For 34 minutes on Friday night in North Carolina, it looked like Marquette men’s lacrosse was going to give #3 ranked Duke the fight of their lives. Bob Pelton scored for the Golden Eagles with 11:49 left in the third quarter, pulling MU within two at 6-4. With most of the second half yet to be played, that’s a perfectly acceptable score, especially when you’re trying to pull off the upset on the road.
And then.... well.... yeah. Duke remembered that they’re Duke.
While Justin Guterding had been carrying the Blue Devil offense to that point with four goals and an assist, it was his supporting cast that took care of business from there on out. Duke went on an 11-0 run over the next 24 minutes with just two goals from Guterding, as the Blue Devils ran Marquette out of Koskinen Stadium by a final score of 17-5. Marquette drops to 6-6 on the year, and 0-6 all time against Duke. It’s the second straight year where the Golden Eagles have allowed massive runs by the Blue Devils in the third and fourth quarters in order to secure the victory.
While that’s no fun in terms of a result, I don’t know if there’s anything important to take away from this. It’s not like there’s some kind of major underlying stat that explains what happened in the third quarter. Sure, Marquette had five turnovers, but Duke had three of their own. Yeah, Marquette got outshot, but it was only a 10-5 margin. 10 shots in a quarter might be more than MU usually allows, but it’s also not crazy. Ground balls were mostly even, 10-8 favoring Duke. The fourth quarter stats are even closer, and that frame was even more heavily tilted towards the Blue Devils on the scoreboard.
They scored on their shots because they’re good at lacrosse. If Marquette’s goals had been more spread out, breaking up three goal bursts by the Blue Devils on their way to a 17-5 loss, would it have been terribly surprising? Not really. Duke’s pretty great in general under head coach John Danowski, and they’re on track to contend for a national championship this year. Meanwhile, Marquette’s trying to battle through being crazy young on offense by way of regular roster attrition and a few particularly poorly timed injuries. It is what is is, and I’m not particularly bothered by it one way or the other.
Up Next: Part of why we can just walk away from this result is because it doesn’t matter for the Golden Eagles. All that matters is locking up a Big East tournament berth and taking a crack at winning that thing for a third consecutive season. MU has one regular season game left to play, and that will be next Saturday at Denver. The Pioneers are currently ranked #4 in the country, and have a record of 10-2 overall and 4-0 in Big East play. A Marquette win in this game will knot the two teams at 4-1 in league action and give them a shared regular season title, although that would give MU the #1 seed in the Big East tournament by way of the tiebreaker.