The first three games of the Marquette men’s lacrosse season looked an awful lot like “quality team fighting hard against teams that are probably better them by a solid amount.” Two close losses followed up by scoring more goals in 30 minutes against Georgetown than the Hoyas had given up in their first three games combined. Lots of reasons for optimism, I thought, as the Golden Eagles went into Saturday’s game against Providence.
And then they only scored eight goals in 60 minutes against the Friars, falling by a score of 12-8. Marquette is now 0-4 on the year, and because that’s how the schedules are going this season, they are 0-4 in Big East action after facing four of the five opponents in the league.
It’s not great.
It was okay for a while on Saturday. Tied at two at the end of the first quarter, and then no one remembered how to put the ball in the net for a while. Marquette fended off two extra man chances for the Friars, and it was still tied when Griffin Fleming scored the first goal of the period with just 2:01 to go. MU up 3-2, so not bad.
Bad was right around the corner, though, as Providence got a goal from Dan Axelson 41 seconds later and another from Matt Grillo 28 seconds after that to go into the break up 4-3. Not ideal.
Devon Cowan knotted it up at four each with 9:49 to go in the third, and that’s what things fell apart for Marquette. They would not score again for the rest of the period while giving up four unanswered goals to the Friars. The front and back ends came from Grillo, who would end up scoring five times for Providence on the day. The last one came with 26 seconds to go and left it at 8-4 Friars with 15 minutes to play.
Marquette’s attempt at a rally was short circuited by not being able to put goals next to each other in the fourth quarter. Fleming scored with 11:56 to go, which is a good start. Grillo answered. Anthony Orsini scored with a man advantage, but Axelson did the same on the other end 90 seconds later. 10-6 Providence, five minutes left.
You see the problem.
Russell Melendez and Garrett Moya gave Marquette a flicker of life late, scoring just 31 seconds apart to make it a 10-8 game with three minutes left. That was it for the rally, though, as Providence got two more goals of their own, including Grillo’s fifth, to give us the final margin.
This makes it sound like Marquette was struggling on the defensive end. It was actually the lowest number of total shots given up by the Golden Eagles this season, with the 47 going under the 49 given up in the opener against Denver. That’s about an average number of shots for the Friars, though, so that’s an entirely different story. We also have to highlight the fact that Sean Richard was running wild in net for the Golden Eagles. The redshirt freshman from Michigan went the full 60 minutes here, making him the first MU goalie to do so this season. He made 16 saves in the game, including seven in the third quarter while the Friars were building that lead. Richard tied Cole Blazer and J.J. Sagl for the second most saves in a game in MU history here, and were it not for him coming up with a save on a rambunctious 57% of shots on goal, Marquette wouldn’t have even had a chance to get close late in the game like they did.
In other really great defensive news, Mason Woodward had four caused turnovers in the game, while Zach Granger had three. That’s seven dead Friars possessions generated by two of Marquette’s close defense. That’s pretty good stuff, with Woodward missing Liam Byrnes’ single game record by just one. Also pretty good was the seven ground balls scooped up by Woodward. It’s nowhere close to a single game record thanks to how face off rules work, and still two short of Noah Richard’s field player record, but seven is a bunch so good for the talented sophomore.
How about some highlights, such as they are, courtesy of GoMarquette.com?
Up Next: Hey, remember that thing earlier when I mentioned that MU looked tough against teams that were notably better than them and there was reason for optimism against Providence? Okay, so now things have flipped around, leaving us with questions about the Golden Eagles heading into another one of those “notably better” games. MU will be on the road for their only scheduled mid-week game of the year on Wednesday to face #9 Notre Dame.
Yes, it’s a game against the Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. Insert joke here.
Notre Dame is just 2-0 on the season so far with home games against Robert Morris and Bellarmine. Wednesday will be their first game in 11 days, and I suppose there’s a chance that they will shift around a little bit in the Inside Lacrosse media poll between now and Wednesday’s game. They’ll still be ranked and probably in the top 10, though, just like they have been for seven of the eight meetings between the two teams, which is part of the reason why MU is 0-8 all time against the Irish.