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Marquette Men’s Lacrosse Preview: at Drexel

The Golden Eagles head to Philadelphia for a first ever meeting with the Dragons.

CAA Basketball Tournament - First Round - Drexel v Elon
Yes, that’s Drexel’s mascot.
Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Last weekend, Marquette men’s lacrosse set a program record for goals in a game in their win over Detroit Mercy.

This is notable for reasons beyond mere rewriting of the record book. New head coach Andrew Stimmel and new offensive coordinator Peet Poillon come to Marquette with reputations as guys who coach explosive offenses. The word “explosive” would definitely not be one that would apply to any of MU’s first three games of the campaign. Sure, there was the seven goal first quarter against Bellarmine, but that ended in a one goal victory for the Golden Eagles.

So, what we got last Saturday was a glimpse of what we thought might be possible under Stimmel’s direction. That’s good! Of course, there’s also the question to ask as to how much Detroit Mercy played in the equation. After all, they did give up 23 goals against then-#12 Ohio State earlier this year.

We also have to ask how much MU’s lineup change last week played into things. Stimmel and Poillon stuck with the same trio at starting attack and starting midfield through the first three games of the year. Last week saw a change, although it wasn’t necessarily a completely coaching minded change.

Instead of Ryan Fazio, Holden Patterson, and Devon Cowan at attack, we got an all-freshman lineup of Cowan, Jake Stegman, and Chris Kirschner. In the midfield, we got Fazio, Anthony Orsini, and Peter Henkhaus instead of of Connor McClelland, Garrett Moya, and Henkhaus. The catch here is two-fold. First, three guys stayed the same: Fazio, Henkhaus, and Cowan. Second, McClelland and Moya didn’t play at all. It would certainly seem that the lineup change was caused by the lack of availability of two starters more than anything else.

Except the lineup change did result in a record number of goals scored. The question now for the coaching staff is whether they stick with the change because it worked or go back to what they thought was their best lineup if everyone’s available. This weekend’s outing in Philadelphia is our first chance to see what’s what in that regard. I for one hope to see a metric ton of goals coming out of Marquette sticks no matter what, and let me tell you something: It seems like Drexel is willing to help out in that regard........

Game #5: at Drexel Dragons (1-2)

Date: Saturday, February 29, 2020
Time: Noon Central
Location: Vidas Field, Philadelphia, PA
Streaming: Drexel’s streaming service, and it is free.
Live Stats: Stat Broadcast
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteMLax

This is Marquette’s first ever meeting with Drexel.

The Dragons are coming off a 24-12 victory over Robert Morris back on Tuesday evening. 13 different players put one in the net on that day, setting a CAA record for goals in a game and marking the most goals by Drexel since 1975. The second quarter was the big one, as they turned a 5-2 game at the end of the first quarter into a 14-5 game at halftime. That was their first win of the season after suffering back-to-back road losses to High Point and Albany to start the year.

52 goals on the year means 17.3 goals per game for Drexel this year, which means they know a thing or two about scoring goals. However, the most impressive thing about what Drexel is doing on offense is how much they spread it around. Three guys have scored nine goals already this year, which means they’re averaging a hat trick. Poor Aidan Coll, muddling along this year with only eight goals.

Still, even with those gentlemen ripping off the shots that put points on the board, they may not be the most dangerous men on the field for Drexel. After all, none of them are leading the team in points. That honor belongs to Matthew Varian. He has just five goals on the year, but he has 11 assists on a team where nowhere else has more than three. Yes, Varian went to town on Robert Morris, racking up six of his assists on the year. However, he had three against High Point (and three goals, too) and another two against Albany. Varian is the guy that keeps things flowing for Drexel, and figuring him out might be MU’s path to victory.

Then again, with the Dragons letting in 14 goals per game, attempting to overpower them with goals isn’t the worst possible idea. Drexel has a shots on goal percentage problem on defense. They’re allowing more shots on goal — 68% — than they — 58% — create themselves. If Marquette can find ways to create movement on offense and create clean looks at the net, that might be the way to get to a win. Creating pressure on Drexel’s defense after Marquette shoots it might one as well. The Dragons are only converting 79% of their clears so far this season, and averaging nearly six failed clears per game is not particularly great..... for them. Potentially very great for Marquette, though, and isn’t that what’s important here, on this website?

As you’d expect, Ross Blumenthal’s goals-against average for the Dragons isn’t very good. Partially a product of the defense in front of him, partially a product of their overall experience on the field. It’s also partially a product of Blumenthal stopping less than half of the shots on goal. Blumenthal isn’t new to the game, after starting 11 games last year as a freshman. However, he also had a save percentage under .500 in 2019, too. That seems likely to be a trend that continues as a result, and it needs to be one that Marquette’s newly hyperactive offense needs to find a way to take advantage of on Saturday.