The USILA has released their men’s lacrosse preseason coaches poll for the 2018 season, and good news! Marquette will start the campaign as the #15 team in the country according to the collective voting of the coaches.
Bad news: Senior midfielder Tanner Thomson will take a redshirt year in 2018.
Let’s turn to head coach Joe Amplo for an explanation here.
“Tanner faced a tough injury in the fall semester and has recently decided to change career paths academically,” Amplo said. “After thoughtful deliberation with him, his family and the staff we have decided that what is best for Tanner in the long run is for him to redshirt this season. While we will miss his presence on gameday, I am thankful that we will have his leadership at practice to mentor a talented but young offensive unit.”
Inside Lacrosse had reported Thomson’s injury in mid-December, and back then, Amplo had said he was “still rehabbing.” If it’s a situation where Thomson isn’t likely to play until mid-March, then there’s no reason for him to try to hurry his way onto the field. In a way, his academic trajectory makes this decision a little easier, as he will likely benefit from an extra year of classes in order to sort things out on that end.
Marquette was always going to need guys to step up on offense this season, and Thomson’s absence just makes that all the more clear. The midfielder from Toronto was second on the team in 2017 in points with 34 last season with 20 goals and 14 assists. With Thomson out, the Golden Eagles are going to have to replace their top five point scorers from last season and six of the top seven, and the 2017 team was not particularly strong on the offensive end in the first place. John Wagner is the only player returning who scored more than seven goals last season and the only one who tallied more than eight points. Jack Zerillo is the guy propping that last sentence up, by the way, and past Zerillo, no one else returning had more than three points last season.
I guess the good news is that defenses are going to have no idea who to focus on other than Wagner? If Marquette can activate the skills of multiple underclassmen, then perhaps a wide ranging attack can be beneficial to the Golden Eagles’ scoring efforts.
Back to the USILA poll.
The USILA isn’t releasing point totals for the poll, so we don’t know how close Marquette came to #14 Towson or #16 Army. We do know that Marquette is going to face a barrage of preseason top 20 teams this season. MU’s schedule includes [deep breath] #2 Duke, #4 Denver, #6 Notre Dame, and #8 Ohio State in the regular season, as well as preseason scrimmages against #11 Johns Hopkins and #18 Penn.
As seems to always be the case for the Golden Eagles, if they want to qualify for a third straight NCAA tournament, they’re going to need to prove they belong before April 1st. Marquette plays Notre Dame, Duke, and Denver all in the final four games of the season, including road trips against the Blue Devils and Pioneers in the last two regular season games of the season.
A reminder, which is all the more notable with Thomson out for the year: Marquette has never defeated Notre Dame, Duke, or Denver in the regular season.
You can check out the full USILA poll right here.