Who’s ready for the seventh season of Marquette men’s lacrosse??
It’s that time of the year again, and things are looking up for the Golden Eagles after last year’s 6-8 season. Tanner Thomson (20 goals, 14 assists in 2017) returns to the lineup after missing the 2018 season with an injury, and his offensive skill set should be a major boon to Marquette. Last year, John Wagner was forced to carry a heavy load for the Golden Eagles, and it worked to an amazingly absurd degree. In the process of assembling just the fourth 30 goal season in Marquette history, Wagner scored five game winning goals, all in the final 10 seconds of regulation or overtime. In short, while crafting one of the greatest offensive performances the program has seen in its short lifetime, defenses knew the ball had to be going to him in the most important moments of the game and he still came through with the winner anyway. It can’t be overstated that Wagner had five of those goals and Marquette only had six wins as a team.
In addition to Thomson’s return, Marquette adds graduate transfer Andrew Romagnoli to the roster. Romagnoli actually started his collegiate career with Marquette before transferring to Delaware and leading the Blue Hens in points, goals, and assists in 2017. His firepower gives MU head coach Joe Amplo another dimension to work with as the Golden Eagles look to return to the NCAA tournament.
While Nick Grill, Jackson Ehlert, and Brendan Connolly all return from last year’s starting defensive lineup, the man behind them won’t be the same. Cole Blazer is gone to graduation after establishing himself as the best goalie in MU history, and it seems that transfer John Hulsman will be his likely replacement. Hulsman was the best goalie in the Southern Conference a year ago, and he did that as a freshman for Bellarmine. He’s now the most experience collegiate goalie on the MU roster in terms of minutes played, and Amplo gave him the nod to start MU’s exhibition games against Maryland and Johns Hopkins, both of whom are preseason top 10 teams.
Marquette is earning votes in the preseason Inside Lacrosse media poll, and they’re ranked #19 in the USILA coaches poll. The general consensus amongst people who know a thing or two about a thing or two is that MU will be an NCAA tournament caliber team this season. Joe Amplo has gone one step further with this thinking, and he already has a bag packed to go to the Final Four over Memorial Day weekend. Is he getting a little ahead of himself, considering that Marquette is 0-2 in NCAA tournament games in their very young history? Maybe. But the message to the team about what he thinks they can do this season is very clear. The 14 game path to the postseason begins on Saturday, and all we can do is wait to see if Amplo is on the right track.
Game #1: vs Bellarmine Knights (0-1)
Marquette is 2-3 all time against Bellarmine. The Knights took the last meeting, which was in Michigan as part of the Midwest Lacrosse Classic last season. In fact, Bellarmine’s last two wins in the series came at wildly inopportune moments for the Golden Eagles. They lost to BU 9-3 while ranked #13 in the country in 2015, and then lost 7-6 in double overtime last year just two days after knocking off #4 Ohio State in the MLC.
Bellarmine comes into Saturday’s game with their season already underway. The Knights opened things up last weekend with a 7-6 overtime home loss to Wagner. It was a back and forth affair with a couple of runs early and it looked like BU might be able to swing the win at Owlsley B. Frazier Stadium with a goal from Stephen Votto to make it 6-5 less than a minute into the fourth quarter. Wagner evened it out with nine minutes left, though, and the Seahawks snapped one in with 1:17 left in the extra session to head back to Staten Island with the win.
Morgan Macko and Landon Trout both scored two goals for the Knights after finishing second and third on the team in goals and points a year ago, and they’re the top two returning scorers as well. Bellarmine doesn’t have anyone on the preseason all-Southern Conference team, so we’re kind of lacking on people to point at in terms of things to know about the team at this point of the season. Ian Reilly picked up the start in net in head coach Jim Mitchell’s first game in charge in Louisville, so it seems likely that he’ll get the nod again after playing 150 minutes in three appearances a year ago for the Knights. Reilly had a hell of a game, making 13 saves against the Seahawks, but that just wasn’t enough to propel his team to the win.
Bellarmine was picked to finish sixth in the eight team SoCon this season. If Marquette sees themselves as a Big East title contender and NCAA tournament player, then it would seem that this is a game that the Golden Eagles should and/or need to win. Obviously, things have not always gone as smoothly as hoped for against the Knights in the past, so let’s keep our fingers crossed.