After a disappointing second half against #10 Notre Dame on Wednesday afternoon, Marquette men’s lacrosse is back in action on Saturday. They’re back on the road, and they’ve got something on the line.
Here’s what the Big East standings look like right now.
Villanova — 2-0
Marquette — 2-1
Denver — 1-1
Providence — 1-1
Georgetown — 1-2
St. John’s — 0-2
If Marquette picks up the win on Saturday afternoon, that would give them a record of 3-1 with just one league game left to play. It would also give them a tiebreaker victory if needed against Providence, Georgetown, and St. John’s. At that point, even if a four-way tie for fourth place were to happen, Marquette still wins that tiebreaker with a 3-0 record against the group. Thus, and you can triple check my math here, Marquette can clinch a conference tournament berth with a victory.
That’s pretty cool.
With Wednesday afternoon’s loss to the Irish in the books, Marquette’s chances of sneaking into an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament are at an absolute zero right now. They weren’t good anyway after losses to Detroit Mercy and Cleveland State, but with Notre Dame, Duke, and Denver still on the schedule, anything was possible. But not any more. MU’s only path to the national championship tournament now lies through the Big East tournament title. I doubt that’s the kind of thing that head coach Joe Amplo wanted to happen when he packed a bag for the Final Four over the summer as a motivational tactic for his team, but that’s where we are now.
Since that’s the only way in for the Golden Eagles, it’s then crucially important to lock up a spot in the four team tournament. They can do that on Saturday, and more importantly, they can do it and avoid the pressure of needing to beat Denver in the regular season for the first time ever in this year’s final home game of the year.
I’m saying there’s stakes here, and it should be fun.
Big East Game #4: at Providence Friars (5-6, 1-1 Big East)
Marquette is 5-1 all time against Providence. The lone Friars victory came in Rhode Island in the 2017 regular season, but MU avenged that loss in the Big East championship game. Marquette has now won two straight against PC, and four of Marquette’s wins are by just one goal.
When you’ve lost two of your last three games, does it still count as “bouncing back” to 5-6 on the year? See, Providence opened up 2019 with a 2-4 start, so even after losing to Drexel and Georgetown. So, they’re 3-2 in their last five, with a 1-2 mark in their last three. That’s still kind of bouncing back, right? Maybe? Kind of? Even though they needed a fourth quarter rally to take a lead on St. John’s before the Red Storm tied it with 2:20 left and then PC won in overtime?
Providence’s issue is that they’re the least productive offense in the Big East, generating just 11.09 goals per game. Well, they’re actually tied for least productive, as Villanova’s in the exact same spot as the Friars. Lacrosse Reference has PC ranked #47 out of 73 Division 1 teams in terms of offensive efficiency, which is, y’know, not great. Their defense, though, is great. LaxRef has them at #8 in the country in that regard, and they’re giving up just 9.78 goals per 60 minutes played. This game may turn into a struggle on both ends of the field, as MU’s efficiency strength is on offense, while they have problems on defense.
The ever popular Nick Hatzipetrakos is the offensive leader for Providence this season, knocking in 33 goals and throwing around five assists for 38 points on the year. He ranks third in the Big East in goals per game at 3.00, and is tied for third in points at 3.45. He’s the only Friars player in the top 10 in either category, so goal #1 is shutting him down. Brendan Kearns is a talented chap at shooting and passing (20G, 11A), while Tim Hinrichs ranks seventh in the Big East in assists per game thus far this year with 15 total in 10 games played. Hinrichs is on a hot streak, tallying three points against st. John’s and four against Georgetown, so MU will have to find a way to keep track of him and Hatzipetrakos at the same time.
Familiar face Tate Boyce will be the starter in net for the Friars. The Big East Preseason Goalkeeper of the Year is sitting just a shade under 10 goals per 60 minutes of action while playing all but 19 minutes on the year. His .570 save percentage is the best in the Big East, so Marquette will have to be crafty when it comes to launching shots on goal in order to sneak them past Boyce.