I don't know if head coach Joe Amplo is going to word it that way to his team heading into Saturday afternoon's season opener against Bellarmine, but that's how I'm looking at it. In 2015, Marquette was ranked #13 in the country and 8-1 on the season, with only a 10-9 loss to a good Georgetown team marring their record. On March 31, the Golden Eagles trekked down to Louisville for a mid-week meeting with the Knights, looking to continue to build their NCAA tournament resume with a win.
They lost, 9-3.
Arguably, it was worse than that, as it was 4-3 at the start of the fourth quarter. Bellarmine scored twice, six seconds apart, with BU's FOGO scooping the ground ball and scoring, before two minutes had wound off the clock in the final frame, and the Knights were able to lock the Golden Eagles out of the net for the remainder of the period.
This loss may have cost Marquette a spot in the NCAA tournament last year. Yeah, they lost three more times down the stretch after that. But: the losses were to Duke, Notre Dame, and Denver. Without that bad loss to Bellarmine (the Knights finished the season 4-8) dragging them down, the Golden Eagles would have been in the conversation for an at large bid, if not clearly in the 16 team field.
I want revenge.
With three MLL draft picks on the roster and Marquette returning the program's all time goals leader AND all time assists leader, this team is primed and ready to make a run for the postseason in 2016. It has to get off on the right foot in the Valley on Saturday.
Game #1: vs Bellarmine (1-0)
When: Saturday, February 20, 2016, at 1pm Central
Where: Valley Fields
Audio/Visual: Live stats, but that's it, as the middle field at Valley isn't rigged for video.
Special Promotions: 1st 150 students get a free Marquette Lacrosse long sleeve shirt!
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteMLax
The Knights are 1-0 on the season after getting a win in one of the wildest games of the still very young season. Bellarmine took a 10-0 lead on Robert Morris (also a Marquette opponent this seaosn) with 4:29 left in the second half. They would not score again until the 5:15 mark of the fourth quarter, and that goal by Jack Perkins, his third of the game, made the score 11-7. Bobby Mo would score twice more to make it 11-9 with 1:23 remaining, but they only managed one more, with 20 seconds left, to end up falling just short on what could have turned into the greatest rally in Division 1 lacrosse history.
So, which Bellarmine team do you think is coming to Milwaukee on Saturday? The one that outshot RMU 24-9 in the first half or the one that got outshot 29-9 in the second half? Look, I'm not saying that they shouldn't have dropped back into a more defensive shell after halftime. They were up 10-1! But at 10-4 after three or 10-6 with 11:24 left, it's well past time to knock that off.
Dylan Gatt and Jack Perkins both totaled hat tricks for BU, while Tucker Ciessau had two markers and an assist in the game. Those three are Bellarmine's top three returning scorers from last year's team with Austin Shanks leaving on a transfer to Ohio State in the offseason. Sophomore Chase Rose got the nod in net from head coach Kevin Burns after spending the 2015 season at, hilariously, Robert Morris. He played the full 60 minutes, but we'll see whether he got the start because of his familiarity with RMU or if he's actually the guy for Bellarmine this season.
Marquette didn't see Bobby Schmitt in last year's game because he missed the season due to injury. The long stick midfielder is back this year, though, and he was a fourth round pick in the MLL Draft in January, going to the Ohio Machine with the #33 overall pick. The all-Southern Conference preseason pick had two goals on two shots against Robert Morris, plus six ground balls and two caused turnovers.
Speaking of Southern Conference honors, Schmitt was joined on the all-league team by Tucker Ciessau and Taylor Stuart. Those two were all-SoCon players at the end of the 2015 season, so it's no surprise to see them up there at the start of 2016. Officially, Schmitt made the all-league team as a defender, while Taylor got the nod as a long stick midfielder. As a team, the Knights were picked to finish fifth in a poll of the league's coaches, finishing with 23 points and nestled in between Mercer (31 points) and Furman (18 points)