Eight straight goals and 26 minutes of hanging on for dear life was the difference on Saturday at Cooper Field as Marquette men’s lacrosse went into Washington, D.C., and came out with a 9-8 win over #14 ranked Georgetown in the Big East opener for both teams. Marquette is 1-0 and alone in first place as no one else has gotten started yet, and 5-3 overall on the season. It was just the second loss of the year for the Hoyas, who drop to 7-2 overall and 0-1 in the league.
Defense was the name of the game in the first quarter, as the two teams combined for 17 shots, seven saves, and just three goals. GU’s Jake Carraway scored in the front half of the quarter while Tanner Thompson evened it for Marquette before Lucas Wittenberg put the Hoyas up 2-1 late in the frame. A little on the low scoring side, but hey, that’s what happens sometimes.
Another thing that happens sometimes is Marquette scoring all six goals that hit the net in the second quarter to go up 7-2 at halftime. What a wild sport! Andrew Romagnoli kicked it off 53 seconds in, while Peter Henkhaus put one in with 24 seconds left in the half to wrap up the scoring for that section. The Golden Eagles used domination on faceoffs to control the frame, with freshman Thomas Washington going 5-2 in the quarter. It’s not like Marquette spent the full 15 minutes with the ball in their offensive end, either. MU only outshot Georgetown by two, 12-10, but only three Hoya shots found their way on frame, with all three saved by MU’s John Hulsman.
The third quarter started off like the second, with Thomson and Romagnoli pushing the scoring run to eight straight goals with markers in the first four minutes. That made it 9-2, and the Golden Eagles hadn’t allowed a Georgetown goal in over 22 minutes. While it’s important to recognize that the scoring run by MU was ultimately responsible for the win, it’s equally important to realize that Georgetown was going to throw a few more goals in eventually.
That started at the 10:39 mark of the third quarter, less than a minute after Romagnoli’s wormburner of a goal, as Daniel Bucaro got his first goal of the game. Bucaro, GU’s leading scorer, scored again 80 seconds later. He was officially assisted by Carraway and unofficially assisted by a slashing penalty on MU’s Nick Grill. 9-4 after a couple of quick ones, but no reason to worry, right? Right. No worrying even after Wittenberg wrapped up scoring for the third quarter to make it 9-5. Fifteen minutes of lacrosse, and a four goal lead. This is fine.
All Marquette had to do was be patient and careful, right? This worked, for the most part. It took until the 5:32 mark of the final quarter for Wittenberg and Bucaro to draw Georgetown within two goals at 9-7. It had been more than 22 minutes since Marquette had scored, but they just needed to get through the final five minutes safely.
Except they didn’t. Declan McDermott got his sixth goal of the season 72 seconds after Bucaro’s third of the game, and now it was a one goal game with 4:20 to go. That’s a problem. Thankfully, Washington came up big again with a faceoff win thanks to a ground ball by Aaron Joseph, and Marquette could burn time thanks to the shot clock. MU was able to burn 59 seconds before Connor McClelland got a shot off that was saved by GU’s Owen McElroy. That meant Hoyas ball with 3:21 to go. Officially danger time.... but Marquette got things a little ragged for Georgetown, and Anthony Courcelle provoked one of the most beneficial turnovers and ground balls that you’ll ever see. It’s not that Courcelle got it free from Wittenberg, it’s the fact that he knocked it about five yards backwards behind Wittenberg in the process, which allowed Noah Richard a full head of steam to run and snag the ground ball on the move towards MU’s attacking end.
Two minutes left, but Marquette could only burn 80 seconds of it safely. Well, that was the situation when Richard picked it up at least. When Ryan Fazio’s shot with 56 seconds remaining was saved but not caught by McElroy, Romagnoli came up with the ball with 53 seconds remaining and no more shot clock. One final scramble as GU’s defense attacked ended with a ground ball by Jack Zerillo and a timeout by Joe Amplo to calm things down, and MU was able to play long distance keep away to close out the win.
It may have felt like it was rapidly slipping away from Marquette, but Lacrosse Reference’s win probability model says that time was on MU’s side the whole time.
Tanner Thomson led the way for Marquette with three goals on the day, but you could make an argument that Luke Anderson’s two goals in the second quarter were the two most important goals for the Golden Eagles. Fazio and John Wagner added two assists to the day as Fazio was able to add a goal of his own to tie Thomson for the team lead in points on the day. Hey, think about this: Marquette won a one goal game without John Wagner scoring a goal. What a long time it’s been since last season when he had five game winners in overtime or the final 10 seconds of regulation. John Hulsman did a fantastic job in net, making 12 saves. I’m not sure which end of things was better, as he made four stops in the first quarter to keep things close and two in the fourth to help preserve the lead.
How about some highlights, courtesy of the Big East Digital Network and GoMarquette.com?
Up Next: It’s another road game for the Golden Eagles, as they have three roadies and two home games in their five Big East games this season. They’ll be in the Philly area next week Saturday to take on Villanova. The Wildcats are 4-4 on the year after snapping a three game skid this weekend with a 12-8 road win over Fairfield. They’ll visit Brown on Monday before hosting MU on Saturday.