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Marquette Men’s Lacrosse Preview: at Michigan

The Golden Eagles tangle with the Wolverines in an afternoon midweek tilt.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 07 Army at Michigan Getty Images

Here’s something I learned from the official Marquette men’s lacrosse preview on GoMarquette.com that helps to put this season in perspective:

Marquette is the only team in the country that has started three freshmen on attack at once.

Yep.

That came in MU’s road game against Detroit Mercy on February 22nd. It’s probably just a coincidence that the Golden Eagles set a program record for goals in that game. I mean that seriously. Just a coincidence. Detroit’s not particularly good at lacrosse.

The point here is that MU’s three freshmen who started on attack in that game all happen to be MU’s top point scorers on the season right now. This is a not surprising thing. It was definitely possible for the Golden Eagles this year to end up with freshmen leading the way on offense. Between Marquette losing about half their offense from last season and new head coach Andrew Stimmel, it always seemed possible that the fresh new eyes from Stimmel could lead to giving freshmen a chance to spread their wings. Chris Kirschner has scored at least one goal in every single one of his collegiate games so far, and we have to say “one” in that sentence because Robert Morris held him to a lone goal in MU’s last game. Before that, he was getting at least two goals a game, and had come into the RMU game with three straight hat tricks.

Needing big performances every time out from freshmen is something that’s very important to Marquette this season. It also probably helps explain why the Golden Eagles are 3-3 through six games. The freshmen might be playing pretty well — and not just the freshmen on offense, shouts to Mason Woodward — but sometimes that means “playing pretty well for freshmen,” and that means every so often things aren’t quite as consistent as you would like to see. Or maybe not as much as is needed to be a high quality lacrosse team, and that’s how you end up at 3-3 through six games.

In any case, Wednesday’s game in Ann Arbor is a big one for Marquette. It’s their final tuneup before Big East play begins. That means there’s just seven games left after Wednesday, five conference games and contests against Duke and Notre Dame. It’s easily MU’s seven biggest games of the season, so coming away from Wednesday with a full 60 minute performance that results in a win would kind of be a big deal for the Golden Eagles.

Game #7: at Michigan Wolverines (3-3)

Date: Wednesday, March 11, 2020
Time: 3pm Central
Location: UM Lacrosse Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI
Streaming: BTN+, which means a $10 monthly subscription
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteMLax

Marquette is 1-1 all time against Michigan, with both meetings happening in the last two seasons. The Wolverines won the first ever meeting in Ann Arbor, while the Golden Eagles won last year when the series shifted to Milwaukee.

Here’s what we can say for certain about the Wolverines this season: They hate doing things in pairs. Three wins, three losses, none back to back. Win, loss, win, loss, win, loss. The wins are nothing particularly notable, although we should point out that they beat Big East rival St. John’s, 16-11, on February 29th. That does make this game a potential measuring stick for Marquette. The losses, though..... well, most recently, they lost 17-11 to #5 Yale out in California. That’s not the worst, although the Yalies did score four goals in the final eight minutes to secure that win. The worst thing on Michigan’s schedule is their 14-12, “we blew a 9-7 third quarter lead,” “we blew an 11-10 third quarter lead” loss to Merrimack. That’s “First year in Division 1” Merrimack. That’s “1-5 on the year, and you know who the win is against” Merrimack.

Michigan does have productive scorers. Bryce Clay, Josh Zawada, and Kevin Mack are all averaging at last two goals per game this season, and at 19 goals in six contests, Clay is averaging just over a hat trick. I bet it would not surprise you to find out that that he got shutout against Merrimack. He prepared for it in the previous game by scoring six goals, and has scored at least three in every other game of the season. Clay’s doing this while shooting .413 on the year, so that might be a significant problem for the Golden Eagles’ defense.

As great of a goal scorer as Clay might be, Zawada is probably MU’s biggest problem. He has 14 goals and 14 assists on the year, and no one else on the roster has more than eight helpers so far this year. Disrupting Zawada’s play and thus UM’s distribution program might be the most important thing for MU to do in this one.

I presume that we’ll see Matt Trowbridge in net for the Wolverines. The senior from Saint Louis has started all six matches for Michigan, and he’s allowing just 10.77 goals per 60 minutes. However, John Kiracofe, a sophomore from Maryland, has played at least 20 minutes in all but one game this season, and has split everything with Trowbridge right down the middle in the last three games. Kiracofe is allowing more goals per 60 minutes and stopping a lower percentage of shots than Trowbridge, so I’m not really sure what head coach Kevin Conry is attempting to accomplish here.