Two games in to the 2019 season, and Marquette men’s lacrosse has already scored a full 26% as many goals as they scored in 14 games a year ago. That can’t be seen as anything short of a very positive development for the Golden Eagles. This is a squad that has their eyes on big things in the post season (head coach Joe Amplo literally has a bag packed for the Final Four already), and big time offensive production has to be a big component of that. Tanner Thomson has made a splash in his return from missing 2018 due to injury with three goals and an assist already, and grad transfer Andrew Romagnoli has jumped right into the mix. He literally scored a goal on his (and Marquette’s) first shot of the season, and he’s up to five points (3G, 2A) in MU’s first two games.
So that’s all good news. You’re probably expecting a “ON THE OTHER HAND” panic attack about the defense here, because that’s the obvious set up. Yes, Jacksonville tallied 12 goals against Marquette last time out, but the Dolphins are a frisky bunch that was earning preseason national attention to start the year off. They’ve got some guys who can do some things, and it’s not particularly worrying. Neither is the fact that Marquette did let off the gas in both of their first two games. In the first one, that was more of the result of Amplo emptying the bench against Bellarmine, whereas MU getting outscored 10-7 over the final 32 minutes by Jacksonville was just a case of the ‘Phins showing their mettle to the final horn. Fact of the matter is that JU scored with 3:03 to go to pull within two goals, but that was the end of the scoring for the night for both squads.
All in all, it was a quality first two games for Marquette. You’re always going to have a few things to iron out as you start to wade into a season. Saturday’s game in the Valley will be Marquette’s final tune-up game of the year. Are they favored against Detroit Mercy? Almost assuredly. But there’s a ranked Ohio State squad looming next weekend, and a trip to Robert Morris and a home date with Michigan won’t be picnics as we get into the first half of March. This should be and hopefully will be a good game for MU to set the tone for what’s coming down the road at them.
Game #3: vs Detroit Mercy Titans (1-1)
Marquette is 6-0 all time against Detroit Mercy with a meeting in each and every year of MU’s time in Division 1. This will be just the third time that the two teams have played in Milwaukee, and the last time was an 8-6 nailbiter. Last year’s meeting was 13-6 favoring the Golden Eagles where they jumped out to a 7-2 lead and coasted in for the win.
I’m willing to believe that Detroit Mercy might cause a few problems for the Golden Eagles this time around. Their win this season came against the Jacksonville squad that never quite went away against Marquette last week, and it was only 9-8 because the Dolphins scored twice in the final minute. After two weeks off, the Titans made the trip down to South Bend for their second game of the year and ended up with 19-6 loss to a top 10 Notre Dame team. Look, that sounds bad, sure, but it was tied at four goals each midway through the second quarter. Does that make things better or worse as to how it turned out? I don’t know for sure, but that’s 25 minutes of lacrosse where a top 10 team had no idea what to do with UDM.
The Titans were picked to finish second in the MAAC this season, earning a first place vote and finishing just five points off the pace set by first place Monmouth. They have three preseason all-MAAC team honorees, and thus far, all three make sense. Matthew Vangalen leads UDM in points so far with six, and he has the team lead in goals (4) and assists (tied at 2) as well. Defender Alex Akins has four ground balls already on the year, and face-off man Alex Jarzembowski has won 53% of his draws on the year. Jarzembowski was just 10-for-26 against Notre Dame, so that may be something that Marquette can exploit.
Sophomore Logan Shamblin started every game for the Titans a year ago, and he’s played every minute so far this season, too. That Notre Dame game has kind of submarined his stats (13.50 goals-against average, .449 save percentage), but he did make 15 saves against Jacksonville to preserve that victory.