With Marquette men’s lacrosse off to an 0-2 start on the season, partly because of the schedule the Big East handed them with two straight preseason top 20 teams and partly because Cleveland State had to duck out of the previously scheduled opener, I got a little twitchy in the head over the past week. Part of that had to do with MU facing what looks to be their toughest opponent of the year this coming Saturday, and part of that had to do with the fact that Marquette has never been 0-2 to start a season before.
No, not even in Year #1 as a program when they were still an independent team with a whole mess of freshman who had never played D1 lacrosse before. That year, they beat Air Force in Game #2 of the year. In Year #2, Marquette dropped their opener to #17 Lehigh (no shame there, second year program, ranked team, etc.), but then they beat Hofstra in Game #2. After that, Marquette had always won their season opener up until this season.
So, with the #4 team in the country waiting on Saturday, that sounds an awful lot like a pretty strong chance of 0-3 for the first time ever. That made me think about an old gimmick from our friends over at College Crosse called Reverse Survivor. They would keep track of who the last team to win a game in a season would be every year. Obviously, Marquette never came close to taking home that less than prestigious award, as 1-1 was the worst start to a season up til this year.
Is Marquette approaching Reverse Survivor territory with their 0-2 start? Not even close! According to the NCAA, through games played on March 3, only 39 teams have won a game so far this season. There’s 74 teams in D1 lacrosse this year, so MU is nowhere close to being the Reverse Survivor winner right now, and even if they don’t shock the world and knock off this weekend’s opponent, they’re still probably not in danger yet.
Kind of makes next week’s game against a team that was not ranked in the preseason kind of super important in that regard, but that’s Future Andrew Stimmel’s problem to worry about! We’ll get to that when we get to that.
Marquette has been feisty in their first two games of the year against two opponents that rate somewhere between “pretty” and “very” in terms of good. They’re both top 30 in Lacrosse Reference’s ELO ranking system, while MU comes in at #44. Scheduled losses, to a certain extent, but MU has kept going with the trend set in Stimmel’s first season in charge last year. All of their losses last season were by either 1 or 2 goals, and that’s been the same case here against tougher opponents than they saw in 2020 before the season was shut down. It’s only a matter of time before that turns into wins in the record book.
Big East Game #3: at #4 Georgetown Hoyas (3-0)
Date: Saturday, March 6, 2021
Time: 11am Central
Location: Cooper Field, Washington, D.C.
Streaming: GUHoyas.com with Jeremy Huber and Earl Brewer on the call
Live Stats: Stat Broadcast
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteMLax
Marquette is 5-3 all time against Georgetown. The Golden Eagles have won the last four meetings with the Hoyas dating back to 2016. All four games have been decided by one goal, as have two of MU’s losses in the series as well. Two of Marquette’s wins in the series have come in overtime, and the Golden Eagles have beaten a ranked Georgetown team in each of the past two games in the series.
With that said, it seems unlikely that the Golden Eagles are going to keep it within a goal in this encounter or beat a ranked Georgetown squad. To get to 3-0 on the year, the Hoyas have surrendered just seven goals all season. Through the first two games of the year, they had not allowed a goal after the end of the first quarter, as they beat Villanova (yes, that VU team that beat MU 16-14) by a score of 16-1 (yes, one) and then knocked off St. John’s 19-1 (yes, again, one). Tuesday’s road game against Mount St. Mary’s was a different story, as they conceded five goals to the Mountaineers in total and four of them in the final three quarters of the game. Of course, they were winning 11-2 at the half, so it’s not like MSM’s second half goals really made a dent here.
The most impressive thing about this defensive performance is that they’re doing it without 2020 All-American Gibson Smith. Or, well, mostly. Smith played against Villanova, but he missed the St. John’s and Mount St. Mary’s games.... and they still only allowed six goals in two hours of action. Smith is expected to miss this game against MU according to Inside Lacrosse, but he is week-to-week and may return to the lineup by the time Georgetown comes to Milwaukee in April.
Jake Carraway is leading the Georgetown attack, and I mean that in more ways than one. He has 16 of GU’s 52 goals on the year, and no one else has more than the seven posted by Graham Bundy. In addition to that, Carraway became Georgetown’s all time leader in goals against St. John’s and broke the program’s record for career points against The Mount. Yeah, he’s that kind of leading the attack. Carraway also has seven assists so far this season — again, in only three games — although he’s trailing along behind the 11 helpers that TJ Haley has produced. Disrupting Carraway is #1, #2, and #3 on the scouting report for Marquette, but Georgetown has enough going on elsewhere that it may not be enough to just contain him.
Head coach Kevin Warne has been starting Owen McElroy in net this season, and he looks like he’s the goalie of choice with over 122 minutes played. Since their three games have gotten out of control, Todd Kennedy and Noah Klein have both played a bit this year already, but if MU keeps it close, they’ll likely be seeing McElroy in net the whole time. He’s allowing — this is not a joke — just 1.96 goals per 60 minutes and stopping over 82% of shots on goal. I presume that the field defense is doing a heavy amount of the work of McElroy to keep that GAA down — that’s not an insult to him, you don’t hold two straight opponents to only one goal because your goalie is standing on his head — but 82% of shots saved is no joke.