Let’s just come out and say it: Marquette’s next loss will mean that this is the worst season in men’s lacrosse history in Milwaukee.
At the moment, the Golden Eagles are 1-7 overall. Marquette’s next loss won’t tie them for the most losses in program history, which is 10 in Year Two. The next loss will, however, guarantee the fewest number of wins in program history. MU has four games remaining, which means mathematically, they can get to five wins. That is the fewest number of wins that Marquette has ever recorded in a season, which was back in Year 1. Any losses in the next four games means that MU can only win four games this year at most, which would be a new program low.
I don’t blame anyone for this. Marquette has played a lot of very tough opponents this year, and they’ve playing twice as many Big East games as they normally would play. Who can say how many games Marquette would have won if the league had gone with the normal five game league schedule and let the teams schedule however they wanted? Even against the deluge of ranked opponents, Marquette has looked pretty solid most of the time and has thrown some scares into them along the way. They just keep coming up on the short end of the stick over and over.
The good news is that Marquette gets to play a Big East team that’s having just as bad of a time record-wise and is arguably playing much worse lacrosse than the Golden Eagles. Does that mean a win is coming MU’s way? Well, it’s not a guarantee, but if the MU that gave Georgetown fits for 45+ minutes on Saturday shows up again, I’m feeling pretty good about their chances.
Big East Game #7: vs St. John’s Red Storm (1-6, 0-6 Big East)
Marquette is 6-1 all time against St. John’s. The Red Storm won the first ever meeting back in 2013, and it’s been all Golden Eagles ever since. Well, that’s not entirely true, as two of the games did go to overtime.
As you can see from the record, St. John’s is having about as much win/loss luck as Marquette in Big East play this season. They won their opener at Hofstra, beating the Pride 19-18 in overtime. That was their only non-conference game of the year, and it’s also their only win. It’s been six straight losses, all against Big East teams ever since.
The difference between Marquette and St. John’s is that the Johnnies have been getting bombed out of games. Their Big East opener loss at home to Providence by eight goals is their smallest margin of defeat in league play. They’ve been outscored 114-39 by their Big East opponents, including a 19-1 loss to Georgetown.
The obvious question to ask here is whether St. John’s has an offense problem or a defense problem. I think the answer is the defense, but it’s not cut and dried. There are 66 teams playing Division 1 lacrosse this year, and Lacrosse Reference says that SJU is the second worst defensive team in the country in terms of efficiency. That’s probably their biggest problem. However, LR has the Red Storm at #50 in offensive efficiency, so it’s not like they can’t get a stop to save their lives and the offense just can’t keep up. They’re not good at scoring, either. I’m not sure what to make of St. John’s ranking second-to-last in time of possession, but it’s probably not good. Marquette is third-to-last, so it’s not like I can throw a lot of stones around out here.
St. John’s has a four-pack of guys who have tallied double-digit points even while the team is going through it and five guys who are averaging at least a point per game. Joe Madsen leads the way with 16 points on 11 goals and five assists, while Jonathan Huber is right behind him with just one fewer assist. Twin brother Mike Madsen has nine goals and four assists, while Ryan Schaeffer has found the net nine times and been a helping hand twice for 11 points. Dylan Willis is the lone non-double-digit guy in the point per game club with eight points (5G, 3A) in only five games played. He hasn’t played since St. John’s game against Villanova on March 14th, though, and seeing as that’s when the Johnnies went on a COVID pause, I’m drawing a conclusion that Willis might still be unavailable on Wednesday afternoon.
Brody Agres has played at least some goalie in six of the seven games that St. John’s has played this season, and he’s started four of them. Two of those are the two most recent games that the Johnnies have played, so I’d wager he’ll be in net at Valley Fields on Wednesday. Or, rather, at least he’ll start there. Agres has played all of a game just once this season, and he didn’t get to the 40 minute mark in either of SJU’s last two games. None of St. John’s options are good. All four of the goalies that have played for the Red Storm this year have a goals-against average north of 15.00, although in two cases that’s because they’ve played less than three quarters worth of time. No one has a save percentage north of .470 with Agres’ .462 leading the team. Making stops is hard in lacrosse, so I don’t want to be too critical of that. Part of the problem is that SJU’s goalies are just getting pelted with shots. Agres has faced nearly as many shots this season (194) as minutes played (197:08), and that can’t be a picnic on any level.