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Marquette Men’s Lacrosse Preview: at #15 Jacksonville

Hey, look a surprise game against a top 20 opponent, that’s fun.

Port of Long Beach Photo by Nick Ut/Getty Images

The 2022 Marquette men’s lacrosse season is off and running and let me tell you, it is already very much a Marquette men’s lacrosse season.

Back last Saturday, the Golden Eagles picked up a 9-8 triple overtime victory over Bellarmine thanks not only to four goals on the day by freshman Bobby O’Grady, but specifically because O’Grady scored the sudden victory winner in the third extra session. Clap hands, etc., merely for winning, because winning is good.

But a one goal game is just par for the course for the Golden Eagles. Last Saturday’s game against the Knights was the first game of the 10th season of lacrosse at Marquette. In the first nine seasons, the Golden Eagles have played 40 one-goal games. The team had only played 124 games total! Tack on one each to those two numbers, and a full 32.8% of all Marquette lacrosse games have been one goal games.

Even wilder? Marquette is now 25-12 in one goal games! MU has won more than two-thirds of the one goal games! That’s nuts! You’d think that one goal games should be coinflips long term, but we’re nine-plus seasons in and 37 games into a sample size. At some point, winning one goal games is just what Marquette does.

And now, it’s time for Marquette’s schedule to accidentally ratchet up in difficulty. We talked about it a little bit in the season previewing, but this is Andrew Stimmel’s third season as Marquette head coach, and it will be the first season that looks like what a Division 1 men’s lacrosse season is supposed to look like. At a glance, it looks like the schedule was set up to allow the Golden Eagles to grow together as a team, slowly gaining experience and ramping up into the always difficult Big East schedule in April.

Instead, Marquette’s second game of the year is the home opener for a team that was picked to finish in the middle of their conference.... but went out and looked pretty darn good against two preseason top 20 teams in their first two games and beat one of them. I don’t think that Stimmel really wanted to play a ranked team in his second game of the season, but that’s the card that’s been dealt to his team.

Maybe it’s not a great situation, but it’s definitely a big opportunity for Marquette. Not only is a chance for Marquette to beat a ranked team for the first time since March 23, 2019, but it’s purely a chance for the Golden Eagles to show that they can run with ranked teams this season. Just getting a surprise chance to prove this to themselves, much less to other teams, is going to pay off down the line. As the Inside Lacrosse poll stands right now, Marquette’s last four games of the regular season are all against top 20 opponents, and between now and then, MU has three games against squads earning top 20 votes at the moment......

..... including next week’s home opener.

The season’s getting interesting in a hurry to say the least. Best to make the most of the opportunities that are suddenly popping up.

Game #2: at #15 Jacksonville (2-1)

Date: Saturday, February 19, 2022
Time: 11am Central
Location: Rock Stadium, Jacksonville, Florida
Streaming: JU Athletics on YouTube
Live Stats: Sidearm Sports
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteMLax

Marquette is 4-3 all time against Jacksonville. The two teams met in the first three years of MU’s program, took a year off, then squared off in four consecutive seasons after that before missing out last year due to COVID protocol scheduling more than anything else. The Golden Eagles won what we could call the middle four games of the slate after the Dolphins snagged the first two meetings. The most recent encounter was an 11-9 JU victory at Valley Fields in February 2020.

Well, it’s safe to say that the Dolphins are having themselves an interesting year. After being picked to finish third in the six team SoCon, they started off their campaign up in Maryland with a loss to then-#16 Johns Hopkins. Okay, sure, fine. This past Sunday, however, they went off to North Carolina to see what’s up with #2 Duke... and walked away with a 14-12 win! It wasn’t even that close, as the ‘Phins were up 14-9 after a goal from Jacob Greiner with 3:43 to go, and the Blue Devils then scored almost immediately off the draw and then twice in the final 90 seconds.

That gave them their #15 ranking in the new Inside Lacrosse top 20 poll on Monday, and they followed that up with a monster 21-12 stomping of SoCon foe Mercer. That one was a neutral site game in Savannah and does not count in the conference standings, but the fact of the matter is that the Dolphins ripped off eight straight goals in the second quarter to roll to the win.

The Dolphins have a pair of guys who are averaging a hat trick per game so far this season. Max Waldbaum, a 6’2” grad student from Colorado, has scored at least four goals in all three JU games this season so far, while Jacob Greiner got to 10 goals on the year with five against Mercer. The redshirt sophomore from Pennsylvania still posted a hat trick against Hopkins, so he’s got that kind of form already this season. No one else on the roster has more than three goals so far this year, so Marquette’s focus has to be on limiting lanes for those two guys.

Stopping Jackson Intrieri has to be #3 on the list of things to do, though. The 6’2” freshman attacker took advantage of the 21 goals against the Bears to rack up five assists and get to seven helpers on the year. If he’s in a rhythm with his shooters after Tuesday’s game, then that’s going to be a problem for Marquette’s defense to deal with all day long.

It’ll most likely be Luke Millican in net for the Dolphins. He’s played all but 10 minutes this season, and those 10 came against Mercer. He’s allowing just 10.93 goals per 60 minutes through three games, but more importantly, he’s stopping nearly 57% of shots on goal. Against Duke and Hopkins? 54%, with saves on 27 of 50 shots on goal. This is pretty notable because JU is getting outshot 139-113 on the year, and when your goalie is making all those extra shots go to waste, that’s pretty helpful to you as a team.