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Marquette Men’s Lacrosse Preview: at Jacksonville Dolphins

The Golden Eagles take to the road for the first time this season.

Dolphin Gives Birth At Six Flags Animal Discovery Park
Look, dolphins!
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Shoutout to Marquette men’s lacrosse for getting to escape the wintery disaster that Milwaukee has turned into over the past few weeks. Friday’s forecast for Jacksonville, Florida, is a high of 77 and a low of 55. It’s going to be delightful weather for lacrosse, even if that 10% chance of precipitation comes through.

One thing we know for sure is that Marquette doesn’t need lovely weather to score a few goals this season. The Golden Eagles averaged just short of eight goals per game a year ago, but in their season opener against Bellarmine, Marquette scored on their first three shots of the game and popped out to a 7-2 lead by the end of the first period. I want to make sure you understand this completely: Marquette would sometimes only score seven goals in a game last year in order to average less than eight per game, and against Bellarmine, they had seven goals before 12 minutes had wound off the clock.

That. Is. Awesome.

Now, yes, yes, yes. It’s just one game, Bellarmine might not be good this year, blah blah blah blah. I get your points. You are not wrong, and your potential significant others all find you to be very attractive. Here’s what I find to be most important about Marquette’s attack in the first quarter (and yes, I’m only looking at the first quarter here. The whole game shifted after that as Joe Amplo emptied his bench and BU’s coach changed goalies). Ready? The average time of possession by Marquette before scoring was less than 30 seconds. Marquette twice scored goals less than five seconds after gaining possession according to the play-by-play rundown, and the average is dragged waaaay far up by a 68 second possession. Everything else? 40 seconds and down.

Why is this important? Because Division 1 lacrosse has an 80 second shot clock this season, and perhaps more relevant to the point here, you only have 20 seconds after taking possession to clear the ball into your offensive end. After being an amazing deliberate team a year ago, Marquette is taking advantage of the health of Tanner Thomson (two goals vs BU) and the transfer of Andrew Romagnoli (one goal on Marquette’s first shot of the season) to create new and exciting offensive opportunities. There’s a lot of other bits and pieces to help explain what’s going on (hello Peter Henkhaus and Holden Patterson), but Marquette looks like they can be a much more dynamic and high powered offense this year. Pair that with Joe Amplo’s trademark stout defense with all three starting close defenders back from last season, and this could be a very fun campaign for the Golden Eagles.

Game #2: at Jacksonville Dolphins (0-2)

Date: Friday, February 15, 2019
Time: 6pm Central
Location: D.B. Milne Field, Jacksonville, FL
Streaming: ESPN+, which means you need a subscription.
Live Stats: JUDolphins.com
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteMLax

Marquette is 3-2 all time against Jacksonville. The Golden Eagles have won each of the last three contests in the series, including last year when John Wagner scored one of his five “last 10 seconds of regulation or in overtime” game winning goals. It was, in fact, the last 10 seconds of regulation when Wagner potted his third goal of the game to give MU the 11-10 victory. Last year’s game was the first time that the two sides met in Milwaukee, with the first four contests all coming in Jacksonville.

As you can see, the Dolphins are out to an 0-2 start. They fell 9-8 on the road to Detroit-Mercy in their opener. That one took a three goal rally from JU, including two in the final 45 seconds in order to get it to one goal, and the Dolphins had a chance to tie it after winning the draw with 32 seconds remaining. In their home opener, they got pantsed by Duke, with the Blue Devils scoring the final six goals of the game to pull away after Jacksonville pulled within one at 9-8 with 7:47 left in the third quarter.

Regardless of all of that, Jacksonville was picked to finish fourth in the eight team Southern Conference this season, and JU actually earned a first place vote. They were only 12 points off the pace set by league favorite Richmond, so the SoCon might be bananas this season. Eric Applegate is one of Jacksonville’s two preseason all-SoCon honorees, and he’s off to a good start. The senior midfielder leads the ‘Phins in points through two games, getting six points on two goals and four assists. Bo BowHunter and Evan Tyler have both recorded four goals, so Nick Grill and the Marquette defense are going to have to keep their eyes on them.

Senior defender Dixon Smith is JU’s other all-SoCon honoree. He’s tied with two other gents for the team lead in ground balls at six already, and his five caused turnovers also lead the team. I’ll tell you what: poking free two+ turnovers per game is pretty darn great, so Marquette’s attackers are going to need to be careful. Hunter Sells has been the goalie all the way through two games for head coach John Galloway after making 13 starts a year ago. Thanks to the goals from Duke, he’s got a goals-against of 12.00 thus far, but he’s stopping 51% of shots on goal. That’s a pretty strong number, so MU is either going to need to pour on the shots or be incredibly precise with their aim.