UGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH I can barely discuss it properly.
Marquette men’s lacrosse gave up two goals in the final 45 seconds of the game and ended up taking a 7-6 loss to #15 Notre Dame on Wednesday night. MU drops to 5-5 on the season and 0-7 all time against the Irish. The last three regular season meeting have all been decided by one goal. Notre Dame accounts for three of Marquette’s eight losses by one goal in program history.
For a wild and heavy majority of this game, Marquette appeared to be in control of the contest. After scoring three goals in fairly rapid fashion at the end of the first quarter to take a 3-1 lead, MU maintained that lead for most of the second quarter, even scoring 16 seconds after Notre Dame’s third goal of the contest to retake the lead at 4-3. Even when Marquette went scoreless for the entire third quarter, it’s not like they looked out of the game. Zachary Melillo won 12 of 15 face-offs in the game, and the Golden Eagles were out-dueling the Irish for ground balls, taking a 25-15 advantage at the end of the game.
Griffin Fleming scored a nifty goal in transition early in the fourth quarter to re-tie the game at five goals each, and just a little over two minutes later, John Wagner zipped in to score his second goal of the game to post Marquette to a 6-5 lead. All Marquette had to do was slam the door on the Irish.
And they almost did.
They got this game into the final minute with a one goal lead, but then Bryan Costabile, ND’s leading goal scorer this season, beat Cole Blazer for the game-tying goal. Costabile had missed Saturday’s game against Duke due to injury and didn’t start in this game. He still managed to fire off six shots, none more important than this one with 42 seconds remaining. Then Notre Dame won the ensuing faceoff, one of their rare wins in the game, and after a timeout by the Irish that saved them from what appeared to be a turnover, Ryder Garnsey, Notre Dame’s points leader this season, scored his only goal of the game with 15 seconds remaining. Ballgame.
I can’t help but think that this game turned on two critical moments. First, there was what appeared to me to be a horrible tripping call on Melillo on the opening face off of the second half. The ball was loose, it was skittering around, and Melillo made a full extension dive, stick and all, for the ball. He landed, and a Notre Dame player tripped over him. Boom, flag. Did the guy trip over Melillo? 100% absolutely. Did Melillo do literally anything to try to trip the guy? Nope, he was completely playing the ball. 50 seconds later, Notre Dame scored to tie the game at four.
The other big moment came at the end of the third quarter, when Notre Dame got hit with two pushing fouls in quick succession. That gave Marquette a two man advantage for 30 seconds with 36 seconds left in the quarter. MU did manage a great shot in the EMO, but it missed wide with about 15 seconds left in the quarter, which is fine..... but then they did squat all as the clock burned away. There was an attempt at a bang-bang pass/quick shot combo from about 20 yards out to the far post of the net as time was expiring, but the pass missed the intended target and there was no shot attempt. It felt at the time like an incredibly missed opportunity to not even attempt a second shot while up two men for another 10 seconds or so, and in retrospect, it seems almost worse.
Lost in the defeat will be the play of Cole Blazer, who made eight saves for Marquette. Three of them came in the fourth quarter as the Golden Eagles attempted to maintain their slim lead. If not for a couple of inches one way or another in the final minute, Blazer comes out of this one as a hero for fending off the Irish attack late in the game.
Up Next: Marquette will have to pick themselves up off the mat in a hurry from this one, as they’ll be hosting Providence in the home finale on Saturday afternoon. At 2-1 in Big East play with just the Friars and Denver left on the slate, MU needs at least one more win to guarantee themselves a slot in the conference tournament, and beating Denver on the road will be no walk in the park. PC is coming in with losses in six of their last seven games, including an 8-4 road defeat against Georgetown this past Saturday.