A six point day from Tanner Thomson and a 28 minute defensive stand were the keys to victory for Marquette men’s lacrosse on Saturday, as they beat St. John’s 12-8 at Valley Fields. The Golden Eagles are now 6-4 on the year and 2-1 in Big East play and are inching closer towards locking up a conference tournament berth.
Things started out great for Marquette, as Tanner Thomson knocked in two goals in the first five minutes of the game. That’s a 2-0 start, but things got weird for the Golden Eagles from there. St. John’s got the next four goals down through the rest of the first quarter, including two of five on the day for Colin Duffy to take a 4-2 lead. It’s one thing for St. John’s to be scoring goals, but it was what was happening on the other end for MU that was the real problem. Possessions just kept ending in the weirdest manner possible. Passes would get overthrown and thus out of bounds, shots would get tipped by MU sticks and go out of bounds, passes went into traffic in front of the net and ended up snagged by the Red Storm... just a whole bunch of mess that let St. John’s run over and set up their offense over and over and over.
Things quieted down in the second quarter, with neither team scoring for the first half of the period. MU’s John Wagner got things rolling at the 7:52 mark with a goal made possible by a slashing penalty on SJU’s Kyle McBride. That goal was the first of eight straight for the Golden Eagles. They ripped off six straight in the second quarter for a 6-0 margin in the frame, including two in the final two minutes by Andrew Romagnoli, and then tacked on two more to start off the third. I really do mean “start off the third” as both Holden Patterson and Thomson scored in the first 52 seconds of the second half. Patterson’s goal was a teensy bit of luck, as SJU’s Pat Smyth took a 30 second pushing penalty with two seconds left in the first half, giving MU 28 seconds of man-up time to start the third.
That eight goal run had Marquette up 10-4 with 14:08 left in the third quarter, and while that was crucially important to the game, it might not have been the most important thing. St. John’s scored with 2:11 left in the first quarter, and then didn’t score at all in the second. They still didn’t score again until there was 3:46 left in the third. Marquette’s 8-0 run was technically still active when Joe Madsen scored to make it 10-5. That meant MU had held the Red Storm without a goal for over 28 minutes. 28 straight minutes with no goals from the Johnnies in a 60 minute lacrosse game is an amazing feat by the Marquette defense. A big part of that was eight saves from MU’s John Hulsman during that time. St. John’s was getting shots in, but the sophomore stood tall in the net to give his shooters on the other end a chance to turn things in their favor.
The 28 minute stretch was the big part, but Marquette held St. John’s without another goal until there was just 5:54 left in the game. That’s over 12 minutes without a goal at a big point of the game. St. John’s had time to throw some goals together to get closer, but they didn’t. Marquette got a goal from Connoe McClelland in the middle of that, so by the time Duffy scored with 5:54 left, it was still 11-6 favoring MU. Thomson scored 63 seconds later for the Golden Eagles, and that was pretty much that. Duffy would tack on two more in the final three minutes, but they were ultimately meaningless to the final result.
One part of the turnaround in the second quarter that I didn’t mention was Joe Amplo’s move to change up his faceoff man. Jared Hershman was doing fine, winning 4-of-7 draws in the first quarter. However, when Thomas Washington started taking draws in the second, it was a whole new world. Washington lost the first draw of the second quarter, but then won the next seven draws of the game, all the way through Thomson’s goal early in the third. 10-4 Marquette, and a big reason for it was Washington’s work on the draws. Scoring is one thing, but playing make it/take it lacrosse is a whole different thing.
With the win, Marquette now holds tiebreakers against the fifth and sixth place teams in the Big East right now. The Golden Eagles have just two games left to go in conference play, and if my math is correct, they can clinch one of the four conference tournament berths with a win over Providence next week Saturday. Marquette is 2-1, and a win over the Friars would mean that they couldn’t finish worse than holding two losses. Beating the Friars would give PC two losses, just like Georgetown and St. John’s already have.
How about some highlights, courtesy of GoMarquette.com?
Up Next: It’s time for a mid-week game, and it’s kind of a big deal even though it’s not a conference game. Marquette will be in South Bend on Wednesday afternoon to take on Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish are 5-4 on the year, but as of last Monday, they were still ranked #7 in the country when they were 5-3 before losing to #8 Duke on Saturday. They’re probably going to drop in the new poll this coming Monday, but I’d expect them to still be in the top 20 when MU rolls into town.