Well, it wasn’t easy, but it sure was interesting!
On Friday afternoon, Marquette men’s lacrosse wrapped up their 2021 campaign on a trip to New York to face St. John’s. Backed by a four goal day from Devon Cowan, including two in the final 90 seconds, the Golden Eagles returned home to Milwaukee with a 15-14 victory over the Red Storm. MU ends their season on a record of 3-9 overall and 2-8 in the Big East. They also locked in St. John’s to a winless 0-10 record in Big East action.
Technically, I guess we could say that this game started off well for Marquette, as the Golden Eagles took a 2-0 lead in the first three minutes. Officially, I don’t think we can say it started well, as St. John’s scored the next five goals of the game before the midway point of the first quarter to put themselves out in front 5-2. It wasn’t a surprise who was scoring for the Johnnies, as their top scoring trio of Jonathan Huber and the Madsen twins accounted for all five goals. From there through halftime, Marquette traded goals back and forth with the Red Storm, wrapping up the half on a goal from Ryan Fazio with 5:19 left to make it 8-6 favoring the home team at the break.
Fazio’s goal was the start of things turning around for Marquette. The Golden Eagles scored the first three goals of the second half, including two from Morgan Macko in the first four minutes, to first tie the game at eight and then take a 9-8 lead for their first lead since it was 2-1 with 12 minutes left in the first quarter. St. John’s didn’t take this laying down, though, and they answered back with two goals of their own to take a 10-9 lead. Cowan would provide his second marker with 1:07 left in the quarter to make it 10-all with 15 minutes to play.
Then things really got interesting.
The two teams combined to score nine goals in the fourth quarter, with goals from Thomas Washington and Griffin Fleming early on giving Marquette the advantage and making St. John’s chase them. Connor Kalmus caught fire for the Red Storm after his goal late in the third quarter and added two more in the fourth, going back and forth with Fleming to make it a 13-13 game with 4:37 to go. All of this action, and it’s a brand new ball game at the very end.
And then, with less than 90 seconds left, Devon Cowan in transition, with a great feed and screen from Aaron Joseph:
Gabe Stein came up big for Marquette on the other end, saving a Thomas Martello shot with 47 seconds left, and a ground ball by Noah Verlinde led to a clearance and a timeout from the Golden Eagles as they looked to preserve their lead.
St. John’s made the interesting choice to empty their net at this point, going with seven field players on defense to hassle the Marquette attackers into a turnover in the closing seconds. It did not work. Devon Cowan drove himself into open space and fired into the empty net.
Devon Cowan became just the fourth player in Marquette history with 30 goals in a single season.— Marquette Lacrosse (@MarquetteMLax) April 30, 2021
He had four on Friday afternoon to become the youngest player to reach the mark at MU. #WeAreMarquette pic.twitter.com/rquNXog2Gn
That left the Golden Eagles up 15-13 with 23 seconds to go, and all they had to do was burn time off the clock to win.
Well, a little bit more than that, I guess. St. John’s did tack on one final goal with seven seconds left to make it a one goal game at the end, but Washington won the face off after that one to himself and MU was able to get to the horn for the victory.
Cowan gets the notes for the hero work at the end along with joining Ryan McNamara, Tyler Melnyk, Jordan Greenfield, and John Wagner as the only Golden Eagles to record 30 goals in a season. However, Cowan was joined in the “four points in this game club” by Ryan Fazio and Griffin Fleming, both of whom had two goals and two assists on the day. Gabe Stein came on in relief of John Hulsman in net for Marquette after Hulsman struggled in the early going by giving up six goals without making a save. Stein played the final 50+ minutes of the game, recording a whopping 17 saves, including six in the fourth quarter to propel MU to victory down the stretch.
How about some highlights, courtesy of WatchESPN, RedStormSports.com, and GoMarquette.com?
We don’t have an Up Next here since this was the end of the regular season for Marquette and they did not qualify for the Big East tournament. Instead, we turn our attention to the MU seniors: Tommy von den Benken, Colin O’Donnell, Keaton Thomson, Anthony Orsini, John Hulsman, Anthony Courcelle, Brendan Alt, Griffin Fleming, Morgan Macko, Gabe Stein, and Elliott Yacu, and especially P.J. Cox, Ryan Fazio, Peter Henkhaus, and Connor McClelland. Those last four guys were Marquette’s Super Seniors this season, electing to return to the team after their original senior season in 2020 was cut short by the pandemic.
It has not been an easy four (or five!) years of college lacrosse for these guys. With the exception of Macko, who was a grad transfer for this season only, they were recruited to play for Joe Amplo back around the time when the Golden Eagles won back-to-back Big East tournaments and made consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. Heck, the fifth year guys on the team were on that second NCAA tournament team. Things haven’t gone well for Marquette since then. They’ve played in just one Big East tournament game since and haven’t finished a season with a winning record. Amplo left Marquette for the Navy head coaching job following the 2019 season, and going through any coaching transition isn’t a picnic even if these guys like new head coach Andrew Stimmel. Then Stimmel’s first year in charge was stopped after seven games due to the pandemic and these seniors had to play out their final year on the field while dealing with COVID protocols all along the way.
It’s a lot to deal with, especially when you consider their starting point!
But that didn’t stop these guys from working hard and giving everything they had at every practice and every game. They put in the effort to improve themselves in workouts and fought to win on game day, no matter what happened last year or last game. You can’t ask for much more from any athlete that puts on the blue and gold, and for that, we give them a big Anonymous Eagle THANK YOU and wish them nothing but the best in whatever comes next.