I can’t even pretend to try and preview this game from a Marquette perspective.
MU men’s lacrosse comes in with a record of 2-3 after three straight losses, and it’s essentially been one weird story after another this season. First, a rampaging start and an easy glide to the finish against Bellarmine. Then, another hot start but a much bigger push back from Jacksonville to move to 2-0 on the season. That was followed with an outing against Detroit Mercy where head coach Joe Amplo straight up said that his team was bullied by the Titans, falling behind by nine goals before finally losing by three.
Things seemed to turn around after that, and while Marquette lost to #9 Ohio State, that’s a relatively understandable loss and the Golden Eagles were competitive with the Buckeyes for the full 60 minutes. That brings us to this past Saturday, where Amplo suspended 19 players, including the entire starting offense from the OSU game, for a violation of team rules. Marquette had a chance to beat Cleveland State, but the third year Vikings showed what they’re made of down the stretch and held on to win.
That’s the quick summary of the first five games of Marquette’s season. Now they go on the road to play a game just 72 hours after that Cleveland State loss. 72 hours after Amplo issued all of those suspensions. There was nothing to indicate that the suspensions would last longer than that one game, but you can’t help but wonder what will carry over in the coaching staff’s minds from Saturday. How will that change the rotations on both ends of the field? Will it change anything at all? Is it back to business as usual? How will the suspended guys handle their return to action after Amplo was already frustrated with their on field performances just two weeks ago?
I can’t possibly begin to put any answers to any of these questions. Not until the Golden Eagles take the field again. We’ll see what happens.
Game #6: At Robert Morris Colonials (1-4)
Marquette is 2-1 all time against Robert Morris, with all three contests coming in the last three seasons. MU won the first two meetings, one at home and one on the road, but the Colonials took last year’s game at Valley Fields by a resounding 12-2 margin. RMU scored the first seven goals of that game to give you an idea of what happened there.
When the 2019 season kicked off, this game had the potential to be a notable non-conference game when it came to the national picture for Division 1 lacrosse. Robert Morris and Marquette were #1 and #2 in the Receiving Votes department in the Inside Lacrosse preseason media poll. Thus, you would expect that one and/or both teams should probably be ranked by the time this game rolled around in early March, and it could end up having some kind of impact on the at-large picture for the NCAA tournament.
Well, that seems to be out the flipping window.
Marquette has their own problems to worry about as we talked about above, but Robert Morris isn’t a picture of fun and sunshine, either. Never was a problem more apparent than in RMU’s season opener when they lost 27-10 to then-#9 Penn State. That’s not a “oh, well, we lost on the road” type of score. They gave up twenty-seven goals in the first 60 minutes of their season. It was 18-3 at halftime.
They’ve proceeded to lose what amounts to squeakers against two more ranked teams — Georgetown and High Point — since then, but it has to be pointed out that RMU led both of those games after one quarter. Their win came against the Bellarmine team that Marquette handled easily in MU’s opener, and the really bad result of the season came last time out for the Colonials. After beating RMU 12-8, Canisius is now 3-3 on the season. Look, you lose close games against ranked teams, oh well. You lose in hilariously bad fashion to a team that’s averaging nearly 19 goals a game and is now ranked #1 in the country? Oh well. Lose to a middling Canisius team? You’re probably in a bit of hot water in terms of what people thought was going to happen with your season.
Robert Morris has two 10 goal scorers already on the season in Tyson Gibson and Matt Schmidt. Gibson’s six assists are tied for the team lead with Austin Popovich in that category as well, and thus he leads the team in points. While those are the names to keep an eye on, it’s important to remember that RMU scored 12 goals against Marquette last year with two guys leading the way with two each. They’ve got five guys averaging at least four shots a game right now, so they’re going to come firing from all angles.
Alex Heger has started all five games this season for RMU, and he’s played all but 25 minutes. 15 of those came in the Penn State game, but Heger had already allowed 23 goals by the time he got lifted. As such, his stats kind of stink. 15.38 goals per 60 minutes played and he’s only saving 44% of shots on goal. It’s probably worth mentioning that Heger did make 11 saves against PSU, but that still only gives him a save percentage of 32%. Given that, 44% on the season is actually pretty great.