By now, you should have already read our runthrough on the Marquette Golden Eagles men’s lacrosse players who are returning from the 2019 roster. If not, go do that! The Golden Eagles don’t actually start games til Saturday, so you’ve got a moment or seven to do that. Here, we’re going to talk about the 14 freshmen on the roster this year. Most of if not all of these gents signed up to play lacrosse for Joe Amplo, but they’re going to be playing from Andrew Stimmel instead. We’ll see what that means for them, but what we do know in general is that Marquette has space in their rotations at almost every position on the field for these dudes to make an impression on the coaching staff and get on the field regularly this season. Thankfully, the Marquette Tribune published their preview on Tuesday, so thanks to interviews with Stimmel and a few upperclassmen, we’re starting to get a picture of which new guys are towards the front of the queue.
Marquette’s recruiting class in this department is headlined by two guys regarded as four-star prospects by Inside Lacrosse. Griffin Fries (5’11”, 180 lb.) is also a two-time US Lacrosse All-American and went for 237 goals and 134 assists at Shawnee Mission East High School in Kansas. Three state titles and one runner-up performance (lost by one goal) is one hell of a way to go through your prep career, and at that point, ending up as the all-time points leader in Kansas high school lacrosse history is just icing on the cake. Fries played club lacrosse with three other MU freshmen (Jake Stegman, Noah Verlinde, and Jake Williams), so we’ll see if that ends up paying dividends for the Golden Eagles this season. Devon Cowan (6’1”, 190 lb.) is the other four-star guy, and he comes in ranked as the #34 attackman in the country. That seems pretty good. Cowan scored 110 goals in four varsity campaigns at The Hun School in New Jersey, earning all-state honors as a senior and winning state titles as a junior and as a senior. It appears that Cowan is getting inserted directly into the starting lineup to start the year, and if he can handle the pressure as a freshman, he could end up being a fantastic foundational point for Andrew Stimmel’s tenure.
I get slightly worried about the capabilities of attack players when I check their official Marquette bios as freshmen and I don’t get stats listed for them. That’s the case for Michael Colpack (6’2”, 190 lb.), Montana McLaughlin (5’10”, 170 lb.), and Jake Stegman (5’10”, 160 lb.). Colpack was all-state in Colorado as a senior, and Stegman was a two-time captain at Naperville High in the Chicago suburbs, so that’s not nothing, but it’s also not “here’s all of his goals and assists.” For what it’s worth, the Trib notes that Stegman appears to be shifting to the midfield instead of the attack designation that he has on the roster. McLaughlin earns a note here for the most interesting official bio page picture on the team.
This looks to be an incredibly talented and productive group coming in. Jake Williams (5’9”, 170 lb.) is a four-star prospect according to Inside Lacrosse. Chris Kirschner (6’0”, 175 lb.) tallied 187 points with over 100 goals in his prep career in New Jersey. Max Kruszeski (6’0”, 175 lb.) might be the most decorated guy in the entire recruiting class. He broke his high school’s record for career points with 272 and led the team in points three times. This is particularly notable, because Kruszeski hails from Southold out on Long Island. That’s a particularly notable lacrosse hotbed, so take it seriously when I tell you that Kruszeski won two county and Long Island titles in his prep career and was the MVP of all four of those title games. That seems good.
Interestingly to all of that about Kruszeski, the Trib has him listed under short stick defensive midfielders. If that’s where he’s going to play after breaking a Long Island high school’s scoring record, well, that seems like an interesting choice by the coaching staff, but they’re much smarter than me when it comes to lacrosse. If Stimmel is going to play a fast transition oriented style, then having a SSDM who can convert turnovers to assists and goals seems like a good plan, though.
The Trib has this quote from Peter Henkhaus, noted midfielder and Marquette’s leading returning scorer from last season:
“I really like Kirschner,” Henkhaus said. “He’s a freshman on the offensive midfield that’s moving fast, shooting a lot and looks really good out there.”
DEFENSE/LONG STICK MIDFIELDER
Well, we have to start the conversation here with Mason Woodward (6’2”, 190 lb.). That’s what happens when the Trib says things like “Woodward will lead the defensive group.” The Maryland native was a captain in three different sports in high school and, perhaps more relevant to this conversation, he’s the fifth top 100 prospect in Marquette lacrosse history. The four-star recruit comes in ranked #99 overall in the class of 2019, which seems pretty good. He recorded 78 ground balls and 46 caused turnovers while earning all-state honors as a senior.
Noah Verlinde (6’3”, 185 lb.) will also get a chance to earn playing time this season, as 1) he’s pretty good at this whole lacrosse thing and 2) Marquette’s defensive corps is depleted following the departures of Nick Grill (transfer), Jackson Ehlert, and Brendan Connolly (end of eligibility). Verlinde was a three-time team MVP for his Spring Lake (MI) High School team, culminating in a senior season where he had 71 ground balls and 47 caused turnovers and led the team to their first ever conference championship. Nice.
Jack Cleary (5’11”, 180 lb.) and Aiden O’Donnell (5’11”, 165 lb.) are listed as “defender/long stick midfielder” on the roster, but for the time being, it seems that their best path towards playing time is at close defense. Moey Lardy, Anthony Courcelle, and James Amorosana seem to have the regular LSM spots locked up at the moment, but hey: Best player wins, y’know? Cleary was the New York State Catholic School Defensive Player of the Year as a senior after “only” being all Catholic School First Team for his first three years of high school. O’Donnell comes to Marquette from Connecticut (start a D1 team already, UConn, we’re in your base, stealing your dudes), where he was first team all-state as a senior.
Sean Richard (6’1”, 180 lb.) is MU’s lone freshman netminder. With John Hulsman seemingly firmly entrenched as the go-to goalie for this year and next year, it seems that Richard will have to make due with working hard and being ready if his number gets called. The Michigan native was a three-time captain at University of Detroit Jesuit HS, and averaged 15.2 saves and 7.2 goals allowed per game as a senior.
Remember earlier when I mentioned that I get slightly worried when attackers don’t have goals and assists numbers in their freshman year bios? Yeah, so. Luke Williams (5’10”, 170 lb.) is Marquette’s only freshman face-off specialist this year.... and his bio is completely blank. Like, nothing at all, not even a note about his family or anything. I can point out that he has to be reasonably good at this whole lacrosse thing because 1) he’s on a Division 1 team and 2) IMG Academy isn’t in the business of letting chumps enroll, but that’s all I’ve got here. Face-offs can be an esoteric thing to a certain extent in lacrosse. While I would expect Jared Hershman and Thomas Washington to take the extremely heavy majority of the draws this season, that doesn’t mean all of them. If there’s a game where they’re both getting beat or if MU just is having a lot of draws because of tempo and they need a breather, Williams might get the nod.