60 minutes of perfect lacrosse.
That's what it takes to knock off a #1 ranked team, which is what Marquette is tasked with on Wednesday afternoon. In their most recent game, Marquette only played 30 minutes of perfect lacrosse. The Golden Eagles looked like a team barely scraping through the season in the first half against 1-10 St. John's. They were trailing 6-4 at the half before Andy DeMichiei went HAM, scoring five of his new program record seven goals. MU outscored St. John's 7-1 in the final 30 minutes, which is about as close to perfect lacrosse as you can get.
They're going to have to do that for 60 minutes on Wednesday if they want to beat #1 Notre Dame.
The good news is that Marquette has a bit of house money in their pocket. With wins against Richmond, Villanova, and Quinnipiac already in their pockets, Marquette looks like a team that belongs in the NCAA tournament. There's no real shame or damage done by losing to the #1 team in the country, particularly on the road. However, two of MU's final three games after Wednesday's clash are against ranked opponents as well, and MU has not fared well in the past against Duke and Denver, losing to both squads each of the past three years. They haven't beaten Notre Dame yet, either, so if head coach Joe Amplo and his crew want to lock up an at-large bid to the Big Barbecue, they would really benefit from reversing at least one of those trends.
I should warn you now, though: Don't expect DeMichiei to repeat his seven goal feat again, and not just because it was the most goals a Golden Eagle has scored in three-plus seasons of lacrosse in Milwaukee. In fact, don't expect any individual player to even get to half as many goals as DeMichiei had on Saturday. You see, Marquette and Notre Dame have the two best scoring defenses in the country right now. Marquette is allowing just 6.33 goals per game, while the Irish are letting in a whopping 6.56 goals per game. In fact, if you can score nine goals against Marquette, you win this season. The only team to get to nine was Ohio State, and they picked up an 11-8 win over MU, the only MU loss of the season. The same concept applies to Notre Dame, as only Denver got to the nine goal mark, and the Pioneers needed overtime to get that ninth goal and defeat ND back on March 13th.
This will be the fourth straight year that Notre Dame is ranked in the top 10 when Marquette plays the Irish, the third time in four tries that they've been in the top five, and on top of all of that, this will be the second straight game where Notre Dame is ranked #1 when they face off against the Golden Eagles.
Game #10: at #1 Notre Dame (8-1, 3-0 ACC)
The Irish do have a little better knack for scoring than the Golden Eagles. They're averaging 10.67 goals per game, which has them exactly at #25 in the country. Marquette's averaging down in single digits, albeit just barely at 9.89 goals/game. Notre Dame has a quartet of double digit goal scorers this season, led by Mikey Wynne with 25. I was actually kind of surprised to see the sophomore attackman atop the scoring chart. My first two guesses would have been Sergio Perkovic (17G, no slouch) or Matt Kavanagh.
In fact, it's kind of disappointing to see Kavanagh (10 G, 17 A) focus more on distribution this year. You see, Marquette senior defenseman B.J. Grill kind of owns Kavanagh. It's been over 130 minutes since Kavanagh has scored a goal against Grill and Marquette. He had two goals in the first ever meeting between the two teams, but has not scored against Marquette in the past two seasons. He has had three assists in each of the last two meetings, so if he's already predisposed towards passing, Marquette will need to be careful with their defensive structure.
Shane Doss has played all but 16 minutes in net for Notre Dame this season. The New Jersey native is stopping just over 60% of the shots on frame this season, and his personal goals-against average is a miniscule 6.39. He made some ridiculous saves on Sunday afternoon against Duke to help rally Notre Dame from a halftime deficit and keep the Irish ranked #1 and in first place in the ACC, so Marquette will have to be crafty in order to get shots past him.