It’s been two weeks since Marquette men’s lacrosse took the field. The last time we saw the Golden Eagles, they rattled off 11 straight goals against Robert Morris on their way to a 14-7 victory. That moved Marquette to 3-2 on the season after suffering two very ugly losses to Richmond and Ohio State.
Looking back on the season now with a bye week of space on top of those five games, it’s entirely possible that Marquette is actually a high quality lacrosse team that just happened to schedule themselves into a couple of buzzsaws. Take a peek at the latest Maverik media top 20 poll. Ohio State is #4 in the country with their 9-0 record, while Richmond is #12 at 7-1 after their victory over North Carolina. Richmond held UNC to just five goals in that game, while the Buckeyes limited Big East favorite Denver to just one goal through the first 42 minutes of a 16-7 win over the Pioneers.
Combine throwing yourself into a pair of buzzsaws along with Marquette figuring out a thing or two on defense after losing three All-Americans from last season, and boom: ugly losses. Marquette has been relatively solid elsewhere on the schedule, which means Saturday’s contest against Georgetown will be an interesting litmus test as to where the Golden Eagles are this season, especially after a bye week to help prepare them for the Hoyas.
Things get very important from here on out for Marquette. They have the five game league schedule, starting with this game against Georgetown, where every single contest has a massive impact on which four teams qualify for the Big East tournament. In addition, MU still has three non-conference games left, all against quality foes: #2 Notre Dame, #11 Duke, and coming up on Tuesday, a home date against an Air Force squad that’s receiving top 20 votes. ND is a roadie, while the Blue Devils will be coming to Milwaukee. If the Golden Eagles have ironed a few wrinkles out of their game during the bye week, a second straight spot in the NCAA tournament is not out of the question. They’re going to have to play some pretty impressive lacrosse to do it, though.
Big East Game #1: at Georgetown Hoyas (2-6)
When: Saturday, March 25, 2017, at 11am Central
Where: Cooper Field in Washington, D.C.
Audio/Visual: Georgetown is going to make you pay for a video stream because they hate America. Live stats are free.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteMLax
Marquette is 2-3 all time against Georgetown. Both of MU’s wins came by one goal margins and both were played in Wisconsin, as well. The Hoyas won in both meetings in D.C., as well as in the Big East tournament in 2015.
We have to give the Hoyas a little bit of credit here. No one wants to be 2-6, but they’ve played a really rough schedule. They’ve taken five losses to teams currently ranked in the top 20, and two of those losses are to teams in the top five. The Hofstra loss was by just two goals, and now the Pride find themselves undefeated and ranked #5 in the country. Bad loss? Far from it. Same goes for their one goal loss to #16 Towson and their one goal loss to #18 Loyola (MD), which came in their most recent outing. It’s not fun to take these losses, but the Hoyas aren’t that far from being 5-3 and probably ranked as well. Couple of ground balls here, a caused turnover or a save there, that might be the only thing standing in their way.
Here’s what we know for sure about the Hoyas: They’re about even with Marquette in terms of goals per game on offense, with Georgetown taking a ever so slight 9.57 to 9.40 advantage. However, Marquette’s defense is stronger than their record indicates, and that’s where MU might have the advantage on the Hoyas. The Golden Eagles have the best goals-against average in the Big East, allowing exactly seven goals per 60 minutes, while Georgetown is drifting around at just north of 10. If you dive a little deeper, it looks like Marquette’s core defensive strategies are excelling, as MU is killing 81% of their penalties this season, the best mark in the conference. This is probably going to be a low scoring affair, but hopefully MU’s defense has enough in the tank to make their goals stand up.
While Georgetown overall isn’t a major scoring threat, Daniel Bucaro is. The sophomore attackman is averaging three goals per game this season, the best average in the Big East, and he’s tied for the second most points per game at four with Denver’s Connor Cannizzaro. Redshirt junior attacker Peter Conley’s no slouch either, as he ranks sixth in the Big East in goals (2.14), assists (1.29), and points (3.43). Nick Marrocco is allowing goals on a regular basis (10.21 goals-against average), but that might be more on his defensive corps than anything else. Marrocco is averaging 11 saves per game and is stopping 52% of shots on goal. In other words: He’s knocking a whole hell of a lot down, but GU’s opponents are throwing two hell of a lots at him in the first place.
Marquette will need a big day from Zach Melillo (57% win%) on faceoffs. Georgetown uses two guys on draws, Peter Tagliaferri and Riley Mann. Tagliaferri has a better success rate (59%), but Mann is the one taking the majority of the draws (98 vs 78)