The good news about Marquette’s 13-7 win over Detroit Mercy last Saturday? The thing was never in doubt after Bobby O’Grady scored four of the Golden Eagles’ seven goals in the second quarter. That left MU up 10-3 at intermission and they could focus on playing solid lacrosse instead of worrying about anything else.
That’s important because two of MU’s top three scorers so far this season missed that game and are out indefinitely. In just three games this year, Russell Melendez has five goals and five assists. Devon Cowan had played in all four of MU’s games before Saturday, tallying five goals and three assists. Neither man will be available this weekend, and while “indefinitely” sounds an awful lot like “we expect them back by May because we didn’t say out for the year,” it’s not a good sign for the short term future. Nolan Rappis going down with an injury in Saturday’s game after going for a hat trick against Michigan wasn’t great, either.
Combine that with defender Zach Granger also riding the “out indefinitely” gondola, and Marquette’s got themselves a bit of a problem to work through going forward. The hope would be, obviously, that the UDM game gave the Golden Eagles a chance to work out a couple of kinks in the system. That’s important, because this Saturday’s game is one of just three remaining before Big East play starts.
Remember: Marquette has set themselves a goal of winning the Big East tournament this season. That means winning games in Big East regular season action to just get in, not to mention those two postseason games. There’s a lot of very good teams in the league this year, and it’s good that Marquette has fought valiantly against teams earning votes in the Inside Lacrosse top 20 this season.... but they’ve also lost all three of those games so far.
By the way: This game will be the front half of a doubleheader with the women’s team. Well, mostly a doubleheader, I guess. The men will be playing from 11am until approximately 1pm, while Meredith Black’s team will start off against Kent State at 3pm. Close enough, right?
Game #6: vs Drexel Dragons (3-2)
Date: Saturday, March 12, 2022
Time: 11am Central
Location: Andy Glockner Memorial Bubble, Valley Fields, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Streaming: Marquette Athletics on YouTube
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteMLax
Marquette is 0-1 all time against Drexel. The only other meeting in this series came back in February 2020 when the two sides squared off on Leap Day. Drexel got the 13-11 victory in that one after it was tied at 11 with five minutes to go.
Drexel started off their season with back-to-back road losses. UMBC and Lafayette got wins over the Dragons on their home fields, and as it turns out, the 12-8 margin in Drexel’s opener against the Retrievers is the largest margin they’ve seen all year. The two goal loss to Lafayette was followed by a two goal win at home over Albany, then a two goal win at LIU, and then just back on Tuesday, a one goal win, 18-17, over Saint Joseph’s.
With Drexel getting to at least 10 goals in each of their last four games, Marquette’s offense is going to have to be ready to try and match them, and the defense is going to have to be on point to limit the Dragons. 11 of their 61 goals this season have come by way of the power play, just over two per game on average, so limiting dumb penalties will have to be high on the list of things to do.
Next up will be figuring out how to slow them down. Sean Donnelly (12 goals) and Max Semple (10 goals) are both averaging more than two goals a game this season, and Semple’s actually doing better than that since he missed the opener. Jack Mulcahy’s 11 assists on the season combines with his six goals to get him to second on the Drexel roster in points behind Donnelly’s 18 on the year so far. As a team, they have 40 assists on their 61 goals, so disrupting the passing might be the best thing that MU can do to slow them down.
MU’s biggest advantage in this one? Might actually be faceoffs. Drexel has only won 33% of their draws this year. Three different guys have taken at least 25 faceoffs so far, and Liam Rosato’s 42% conversion rate is the best amongst the three of them. Marquette’s faceoff guys have come up with over 54% of the draws this season, and if MU can play some make-it-take-it lacrosse along the way, that should slow down the Drexel offense pretty well. Can’t score if you don’t even have the ball, after all.