher's collegiate debut.

Game #6: at Jacksonville (2-1)

When: Friday, March 6, 2015, at 6pm Central
Where: D.B. Milne Field in Jacksonville, FL
Audio/Visual: Only live stats, because Jacksonville is jerks.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteMLax

The Dolphins are off to a 2-1 start this season, and have won their last two games.  They got cracked 20-4 by the Army squad that's now #11 in the country in their opener, but they bounced back with an overtime win over St. John's and snatched a 14-8 win over Michigan in their most recent contest.  The Dolphins gave up an 8-2 lead against the Red Storm and even trailed 10-8 with 13:24 remaining in the fourth quarter, but they were rescued by goals from Conor Igoe with 2:48 left in regulation and then Dakota Rohlin just 51 seconds into the extra session.

Jacksonville was picked to finish fourth in the Southern Conference this season, but it's hard to get a read on what that means.  You might remember a discussion about the SoCon back when Marquette played Richmond, which was picked to finish third.  Richmond's a quality squad this season, so were the SoCon coaches just delirious when they picked Bellarmine and High Point in front of the Spiders, and if so, what does that tell us about the Dolphins?

Chase McIntyre leads JU in goals this season with nine, but points leader Tom Moore has six goals and a team high seven assists, too.  Passing might be genetic in the Moore family, as brother Rob has six helpers for the Dolphins.  Junior Bass Barfield has played all but one quarter for Jacksonville this season.  That Army game is weighing on him, though, he gave up 19 of Army's goals in the first three quarters.  Barfield's goals against average is 13.75 on the season, and even after that shelling from the future Second Lieutenants, he's stopping 45% of shots on frame.

Game #7: at Mercer (0-4)

When: Sunday, March 8, 2015, at 1pm Central
Where: Five Star Stadium in Macon, GA
Audio/Visual: Only live stats, because Mercer is jerks.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteMLax

Ok, so remember all that stuff I said about Jacksonville and the SoCon? Mercer was picked to finish fifth behind Jacksonville.  I really have no idea what to make of that, other than I think that if Marquette wins these two games this weekend and then beats Bellarmine on March 31, MU deserves the SoCon's automatic NCAA bid because they'll be 4-0 in the league this season.

So, the Bears.  Zero wins and four losses isn't a good start to the season.  To their credit, they've lost by increasingly smaller margins, starting out with a 12 goal loss in the opener to Boston University, which was followed by 10 to Duke, seven to Siena, and finally, just a five goal margin while visiting Detroit earlier this week.  It's actually a miracle that the final in that Detroit game was only 12-7.  The two teams combined to fire EIGHTY-FOUR shots in that game, and the goalies combined for 44 saves.  28 of those saves were made by Detroit's Jason Weber, whom you might remember from making 19 saves on 45 shots against Marquette last weekend.

Chris Baxa and Chris Rahill both have six goals for Mercer this season to tie for the team lead.  Nine different Bears have recorded goals this season, while seven Mercer players have combined for 14 assists this season, led by four from senior Tim Geran.  Mike Nugent is the goalie of choice for head coach Kyle Hannan, and probably not the kicker for the Bengals in his spare time.  Nugent has played every minute so far this season for Mercer, compiling a goals-against average of 15.25 and a save percentage of an even .500.