I think the message for Marquette men’s lacrosse right now has to be “Play a full 60 minutes of lacrosse.”
The Golden Eagles are 2-4 on the year through six games with a goal differential of -1. Four losses by a combined total of eight goals. One bad 6-2 quarter against #15 Jacksonville meant a loss. A bad 11 minutes against Utah turned a 6-5 lead into a 9-7 deficit in a one goal defeat. A bad eight minutes against #16 Michigan meant Marquette went from leading 5-3 to trailing 8-6. Marquette led 10-7 midway through the third quarter against Drexel and lost 11-10 in overtime after giving up the tying goal with just under five minutes to go in regulation.
This close. Over and over again, this close.
Credit where credit is due, all four of those teams were either ranked at the time, earning votes in the Inside Lacrosse top 20 poll at the time, or earning votes in the preseason poll. Quality teams to be clear, and Marquette was thisclose against all of them.
But they didn’t play a full 60 minutes of lacrosse.
Is it harder than ever to play a full 60 minutes of lacrosse the way that Marquette is capable with two offensive starters — Devon Cowan and Russell Melendez — out indefinitely and long time defensive stalwart Zach Granger joining those two in the sideline for the time being? Yeah, it is! But MU was still thisclose to beating Drexel. One more goal in the final 20 minutes, one more stop in that stretch, and Marquette is 3-3 right now. That’s how close the game was, even missing three starters.
It’s not a picnic, that’s for sure. But with Big East play right around the corner — Providence comes to Milwaukee to start conference action in exactly two weeks — Marquette needs to find an extra gear if they want to finish in the top four and qualify for the Big East tournament.
Game #7: at Robert Morris Colonials (2-4)
Marquette is 3-2 all time against Robert Morris. The two teams met every season between 2016 and 2020 and then last year’s COVID protocol complications interrupted the series. Marquette won the first two in the series and is also undefeated in Moon Township. Robert Morris won the last encounter back on March 7, 2020.
Robert Morris is 2-4 on the year, just like Marquette is, but you can definitely make an argument that RMU doing a little bit better relative to their schedule as of late. They played High Point last Friday and lost at home, 13-11, but that stopped them from getting to .500 on the year. The Colonials were coming off back-to-back wins a week ago after going down to Mercer and getting a 13-11 win and then shelling Canisius 23-6 at home. RMU did have to score four straight across the third and fourth quarter break to get within two of High Point, but they also cut the margin to just one goal with just under three minutes left, too. They had a chance to win, if nothing else, after trailing 11-5.
Those games came after Robert Morris opened up the year 0-3. They went down to Duke for the opener and took a 21-12 loss that was out of control after one quarter, they got doubled up in the first quarter in a 14-12 loss at home to Bucknell, and then got off to another bad start against Stony Brook out on Long Island in game #3.
The biggest thing that Marquette is going to have to watch out for in this game is Robert Morris’ pace. Lacrosse Reference has the Colonials rated as the third fastest paced offensive team in the country. There’s just seven seconds of difference pace-wise between Marquette and RMU, but that’s also the difference between #3 in the country and #47. LR says Marquette has the #19 defensive efficiency in the country, which is great, but that could be tested if the Colonials are going to get out and run a whole bunch.
The two numbers that have to get picked up quickly are #41 and #23 as Taggart Clark and Corson Kealey are the only two RMU players with more than eight goals through six games of action. Clark has 21 goals on the year along with five assists, while Kealey matches him in points at 26 on 18 goals and eight assists. Clark has scored at least one goal in every game this season, and the Mercer game was the only one where he was held under a hat trick. Kealey’s goals total is a little inflated by a six goal day against Stony Brook, but he’s still hit the net at least once in every game.
As you can kind of guess from the assist numbers that those two guys have, Robert Morris makes great use of passing to score. They have 53 assists on 85 goals this season, and four guys are averaging at least an assist per game. Jake Boudreau tops that chart at 10 helpers on the year, and weirdly, the 23 goals from the Canisius game is the only time that Boudreau didn’t register an assist.
Freshman Nate Randall has taken over as Robert Morris’ starting goalkeeper. The only game he didn’t start this season was the opener against Duke, and after 10 minutes of relief in that one, he’s started every contest since then. He hasn’t played every minute, coming off after 47 minutes against Stony Brook and after 48 minutes in the walloping of Canisius, but other than that, it’s been all him all the way through. The Michigan native is allowing just 12.19 goals per 60 minutes at this point of the year, and he’s just barely under 49% in terms of stopping shots on goal.