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Marquette Men’s Lacrosse Preview: vs Bellarmine

WOO HOME OPENER

Medieval festival in Belarus
It’s knights at a medieval festival in Belarus!
Photo by Natalia Fedosenko\TASS via Getty Images

I don’t know if I want to go so far as to declare the first game of the Andrew Stimmel era of Marquette men’s lacrosse to be a rousing success, but the 11-10 overtime victory over Cleveland State out in Ohio definitely was a success. Wins are wins, no matter how you get there. You would, of course, rather not have to rally from down 6-3 at halftime in the first game of a new head coach’s tenure nor in the first game of a new season, but rally the Golden Eagles did, and so you chalk it up as worthy of high fives and figure out what didn’t go well to solve for next time.

Here’s what we know went well for sure:

  • Devon Cowan. The freshman attacker from New Jersey had five points in his collegiate debut including a hat trick. He also led the team in shots, doubling up sophomore attacker Holden Patterson, 12-6. That’s a guy who 1) has a green light from the coaching staff and 2) isn’t shy. That’s good news! Cowan scored in big moments, too, tying the game at 7 early in the fourth quarter and then giving Marquette a 9-8 lead with six minutes to play.
  • Chris Kirschner. The freshman midfielder from New Jersey made one of the most heads up plays of his lifetime when he potted Marquette’s overtime game winner just 25 seconds into the extra period. He threw the ball into an empty net from at least 20 yards out while CSU was in a 10 man ride for whatever god forsaken reason, because that reason was absolutely not to double the ball and force a turnover. Kirschner was running free with the ball down the sideline for the clearance, saw the empty net, and banged home the winner.
  • Mason Woodward. The freshman close defender from Maryland had EIGHT ground balls and three caused turnovers in his first collegiate game and earned a spot on the USILA D1 Team Of The Week. Cool!

It is and it is not a coincidence that the biggest stars in Marquette’s first game of the season were freshmen. The Golden Eagles don’t have much returning from last season anywhere on the field other than in net and on face-offs, so there’s space everywhere for the young guys to step up and make plays. The best guy for the job is going to get the chance to do the job as Stimmel gets settled into his first season, and that’s going to end up paying long term dividends for the Golden Eagles.

It’s also good that the new guys are stepping up immediately, because when the calendar flips to March, things are going to get a lot more serious for the Golden Eagles very quickly. The freshmen that Stimmel needs to play well need to get the new guy twitches out of their system before MU hosts Robert Morris for their first game of March, because it’s nothing but high quality opponents the rest of the way down. The success level of the season will be decided by MU’s final nine games, and the quicker things fall into place for Marquette, the better everything will go in March and April.

Game #2: vs Bellarmine Knights (0-1)

Date: Saturday, February 8, 2020
Time: Noon Central
Location: Andy Glockner Memorial Bubble, Valley Fields, Milwaukee, WI
Streaming: GoMarquette.com
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteMLax

Marquette is 3-3 all time against Bellarmine. The Golden Eagles picked up the 15-9 win a year ago at Valley Fields in the season opener to even the series and give MU a 2-1 advantage in home games.

As you may have guessed from a not great Marquette team giving Bellarmine the business last season, the Knights were not great, either. They finished 2019 with a record of 3-10, and did nothing but do things in a row: eight losses, three wins, two losses. Kind of wild, honestly. Given that BU had not had a winning season since 2014, that led to head coach Jim Mitchell stepping down after the season and being replaced by 10 year Fairfield assistant Andrew Whitley. This probably did not help their preseason predictions in the SoCon, as they were picked to finish seventh out of eight teams and no one on the Bellarmine roster was included on the preseason all-conference team.

The Knights have a trio of returning guys on offense in Morgan Macko, Landon Trout, and Luke Legnard that totaled 57 goals and 36 assists a year ago. Macko himself had 21 and 15 in 2019, so he’ll be expected to lead the way for BU this season. That did not go in that direction in their 16-10 season opening loss at Utah, as the Utes held Macko to a single goal late in the first quarter. It was Trout that led the way for BU last weekend with two goals and two assists.

Eric Rubak will take the lead on defending whomever BU notes as MU’s most important attacker, which is probably Devon Cowan after last week. Rubak will be leading a defensive group that appears to have to work with two different goalies behind them, at least for now. JC Higgenbotham got the start against Utah, and let in 10 goals while making nine saves and left the game with Bellarmine trailing 10-4. Ian Reilly took the second half and made 11 saves while allowing six goals. I’d say that Reilly was part of a rally for the Knights, but BU’s 3-0 run in the first 7 minutes of the third quarter was almost immediately wiped out by a Utes 3-0 run that took about 70 seconds.