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#17 Marquette Men's Lacrosse Preview: at St. John's

Big road game for the Golden Eagles as they look to maintain their progress towards an NCAA tournament appearance.

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

This is a business trip for the Golden Eagles.

Earlier this week, Lacrosse Magazine assembled a look at bracketology for the upcoming NCAA tournament, and Marquette ended up as the seventh of the eight at-large teams in the field.  Marquette has five games left to play this season, and three of them are against ranked opponents.  Two of them are against teams in the top five.  The Golden Eagles can not squander a game against a not great St. John's team and damage their NCAA tournament profile.

They have to head to Queens and take care of business.  Thus, a business trip.

With double digit goal totals in five of their last six games, I'm not too worried about MU's performance on offense at this point, particularly against a team as bad on defense as St. John's.  I am vaguely worried about the defense.  I know that sounds silly to say after MU completely buttoned up the #6 team in the country last Saturday, allowing the incredibly potent Villanova offense to score just three goals.

But I don't think Cole Blazer can be "NCAA.com Defensive Player of the Week" again.  The odds are against it, y'know?  The sophomore from Libertyville made his first career start against the Wildcats last Saturday and was UNREAL for Marquette, making 13 saves to help MU get their first ever win over an opponent ranked in the top 10.  Can he keep that kind of historic play going?  Hell, is he still the starting goalie since he was a surprise entrant to the lineup against VU, or is head coach Joe Amplo going back to Jimmy Danaher?  I would make the argument that Blazer has earned another start here, against the Red Storm.

Big East Game #3: at St. John's (1-9, 0-1 Big East)

When: Saturday, April 9, 2016, at 11am Central
Where: DaSilva Memorial Field in Queens, NY
Audio/Visual: St. John's has a weird side deal with ESPN, so you can catch this one on WatchESPN. There's live stats, too.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteMLax

1-9 with five straight losses is really ugly, there's no way around that fact.  With that said, you can't say that the Red Storm haven't played a difficult schedule this season.

Four of their opponents this season are currently ranked in the Cascade/Maverik top 20, and two more are receiving votes in the latest edition of the poll.  Another opponent was ranked at the time of the game against the Johnnies, but has since dropped off.  That's seven of their 10 games this season, and it's not getting better for them here as they host the #17 ranked Golden Eagles.  It won't get better for them for a while as their next game is on the road against #4 Denver and the one after that is #18 Villanova.

Amidst that rough schedule, St. John's has struggled on both ends of the field.  They are last in the Big East in both goals for and goals against per game this season, and rank in the bottom 10 in the country in both categories.  They actually allow the second most goals per game in the country this season, with their average of 13.70 per game getting edged out by NJIT's 14.5/game.  NJIT, by the way, is in their second season of Division 1 competition.

In other words, given Marquette's defense (#1 scoring defense in the country), we could be looking at an amazingly lopsided game here.

Jason DeBenedictis is likely going to be the guy hanging out with B.J. Grill for two hours.  The sophomore from Holbrook, NY, is averaging more than two goals per game this season, good enough for the sixth best mark in the Big East.  Eric DeJohn was a unanimous selection to the preseason all-Big East team, and he's doing pretty well this season with 10 goals and 13 assists.  While that gives him the third best helpers total and second best average, the MLL draftee has missed each of the Red Storm's last three games.

St. John's goaltending situation is a total mess.  Joseph Danaher has started the last six games for the Red Storm, but he's been pulled at halftime of every contest for redshirt freshman Michael O'Keeffe.  Things got even weirder in their most recent game against Providence, when O'Keeffe got yanked with 11 minutes to play and the Red Storm down 13-7.  It's not like going to senior Harry Burke fixed anything (they lost 15-10), although O'Keefe had essentially wasted their chance at a win.  It was 6-5 at the half when head coach Jason Miller made his now customary switch from Danaher to O'Keeffe, and the Friars promptly scored four goals on seven shots in the third quarter.  I have no idea what the point was there, and it definitely looks like switching the goalies may have cost SJU a chance at a second win this season.