We’re about two months away from the start of the lacrosse season, which means it’s about time for preseason stuff to start wandering out into the public. On schedule, we get the Inside Lacrosse Face-Off Yearbook, and to go along with it, we get their preseason top 25.
IL has decided to rank YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles at #15 in the country heading into the season.
That’s not a small thing.
To be clear, this is just Inside Lacrosse’s own internal staff rankings, not the official preseason media poll. That won’t be coming until January at some point.
Here’s how Quint Kessenich blurbed the Golden Eagles:
Milwaukee’s Best pulled the upset over Denver once again to salvage a .500 season. Scoring goals was a chore. A young team in 2018 is in need of defensive midfield depth. It’s a group without superstars who will rely on sophomore d-man Nick Grill.
The goal scoring item is more than fair, and you don’t have to look any further than Ryan McNamara going from 57 points to 36 points between junior and senior years to get that idea across. The Golden Eagles are going to be looking for fresh faces to put the ball in the net in 2018, as four of MU’s six double-digit scorers were seniors last season, and they have lost six of their top nine goal scorers to graduation overall.
Perhaps having roles to fill on offense will end up paying off for head coach Joe Amplo, as it could end up in a variety of scorers all over the field. While Marquette will be looking for bodies in the defensive midfield as well with the departures of Griffin Connor and Noah Joseph, the overall defense should be fairly reliable. The aforementioned Nick Grill is back for his sophomore year after starting all 16 games as a freshman, and now-junior Jackson Ehlert was right alongside Grill every time out. Goalie Cole Blazer is back for his senior season behind them, leaving Amplo and defensive coordinator Jacob Richard to fill Nicholas Eufrasio’s role on that end of the field.
The question marks around Marquette this season is one part of why I was slightly surprised to see IL install the Golden Eagles as a possible NCAA tournament team in 2018. The other part is the schedule that MU will be playing.
There are six teams in IL’s top 25 on Marquette’s schedule this season: Duke (#1), Denver (#5), Notre Dame (#6), Ohio State (#8), Villanova (#21), and Providence (#24). Three of those squads are in the Big East. Four of the six are in the top eight.
That is not going to be an easy run through March and April by any stretch of the imagination, especially with MU’s last four games going like this: Notre Dame, Providence, at Duke, at Denver. I mean, yikes.
The good news is that Marquette has dumped Denver in the Big East tournament in each of the past two seasons, so they’ve proven that they can compete with the top teams in the country. The bad news is that Marquette has never beaten Duke, Notre Dame, or Denver in the regular season, which is going to be kind of important in terms of qualifying for the NCAA tournament in May.
The Golden Eagles kick off the 2018 schedule on February 17th at home, as they host Jacksonville, presumably in the Andy Glockner Memorial Bubble at Valley Fields.
You can check out Inside Lacrosse’s full top 25 right here, although be warned: it is a slideshow.