Let’s be honest: After Marquette men’s lacrosse started out the year 0-5 with losses to three teams ranked at the time of the game and another loss to a team that was ranked in the preseason, we were all starting to get a little bit twitchy about when MU was going to get a win. The twitchiness picked up after both of their games against St. John’s were postponed (canceled?) because of COVID issues with the Red Storm.
And then Cleveland State stepped up to fit into the schedule so Marquette didn’t go without a game for over two weeks after the Vikings had to bow out of a season opening game back on February 13th because of their own COVID issues.
And then Marquette went out and beat the Vikings, 10-5, for their first win of the year.
The game was a matter of Marquette outdistancing Cleveland State. Russell Melendez got the Golden Eagles on the board first just 50 seconds into the game, and over the next 10+ minutes, Marquette added goals from Ryan Fazio and Devon Cowan. 3-0 MU, and it was just a matter of maintaining the lead from there.
Marquette never let Cleveland State score two goals in a row all game long. It was 3-1 at the end of the first quarter and 5-2 at halftime. The third quarter was the only period where the Vikings scored twice, but MU scored first, third, and last in the quarter to hold an 8-4 advantage with 15 minutes to play. Griffin Fleming scored that last goal of the third quarter and then added the first two of the fourth quarter to make it 10-4 with 11:20 to go. Cleveland State would ultimately outshoot Marquette 11-7 in the final quarter of the game, but that can be attributed to the Golden Eagles settling in and focusing on controlling possession as opposed to actually trying to pour goals into the net. In other words: If you’re up six and looking for your first win, figure out how to do it however you can.
Fleming’s late three strikes gave him four in the game, and he added an assist and two ground balls to his afternoon as well. Melendez had a hat trick to partner up with Fleming for 70% of MU’s goals on the day, and he had an assist, two ground balls, and a caused turnover, too. Luke Williams took the majority of the faceoffs for Marquette on the day, and he went 7-for-13. Mason Woodward was his usual Mason Woodward-y self on defense, grabbing up five ground balls and causing a turnover to help protect John Hulsman in the cage.
How about some highlights, courtesy of GoMarquette.com?
Up Next: Well, it’s back into the woodchipper for Marquette. Over each of the next four Saturdays, the Golden Eagles will face off against the four Big East teams that they’ve already played and lost to this season. First up on April 3rd is Denver, the same team that MU opened the season against back on February 20th. The Pioneers are 7-2 and a perfect 5-0 on the season at the moment after beating Providence, 19-11, on Saturday. They were #7 in the country in last week’s Inside Lacrosse top 20 poll, so I presume they’ll still be top 10 at the very least when Marquette makes it out to Colorado.