Marquette’s surprising postseason run came to an end on Sunday afternoon, as the Golden Eagles fell to #4 Notre Dame by a score of 15-9 in the first round of the 2017 NCAA men’s lacrosse tournament. MU wraps up the 2017 season with a final record of 8-8, while the Fighting Irish advance to the quarterfinals to face #5 Denver.
For one brief shining moment in the second quarter, it seemed like Marquette was putting something together against the Irish. The Golden Eagles slammed home three goals in less than 90 seconds, including Ryan McNamara bombing home a goal from midfield as Notre Dame was attempting to ride Marquette in their defensive end. The ride pulled ND goalie Shane Doss waaaaaay out of his net, and McNamara potted his 21st goal of the season with relative ease with no Irish defenders anywhere near the net.
That goal made it a 4-4 game with 6:52 left in the second quarter, and one might think that the ease with which McNamara popped that one in from distance would have discouraged ND coach Kevin Corrigan from continuing to use the 10-man ride. That was not the case as Marquette struggled to get coherence on clearances over and over again, and the Irish took advantage of Marquette miscues to take a 7-4 lead at halftime.
Things slipped further out of hand in the third quarter, as Marquette got outscored 5-3 coming out of the locker room. Even with that being the case, John Wagner and Tanner Thomson provided a flicker of life with goals before the midway point of the fourth quarter, with Thomson’s marker moving the game to a 13-9 margin favoring the Irish. Marquette had over nine minutes to work with at that point, but they would not score again while Notre Dame tacked on two more goals to send the first round tournament game to its conclusion.
The real bummer of the whole deal is that Marquette was pretty even with Notre Dame elsewhere on the stat sheet. Shots were knotted at 35 apiece, Marquette actually outworked Notre Dame for ground balls, 38-28, there was just a margin of one in the turnover department, and Zachary Melillo was a force on face-offs, going 19-28 in the game.
Marquette’s ultimate downfall may have been their inability to convert with an extra man. Notre Dame was whistled for four penalties in the game, one in the second quarter and three in the third. The Golden Eagles could not scrape together a goal in those four chances, including a full minute of EMO time when Garrett Epple was snagged for an illegal body check.
With the 2017 season at a conclusion, we have to say good-bye to Marquette’s nine seniors: Kyran Clarke, Griffin Connor, Jimmy Danaher, Andy DeMichiei, Joe Dunn, Nicholas Eufrasio, Ryan Geller, Noah Joseph, Ryan McNamara, Robbie Pisano, and Grant Preisler. THANK YOU so much to all nine of these guys. They weren’t the first recruiting class to come to Marquette, nor were they the second. They are, however, a group that made a decision to come to play college lacrosse for a team that hadn’t actually played an official game when they signed or maybe they signed up to play for a team that had just gone a fairly surprising 5-8 in its first season if they waited til the spring. Either way, they were walking into a situation where they had no idea what the future held for Marquette lacrosse. It is a fact, not speculation, but a fact that this team and this program would not have come as far as it has over the past four seasons without all of the hard work that these nine guys put into the team, day in and day out. It defies logic that Marquette has earned two NCAA tournament spots in the first five years of the program’s existence, and this group of seniors is heavily responsible for that defiance. Marquette is nationally relevant in this sport already, and whatever the future may hold for Joe Amplo and his team, that future will be possible because they’re standing on the shoulders of these nine giants.