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Marquette Men’s Lacrosse Pulls The Upset Against Denver In The Big East Tournament

Less than a week after getting smoked by the Pioneers, the Golden Eagles advance past them to their second straight title game.

John Wagner
John Wagner had a career high four goals against Denver in the semifinals.
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Five days ago, Marquette allowed Denver to score eight goals in the first 19 minutes of a 16-8 loss to the Pioneers.

On Thursday afternoon in Rhode Island, the Golden Eagles held #2 ranked and top seeded Denver to just eight goals in 60 minutes as they defeated the Pioneers, 10-8, in the Big East semifinals and advanced to Saturday’s tournament championship game. It’s the second straight championship game appearance for Marquette after winning the whole shebang in 2016.

UPDATE: We have a scoring change! Marquette goalie Cole Blazer was credited with a goal for his last second bouncer that found its way into the Denver net at the end of regulation. As long as the ball is out of your stick, it counts if it goes in, which is exactly what happened on this play:

Five days ago, Marquette’s problem was that Denver got away from them early and they never had a chance to get back into the game. On Thursday, Marquette held the Pios to just one goal in the first quarter as the Golden Eagles staked themselves to a 2-1 lead after 15 minutes. Denver briefly took a 3-2 lead early in the second, but the two teams traded goals the rest of the way leading to a 5-5 halftime tie after Joe Dunn scored this goal with 68 seconds left before the break.

Marquette got the first two goals of the second half, both late in the frame, to go up 7-5. First it was John Wagner bullying his way open to beat Denver goalie Alex Ready:

And then Grant Preisler beat Ready on a diving shot at the goal line extended, and this is just ridiculous:

Here’s Preisler’s SECOND goal of the third quarter, and yes, I swear to you, this is a DIFFERENT goal.

Same move, different shot angle, same result. Through 45 minutes, the Golden Eagles were up 8-6 and riding high.

Denver’s not ranked #2 in the country by luck and chance, though, and goals from Tyler Pace and Connor Cannizzaro had the game knotted at eight each with a bit over 11 minutes left to play. At the 8:12 mark, though, Denver got caught ball watching and no one slid to Wagner as he slipped past the defense for an easy goal, his fourth of the game, on a feed from Dunn. That set up maybe the most important play of the game.

Denver won the face-off after Wagner’s goal, and they had some time to play with to ensure a quality shot. Except Colin Riehl wasn’t having any of that. The junior from Virginia poked away a lazy pass, scooped up the ground ball, and that gave MU time to set up, and set up they did.

Just before the four minute mark, DU doubled Tanner Thomson, but boy was that a boo-boo, as the double came from Ryan McNamara’s guy. The Big East First Teamer had time and space to set his feet and rifled home MU’s 10th goal of the game. All that was left was a couple of saves from Cole Blazer to give him 12 on the day, and the Golden Eagles were on to Saturday’s title game.

How about some highlights, courtesy of CBS Sports Network?

Up Next: #4 seeded Marquette will tangle with #3 seeded Providence on Saturday. The Friars beat #2 Villanova, 10-7, in the second semifinal of the day. The game will be at Providence, of course, with face-off set for 3:30pm Central time. FS2 will be carrying the broadcast.