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#16 Marquette Men’s Lacrosse Preview: at #14 Richmond Spiders

WOOOOOOO RANKED TEAM BATTLE

NCAA Basketball: Duquesne at Richmond Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Sooooo, I don’t know what to make of Marquette’s 17-1 season opening win over Jacksonville.

14 different Golden Eagles found the back of the net in that game, and none of them were Ryan McNamara. Obviously, the All-American caliber attackman isn’t going to stay out of the net all season, but it’s weird to look at the stat sheet after one game and see a goose egg next to his name in that column.

It’s even weirder to see McNamara sharing the early points lead with freshman Dylan Dobrosky. The New Jersey native had two goals and an assist in the fourth quarter against Jacksonville as head coach Joe Amplo went deeeeeep into his bench to let off the gas. It didn’t really work, as MU scored six more goals in the final 15 minutes. That’s how you end up with things like “Eight different Golden Eagles scored their first career goal” in that game.

We’re almost assuredly not going to see that level of offensive explosion from Marquette on Saturday, and it’s safe to say that the defense won’t be as stingy, either. While it’s great to see a newly reconstituted defensive corps post the lowest goals allowed total in program history, it’s not like they can get that much better than only allowing one goal. Facing a Richmond squad that’s scored at least 10 goals in each of their three games already this season will give us a better idea of how Nicholas Eufrasio is blending together with Nick Grill and Jackson Ehlert on close defense.

You can tell that Amplo is more than ready to dig in deep to prepare his squad for their first of many games this season against a ranked opponent from these quotes in the official GoMarquette.com preview:

“Those guys have had this game circled on their calendar for a year, as have I,” Marquette head coach Joe Amplo said. “They are going to present a tremendous test for us. This is going to be a great measuring stick for the character of this team. How hard we compete. How much better we improve from an execution standpoint from last week to this week. How focused we are on winning."

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“At the end of the day I truly think that Richmond is a better team than us on paper,” Amplo said. “All of their guys are back and they’ve certainly been in enough big games and had success. They’ve had signature wins and played in big moments. You look at that them and you would say that this is the year that they could have a really good season. They are us, and we are them. Two tough teams trying to grind it out and prove ourselves against the best in the country. This is going to be a great game. This is going to be a fun game to be in, and win or lose, I just want to continue to improve and get better.”

It will be a stern test of what Marquette is made of early in the 2017 season, and hopefully they’ll be doing the majority share of the helmet pats and stick taps by game’s end.

Game #2: at #14 Richmond Spiders (3-0)

When: Saturday, February 25, 2017, at 10am CT
Where: Robins Stadium in Richmond, VA
Audio/Visual: The Spiders are going to make you pay $5 for a video stream because they hate America. Live stats will be here.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteMLax

Marquette has a 2-0 all time series lead over Richmond. Including this game, all three meetings between the two teams will have been played in Virginia, and Marquette has an 18-12 lead in goals scored.

In the first ever meeting, Marquette scored six goals in the fourth quarter, including two in the final minute, to rally from an 8-4 deficit only to have RU’s Mitch Goldberg tie the game back up at 10 with seven seconds left. Jordan Greenfield provided the dramatic game winner in overtime, giving him a game high six goals on the day. Last year, Marquette held Richmond scoreless for the first 36 minutes on their way to grinding out a 7-2 victory against the Spiders. At the time, that was the program record for fewest goals allowed in a game, but it was eclipsed last weekend when the Golden Eagles held Jacksonville to only one.

For the first time in the series, both teams will be ranked for their encounter. MU was ranked back in 2015, but not in 2016. If the two squads maintain their current trajectories, this could turn into a quality win come NCAA selection time for whichever squad ends up on top.

Richmond started their season off with a bang, downing a ranked Fairfield team quite easily, 17-3. That hot streak rolled right into their next game against UMBC, as they took a 7-1 lead early in the third quarter and coasted to victory. Things got a little off-kilter in their most recent outing, as they had to score five goals in the fourth quarter to push away from a 5-all tie after 45 minutes for a 10-7 win against Mount St. Mary’s.

With three 10 goal games under their belt, you would expect to see some gaudy numbers on the RU stat sheet, and you’re mostly not wrong. Ryan Lee leads the team in goals with 10, bringing him very close to averaging a hat trick, while Teddy Hatfield’s eight goals and six assists have him atop the Spiders’ points chart with 14. All told, seven different Spiders have scored at least twice, 11 of them have found the back of the net, and 15 have recorded at least one point so far.

Benny Pugh is the goalie for Richmond, and he’s played every minute so far this season after starting seven games for RU a year ago. He’s playing fantastically well, allowing just five goals per 60 minutes and stopping 70% of shots on frame.