Marquette Golden Eagles men’s lacrosse is 1-1 after two games. Not a big deal, because the loss ended up being against a Jacksonville team that suddenly exploded into the Inside Lacrosse top 20 after beating Duke and looking pretty good against Johns Hopkins. The question, then, is what was different for Marquette between their triple overtime win against Bellarmine and their four goal loss to the Dolphins?
At a glance, according to Lacrosse Reference, MU’s defense didn’t withstand the pressure from Jacksonville. Marquette’s offense was better in Week Two, with shooting percentage, shot on goal percentage, and overall efficiency taking a notable tick upwards. Turnovers need to get cleaned up as MU’s turnover rate ranks just 56th in the country, and there’s not even 100 teams.
The defense, though.... mmm, not so much. MU’s shot on goal rate on that end of the field was about the same, but the shooting percentage went way up. In short: Marquette gave up better looks to the Dolphins and thus more of them went past Mike Allieri. The turnover rate was also way down, although that’s barely fair to Marquette. I mean, c’mon, you’re not going to create a 48% turnover rate all season long. But if you’re not getting stops on shots, then the only other avenue open to you is forcing turnovers to stop those shots from happening, so it’s a give and go situation there.
Defensive captain Mason Woodward was very clear about his goals for the team this season: A Big East tournament title and an appearance in the NCAA tournament. That’s going to require beating top 20 caliber teams this season. Right now, MU is oh-fer on their opportunities to prove that they can do that, and the indications seem to be it was Woodward’s unit that ends up most on the hook for that. Luckily, it appears that Marquette is going to get chance after chance after chance this season to prove they belong amongst the nation’s elite teams, and that includes this Saturday.
An aside: I don’t particularly care for this game being scheduled during Saturday’s National Marquette Day basketball game. I get that no one really wants to start a lacrosse game at 9am to allow everyone who might want to (namely me) get from the Valley to Fiserv for both games. But could we get a 4pm start to go the other way, maybe? That’s a reasonable time to play! You get to advertise for the lacrosse game during the basketball game! C’mon!
Game #3: vs RV Utah Utes (1-1)
Date: Saturday, February 26, 2022
Time: 1pm Central
Location: Andy Glockner Memorial Bubble, Valley Fields, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Streaming: Marquette Athletics on YouTube
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteMLax
This is the first ever meeting between Marquette and Utah. That has more to do with this being the fourth season of competition for the Utes than anything else. Saturday will be just the 35th game in Utah history.
Season #4 is off to a pretty strong start for the Utes. They opened up the campaign with a 14-13 loss to then-#12 Denver in a game that drew over 2,000 people to Utah’s football stadium. Utah actually held a 10-8 lead in that game late in the third quarter before the Pioneers poured on a 4-0 run to take control and hold off the home team. Game #2 of the year was the big one relative to that RV next to their name right now. It looked like it was going to be a repeat of the Denver game as the Utes went up 10-5 early in the fourth quarter, but then-#17 Vermont popped off five straight goals in less than eight minutes to tie the thing up. Josh Rose was the hero of the day, as it was his goal with just under 90 seconds to go that gave Utah their first ever win over a ranked opponent. Can’t argue that they didn’t deserve it after giving Denver fits in the first outing of the year, that’s for sure.
Jordan Hyde is the top goal scorer for Utah so far this season. He had four goals in the opener to help him get to a team high six so far this season. Hyde’s three assists give him nine total points on the year, and that puts him in a tie with Tyler Bradbury for the team lead in that department. As you can probably guess, Bradbury is the team leader in assists to help him get into that tie with Hyde, and he has handed out five assists already this season, with three coming against the Catamounts last time out. We should probably mention Jared Andreala here as well. The 6’2” sophomore midfielder from North Carolina had a hat trick against Vermont, and he’s tied with Hyde for the most shots on the year with 12. He might not quite jump off the stat sheet at you right now, but it’s clear that the Utes are looking for him to score quite a bit this season.
Zion Dechesere has played all 120 minutes in net so far this season, so there’s no reason to think that will change on Saturday. The Nevada native started in six of Utah’s seven games last season, so he’s definitely battle tested at this point. Through two games, he’s stopping 44% of shots on goal.
One thing to keep an eye on is Utah’s face-off situation. Cole Brams has taken every draw so far this season for the Utes. That’s not surprising, as he took all but 18 of them a year ago. However, in 2021, Brams won just over 50% of his faceoffs, and through two games, he’s only at 42.9%. Part of that is obviously because Utah has played two ranked teams, and you tend to see great face-off rates for ranked teams. It’s easier to win when you have the ball over and over, obviously. It’s worth noting that Marquette has won 54% of their faceoffs so far this year, and both Thomas Washington (59%) and Luke Williams (50%) are at least 50/50 on their draws. If Marquette can parlay that into an advantage with one guy or the other against Brams, then that’s going to give the Golden Eagles a solid edge in this game.