With 60 minutes in the books, we now have a general idea of what Marquette is aiming to accomplish on offense this season. 10 days ago, all we really knew was that John Wagner was going to have to carry a heavy load, and that was borne true by Wagner’s two assists and a hat trick including the game winner with just seconds remaining against Jacksonville.
What we didn’t know was who else would score for the Golden Eagles. Hell, we didn’t even know who was going to start alongside Wagner. Turns out, the answer was “two freshmen on attack and three sophomores in the midfield, two of whom didn’t play much last year and another who was a defensive middie in 2017.”
It also turns out that concoction of players worked pretty well. The aforementioned defensive midfielder was Connor McClelland, who led MU in goals with four against the Dolphins. That’s good! Freshman Anthony Orsini had a great showing in his collegiate debut as well, throwing in two goals on seven shots and also chipping in an assist and a ground ball.
Marquette also made liberal use of their bench. With that many new guys in the lineup, I spent a decent amount of time reading jersey numbers and checking them against the roster to get comfortable with matching them to a name. This process was disrupted on a regular basis by the Golden Eagles rotating through multiple lines worth of guys, which led to a lot of “wait, who’s #17 again??” It’s freshman attacker Keaton Thomson, by the way.
Still, seven different players combined to tally 11 goals and five assists against Jacksonville, and that’s a pretty decent performance. You could make an argument that Marquette’s biggest problem was actually on defense against J’Ville. After leading by three at the half, the game was tied at the start of the fourth quarter as the Dolphins outscored MU 3-0. That’s not that big of a deal, sometimes these things happen. What does cause a little bit of concern in my head is the events of the fourth quarter. Twice in the frame, Marquette took a two goal lead and seemed to be ready to pull away, and twice Jacksonville came back to tie the game with two goals of their own in less than two minutes.
I’m sure that caused fits on the sideline between head coach Joe Amplo and defensive coordinator Jacob Richard, too, so I don’t feel bad pointing it out. The defense is supposed to be the strength of the Marquette roster this season, returning their goalie and two of their starting defensemen as well as shifting a long time long stick midfielder to close defense. The good news is that Marquette’s offense was up to the challenge of reclaiming the lead each time.
Game #2: at Detroit Mercy Titans (1-2)
Marquette is 5-0 all time against Detroit Mercy, beating the Titans in every single season in program history. After a pair of five goal games and a six goal game in the first three seasons, MU has escaped with two wins by two goals each in the past two seasons.
I don’t know how much game tape exists from Detroit’s first three games of the season, but I suspect that Marquette head coach Joe Amplo is going to find it particularly useful this season. Not just to scout the Titans for this game, but down the road. The Titans started the season with a 10-7 loss to then-#6 Notre Dame, and after snagging a road overtime win against Mercer, Detroit lost on Tuesday evening down in Florida to Jacksonville. That’s one game against a future Marquette opponent and one game against a team that the Golden Eagles have already played. Shoutout to the Titans for making things 1% easier for MU when it comes to scouting.
Oh, by the way? The score of that Jacksonville game? 15-8. MU beats the ‘Phins, 11-10, ‘Phins beat the Titans, 15-8. This game on Saturday may be just what the doctor ordered for Marquette on both sides of the field.
Detroit has just one player on the preseason all-MAAC team: short stick defensive midfielder Charlie Hayes. The senior from Michigan averaged over a caused turnover per game last season, and nearly three ground balls per contest while also scoring five goals in 16 games. As these things tend to go when you have just one preseason honoree, Detroit was picked to finish fifth in their league in 2018.
The Titans are spreading the offense around pretty well so far this season. Three players have scored four goals already to tie for the team lead with a fourth guy sitting at three goals in three games. Junior attacker Matthew Vangalen leads the team in points with four goals and four assists, but it’s senior attacker Alec Gilhooly that seems to be the focus of the offense with a team high 15 shots. Those shots haven’t turned into offense for Detroit, though, as Gilhooly has just one assist through three games. Redshirt freshman Logan Shamblin has played every minute in net for Detroit so far this season, assembling a 10.62 goals-against average and stopping 46% of shots on goal.