Powered by four goals from all-Big East First Teamer Ryan McNamara and a hat trick from Andy DeMichiei, #2 seed Marquette defeated #3 seed Villanova, 14-9, in the Big East men's lacrosse semifinals on Thursday evening. The Golden Eagles advance to Saturday's championship game, where they'll face the Denver Pioneers, who are both the #1 seed in the conference tournament and the #1 ranked team in the country.
It was a momentous win for Marquette, as it was the first time that MU has won a conference tournament game. They had fallen in the semifinals in each of their first two years before breaking through this season. It's also a very significant win just for this year's edition of the Golden Eagles. The win gives Marquette two top 15 wins according to LaxPower's approximation of the RPI. It also vaults the Golden Eagles into the #10 slot with Selection Sunday just two days away. Obviously, that kind of thing just helps Marquette's case if they don't defeat Denver on Saturday and have to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. That kind of help is even more important this morning, after Albany, the America East favorite and a team expected to earn a top 8 seed in the national championship, lost to Hartford in the AE semifinals last night. The Danes will almost assuredly stay in the field as an at-large team, making things just a little bit tighter down around the bubble area where Marquette has been residing.
Three different Golden Eagles scored in the first three minutes and change of the game, continuing the domination of the Wildcats from earlier this season when MU won 11-3. Nova answered with a pair of their own to make it 3-2, but that's as close as they would get the rest of the game. John Wagner scored a brace before and after the break between the first and second quarter to give Marquette a little breathing room. Joey Froccaro, the younger brother of VU leading scorer Jake Froccaro, broke up the short lived MU run, but McNamara potted two before the halftime horn to make it 7-3 at the break.
Villanova got two quick goals out of the gate in the second half to provide the final two goal margin of the game. A quick answer from Conor Gately stemmed the tide before a pair from DeMichiei and a man-up strike from Henry Nelson made it 11-5 and seated control of the game firmly in Marquette's hands. Nova would make things a little tense late in the proceedings when the younger Froccaro made it 11-8 with just over eight minutes to play. MU responded with smart ball control to burn some clock and a strike from McNamara to shut the door on Villanova's chances. Tanner Thomson turned the deadbolt with an empty netter with 2:16 left.
If you're counting along, you've already figured out that Thomson's goal with Dan Willis out in a ride didn't end the scoring in the game. I think it's important to point out that it took Jake Froccaro, the third best goal scorer in the country, 118 minutes and 48 seconds to finally find the back of the net against the Marquette defense. I also think it's important to point out that McNamara promptly answered the Froccaro goal 20 seconds later, but mostly because I think the "EFF YOU, BUDDY" nature of that final goal from McNamara is funny.
McNamara finished with five points on the day with an assist on Nelson's EMO goal to pad his total. Gately finished with four points on two goals and two assists. Joey Froccaro led the way for Villanova, recording a hat trick and registering an assist. Even though Marquette won the game handily, it wasn't easy as Nova's John Moderski recorded six caused turnovers and 11 ground balls all by himself.
How about some highlights courtesy of GoMarquette.com and CBS Sports Network?
Saturday's title game against Denver will be televised on FS2 with the faceoff at Peter Barton Stadium in Denver scheduled for 3:30pm Central time.