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Marquette Men’s Lacrosse Preview: at Villanova Wildcats

The Golden Eagles are out in Pennsylvania on Saturday looking to move to 2-0 in Big East play.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Mount St Mary's vs Villanova Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Can I ask a favor? Can Marquette men’s lacrosse stop winning games by one goal margins? It’s starting to strain my system a little too hard.

I’m not just saying this because MU is coming off of two straight one-goal victories as a part of their four game winning streak. I’m saying this because Marquette has played 19 one-goal games in just 66 games in the history of the program, and that is a lot.

I’m also saying this because Marquette is 15-4 all-time in one goal games.

FIFTEEN WINS AND FOUR LOSSES. IN FOUR-PLUS SEASONS. That’s a .789 winning percentage. Mind boggling.

That is an incredibly unbalanced set of coin flip results. Some of the credit for this has to go to head coach Joe Amplo and his staff and his players. Gutting out one-goal wins is not easy. Maybe they’ll even be able to keep their winning percentage above 60% long term. But these results are going to start turning against Marquette eventually, so if they could just avoid it by winning by two or more goals in the future, that’d be great.

Marquette is currently sitting in first place in the Big East at 1-0 in league play. They’re also the only team to have won a conference game so far as no one else has squared off yet. That gives the Golden Eagles a leg up on the competition, but they need to maintain that advantage as everyone else gets started on Saturday. Odds are that Denver (hosting Georgetown) and Providence (visiting St. John’s) will be 1-0 come Sunday morning, so it would be really beneficial if the Golden Eagles could find a way to move to 2-0.

It would also really be helpful for Marquette’s NCAA tournament hopes. At this point, losing to Ohio State and Richmond isn’t a big deal, as they’re both looking like postseason squads. Marquette also has games against Duke, Notre Dame, and Denver left on the slate, and the Golden Eagles have a grand total of one all-time victory against those three teams. If MU wants to be in the at-large discussion, they’re going to need to beat Villanova and steal at least one of those three games.

Big East Game #2: at Villanova Wildcats (5-4, 0-0)

When: Saturday, April 1, 2017, at 12pm Central
Where: Villanova Stadium in Bryn Mawr, PA
Audio/Visual: Villanova is going to make you pay for a video stream because they hate America. Live stats are free, though.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteMLax

Marquette is 3-2 all time against Villanova. The wins have come in the last three meetings, with one on the road, one at home, and one in the Big East tournament in Denver.

The Wildcats started off the season ranked #16 in the country in the preseason media poll..... and then they opened up with three straight losses. Now, in their defense, they lost to a Yale squad that’s been bouncing around in the rankings all season as well as to a Penn State team that’s undefeated and ranked #2 in the country right now. To their credit, VU has now won five of their last six games, including a series of narrowly contested victories capped off by a 13-12 overtime road upset of at-the-time #4 Maryland. In other words: Rough start, solid to good present.

If Marquette is going to get the win on Saturday, it’s going to either take an outstanding offensive day or an outstanding defensive day. Villanova has scored at least 10 goals in every game this season, and they’ve tallied at least 13 in all of their victories. As you might expect, they’re ranked #7 in the country in terms of goals per game this season at 13.22, and that’s the best in the Big East by almost a full goal. Either Marquette is going to have to run with the Wildcats and match them goal for goal orrrrrr they’re going to have to figure out a way to shut down that attack. I don’t know which one is going to be easier for the Golden Eagles, but I can tell you that they managed to hold the Wildcats to single digit goals in two meetings last season.

Marquette’s defense is going to make sure they do their neck stretching exercises before the game, because this is going to be a major “keep your head on a swivel” game. Four different Wildcats have already tallied at least 17 goals this season, and they’ve posted 77 assists on 119 goals. In case you were wondering, yes, Villanova leads the Big East in assists per game. Marquette can’t just worry about covering up shooters and cutting down shooting lanes, they have to worry about guys cutting for passes and quick shots.

The good news, such as it is, comes to us in terms of the Wildcat defense. They are allowing the 13th most goals per game in the entire country and rank DFL in the Big East in goals-against average. They’ve allowed more than 10 goals in all but two games this season, although I will allow two notes on that. First, both of those games are their last two contests, however, they allowed eight goals to Bucknell and nine goals to Fairfield. It’s not like they’ve erected the Great Wall of China in their close defense here.

Sophomore Nick Testa has taken over the starting goalie duties after senior Dan Willis allowed 12 goals to Monmouth in the opener. Testa has started every game since then, but Willis has still managed to track down 144 minutes of action since then. It’s not like head coach Michael Corrado has a settled situation here. Testa is stopping just 42% of shots on goal, so if MU can get shots at the net, they should be able to find gaps to score.