Marquette men’s lacrosse begins the 2017 season on Saturday after 2016 was the most successful season in program history.
Here’s an incomplete list of program accomplishments in 2016:
- Beat a #1 ranked team for the first time
- Won the Big East tournament for the first time
- Qualified for the NCAA tournament for the first time
- Hosted an NCAA tournament game for the first time
Somewhat unsurprisingly, the first three items on that list actually took place in one 60 minute period on a May afternoon in Colorado, as Marquette dropped Big East regular season champion Denver in the conference tournament title game, thus giving MU the league’s automatic bid to The Big Barbecue.
But that season is over now, the redshirt seniors who came to campus as college freshmen five years ago to start Marquette lacrosse have moved on, and we begin a new era of the program. Things are already off to a solid start even though MU hasn’t played a game yet, with the Golden Eagles ranked #20 in the first Maverik media poll since other teams started playing games and earning votes in the new USILA coaches poll.
Once the referees signal for the first faceoff on Saturday, the clock will officially be off and running on Ryan McNamara’s quest to break the all-time Marquette scoring record. The senior from Minnesota has 116 career points, trailing Conor Gately’s record of 140. McNamara averaged 3.6 points per game last year while tallying 57 points (40G, 17A), and if he can do that again this year, he’ll knock down Gately’s record some time around the start of April.
McNamara will be the primary option on offense, but we can expect big things from Tanner Thomson as well. The junior came outta nowhere to finish tied for second on the team in goals last season after jumping into the starting lineup after Kyle Whitlow was lost for the season to a knee injury. Kyran Clarke and Andy DeMichiei will need to play major roles for the Marquette offense as well.
Head coach Joe Amplo and newly minted defensive assistant coach Jacob Richard will have their work cut out for them on that end of the field. Marquette has lost B.J. Grill and Liam Byrnes, both of whom were All-Americans on defense for the Golden Eagles last season. Nicholas Eufrasio is the returning anchor for the defensive unit, and having Cole Blazer returning in the net will go a long way towards getting MU up and running. Expect freshman Nick Grill (yes, B.J.’s younger brother) and sophomore transfer Jackson Ehlert to occupy most of the minutes protecting Blazer from even facing shots in the first place.
Game #1: at Jacksonville Dolphins (0-1)
When: Saturday, February 18, 2017, at 11am Central
Where: D.B. Milne Field in Jacksonville, FL
Audio/Visual: For whatever reason, this one’s on WatchESPN. There’s live stats, too.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteMLax
Marquette is 1-2 all time against Jacksonville. The Golden Eagles took a trip down Florida way in each of their first three seasons, but only got a victory in the most recent meeting.
It’s a different Jacksonville team than Marquette has seen for their first three games against the Dolphins. JU let head coach Guy Van Arsdale go after the Dolphins finished the 2016 season with a record of 3-10, sending Van Arsdale to a record of 25-39. In his place is John Galloway, who won two national championships while minding the net for Syracuse and finished his career as the winningest goalie in NCAA history. Alongside Galloway is Casey Powell, who was a four time All-American for Syracuse, one of the 15 best scorers in NCAA history, and Major League Lacrosse’s all time leading scorer.
They might know a thing or two about lacrosse, guys.
While the coaching staff might have a historic pedigree, things are off to a slightly rough start for the Dolphins in 2017. JU needed to score four straight goals in a four minute stretch in the fourth quarter against Lehigh last Saturday in order to pull within one at 13-12. That was as close as they got, though, as Lehigh won the ensuing faceoff and held the ‘Phins without a shot over the final four minutes and change while forcing three turnovers in order to hold on for the win.
This will be the first of three games this season (and the first of two straight to start) against teams in the Southern Conference, and based on the SoCon’s preseason poll, it will be the easiest of the three for Marquette. The Dolphins finished seventh in the poll, and with VMI getting just seven points, it’s clear that they have the least amount of faith amongst the league’s coaches outside of the Keydets.
What they do have going for them, though, is junior goalie Ben Gleichenhaus. The Colorado native was one of two netminders named to the preseason all-SoCon team. Gleichenhaus started all 13 JU games last season, earning himself Second Team all-conference honors while stopping 55% of shots on goal and posting a goals-against average of 11.43.
Marquette’s defensive efforts will have to be focused on Will Hendrik. The sophomore had five goals and an assist in Jacksonville’s opener, and while he might not pull that off in multiple games this season, it’s clear he has the green light from the coaching staff. MU will also have to keep an eye on Chase McIntyre after his three goal outing against Lehigh.