At the 7:57 mark of the fourth quarter on Saturday afternoon, Ryan Nawrocki scored the third of three straight goals for Providence, and the second in the last 12 seconds. That put the Friars up 10-6 after Marquette had pulled within one at 7-6 on the first goal of the fourth quarter.
That 12 second whammy sure felt like the door had swung shut on Marquette.
When Kevin McCordic scored with 2:26 left to push PC’s lead back to four at 11-7, it definitely felt like the door to victory was closed. Sure, weird things happen, but it had taken Marquette more than 56 minutes to score seven goals. It seemed wildly unlikely that the Golden Eagles would find four goals to even force overtime in less than three minutes.
It only took Marquette 97 seconds to score all four goals.
Weird things happened.
MU scored — and I swear I’m not kidding, I watched it live — four times in the final 97 seconds of regulation, including Griffin Fleming’s buzzer beater, to force an extra four minutes at Valley Fields. And, of course, because Overtime Is Wagner Time (we should really think about getting shirts made), John Wagner scored his fourth overtime game winner of the season just 14 seconds into the extra frame, giving the Golden Eagles the 12-11 victory over Providence.
I watched it live, I’m recapping it now, and it still makes absolutely no goddamned sense.
I mean, watch the win probability graph video from Lacrosse Reference. Providence had a 98.3% chance of winning.
Here's the win probability chart for Marquette against Providence, enjoy... pic.twitter.com/NyjL6rfpVx— LaxRef Bot (@laxrefbot) April 15, 2018
Perhaps making it even more completely absurd, two of the final four goals of regulation came off the stick of Wagner. I mean, how? HOW? When Wagner scored to make it 11-8 with 1:37 to go, well, whatever. When he scored with 36 seconds left to make it 11-10? What? How? What was Providence thinking? How did they not just obliterate him to prevent the shot? It defies all logic.
Still, even after Wagner scored with 36 seconds left, Marquette still had to win a faceoff to tie the game. Believe it or not, even though Zachary Melillo finished the game with 16 face-off wins in 26 attempts, he lost the most crucial draw of the game to that point. Somehow, and I still really don’t know how, Providence didn’t just run around with the ball for 36 seconds. They tried to make a pass with 10 seconds to go for some insane reason, and, well, this happened.
Fleming's tying goal! pic.twitter.com/NgdjrE127Q— Marquette Lacrosse (@MarquetteMLax) April 14, 2018
Luke Anderson just stabbed the ball out of the air, like you or I would grab a leaf fluttering by in the breeze, and he hucked a pass down the field. Somehow, he hit Griffin Fleming perfectly with the pass, the PC defender closest to Fleming fell down, Fleming turned, fired, and beat Tate Boyce low.
I mean, what? I thought that the Ohio State game winner against Jacksonville earlier this season was insane. This was the exact same play, except it completed a four goal rally instead of merely being the deciding goal in a tightly contest game. Totally bananas.
That gave Melillo a second crack at the most crucial face-off of the game, and he won this one easily. He quickly stepped across the restraining line, and after the world’s most obvious timeout by MU head coach Joe Amplo, Wagner rolled up top and ripped a goal past Boyce. It’s Wagner’s fourth overtime game winning goal this season, and his fifth game winning goal of the season, all of which have come in the final 10 seconds of regulation or overtime.
We have neglected, up to this point, to even mention Bob Pelton, without whom none of this would have been possible. Pelton is the forgotten goal scorer of the day, registering his lone goal on the afternoon with 62 seconds left in regulation. It was still monumentally crucial to the comeback, though, as scoring twice in 62 seconds is much easier than twice in 52 or 42. Also, we can’t ignore the delightful side note to Pelton’s goal. It would seem that every member of the men’s lacrosse team has pre-selected their goal music. Usually, the choices don’t stand out all that much. Pelton’s does, though. For whatever reason, Bob Pelton’s choice is the theme song from Curb Your Enthusiasm. Imagine being Providence. You had a four goal lead with 2:26 to play. There’s now 62 seconds left, you’ve given up two goals in the last 35 seconds which has cut your lead in half, and Marquette’s faceoff guy has been shredding you all day. On top of all of that, this song is playing while you attempt to regroup and lock down your win:
YEAH. Pelton managed to accidentally on purpose point out the objectively absurd proceedings by scoring to get that song played at that exact moment. I don’t want to confirm that it affected PC over the next 76 seconds, but I also can’t help but think that it did.
Perhaps the craziest part about the entire game is that Tate Boyce was manhandling the Marquette offense up until that point. Boyce, who is the likely favorite for Big East Goalkeeper of the Year, made nine saves in the game and was a major reason why Marquette was down four in the first place. The Golden Eagles just could not get shots past Boyce..... until he didn’t make a save at all in the final 111 seconds of the game. Five shots on goal, five goals. All in a row.
How about a full highlight package, courtesy of GoMarquette.com?
It was an amazing victory for the Golden Eagles, and it radically altered the rest of their season. Thanks to those five straight goals to beat the Friars, Marquette currently sits in second place in the Big East at 3-1 with one game left to play. They can’t finish any lower in the standings than fifth, and the top four teams in the league qualify for the conference tournament. I believe Marquette has not quite yet clinched a spot, and since the official MU recap doesn’t mention it, I’m pretty sure my math is accurate. It’s close, though, and definitely much more likely than it would be if Marquette were 2-2 right now and matching three other teams in the loss column.
More importantly, the win over Providence sets up what seems to be a regularly occurring situation. For whatever reason, Marquette keeps drawing Denver as the final regular season game for both squads. With that being the case, Marquette’s regular season finale on April 28th in Colorado will have the Big East regular season title and the #1 seed in the conference tournament at stake, regardless of what the Pioneers do next week on the road against Providence. Either MU/DU settles a 3-1 tie, or Marquette will be playing to force a 4-1 tie and give the Golden Eagles the #1 seed in the league tournament by way of the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Up Next: That’s not Marquette’s next game, though. They’ll take a break from Big East action between now and the Denver game, and next Friday night, they’ll be in Durham, North Carolina, for the yearly contest against Duke. The Blue Devils are 11-2 overall this season after picking up an 18-13 victory against Virginia on Saturday. Duke was ranked #5 in the country in last week’s media top 20 poll, so it will be an uphill battle for Marquette to try and pick up the first win in program history against the Blue Devils.