The two teams traded scoring goals on Saturday afternoon in Milwaukee, but it was the Golden Eagles standing tall at the end of 60 minutes, as #17 Marquette defeated Providence 8-7.
The Golden Eagles finish 5-0 at Valley Fields in the first year of competition at the on-campus facility. This is a special achievement, as this game was Senior Day for MU's 19 seniors, the first four year players in program history. The win moves MU to 4-0 in Big East action, which sets up a Mile High showdown against Denver in two weeks with the Big East regular season title on the line.
When I said that these teams traded goals in this game, I don't mean that it went back and forth. Marquette took a 7-0 lead in this game with less than two minutes left in the first half. It was a pack of unusual scorers for the Golden Eagles, led off by two game opening goals from junior Grant Preisler. Preisler was in the starting lineup to replace senior attackman Conor Gately, who was in a walking boot following an injury that took him out of Wednesday's game against #1 Notre Dame. Ryan McNamara is a familiar face to the scoresheet, as his goal with 7:47 left in the first quarter made him the third player in Marquette history to record 30 goals in a season.
Things twisted back towards the unexpected in the second quarter, with Kyran Clarke sandwiching a goal from defensive middie Jacob Richard with the seventh and eighth goals of the season for Clarke. Tanner Thompson's seventh marker of the year gave MU that 7-0 lead with 1:58 left in the half. You have to wonder if the game would have gone differently if MU was able to button up the Friars for the rest of the frame, because PC scored twice in the final 17 seconds to head to the locker room down only five goals and with a big burst of positive mentality.
That mentality turned into an early third quarter goal for Michael Perretine to make it 7-3, but that would be it for the Friars in the third quarter. For a while, it looked like that would be the only goal of the period, but McNamara knocked home a pass from Richard with 45 seconds left to make it 8-3. The goal ended up being McNamara's 40th point of the season, allowing him to match his 30 goal achievement as just the 3rd player with 40 points in a season.
The fourth quarter is where things went south for the Golden Eagles. The slide got started when Connor Griffin got whistled for cross-checking and Keenan Assaraf cashed in for the only man-up goal of the game for either side. That made it 8-4 with 12 minutes left. Will Mazzone got the helper on that goal, and three minutes later, he added a goal to his team leading total to make it 8-5. Ok, nine minutes left, that's fine.... except Assaraf scored again with 3:28 left.
8-6. Thankfully, Zachary Melillo won the ensuing faceoff, so Marquette could burn some clock. McNamara got a shot to hit the post with the stall clock on with 1:29 remaining, but PC came up with the ground ball and quickly bolted down field to beat Cole Blazer with Perretine's second goal of the game. 8-7, 57 seconds left.
Drama at the faceoff X. Melillo got another win for the Golden Eagles on a ground ball by Richard, and MU was able to control the final few seconds, made even easier by a late PC penalty. A close call as the Friars finished on a 7-1 run over the final 31 minutes, but it still goes up on the league standings as a win.
McNamara finished with five points on the day, adding three assists to his two goals. Cole Blazer made seven saves, mostly spread out throughout the game, to pick up the win. Assaraf led PC in goals, while Joseph McHale had a goal and two assists to lead the Friars in points on the day.
How about some highlights, courtesy of GoMarquette.com:
Up Next: The Golden Eagles have one final non-conference contest before they head to Denver for that Big East regular season title tilt. Marquette will be in North Carolina on Friday evening to square off with Duke. The Blue Devils (7-6, 1-2 ACC) were ranked #16 in the country this past week, and have not played since last Sunday's loss to Notre Dame. They'll play Virginia on Sunday afternoon to wrap up ACC play before hosting MU to wrap up their regular season. The game against Duke may end up being essentially an NCAA tournament play-in game, as Marquette and Duke were Lacrosse Magazine's Last Team In and First Team Out respectively in their most recent bracketology.