Saturday’s men’s lacrosse game between Marquette and Villanova went through several stages of “wait, is this happening?” but at the end of 60 minutes, it was the visiting Wildcats highfiving after getting a 10-8 win over the Golden Eagles at Valley Fields. Marquette is now 4-9 on the year and 2-2 in Big East play.
That’s the bad news of the day, and we’ll get into the details of exactly what happened in a second. The good news of the day is that Providence took a 16-3 loss at home to Denver on Saturday, while St. John’s fell 23-6 to Georgetown in Washington. That dropped both of those teams to 0-4 on the season and thus clinched a Big East tournament berth for the Golden Eagles. Marquette has just one game remaining this season, and so they can’t finish any worse than 2-3 in the league. That’s clearly out in front of both the Friars and the Red Storm, so that’s that.
As for MU’s game on Saturday, it started out nicely with Bobby O’Grady breaking his own team record for goals in a season to put the Golden Eagles up 1-0 less than 90 seconds in. That brought us to Stage 1 of the game, which was “oh, Villanova’s going to wreck them.” Over the next six-ish minutes, the Wildcats scored four times, including two goals from Patrick Daly and a man-up goal from Matt Campbell, and boom: 4-1 Villanova with five minutes left in the first. Not ideal, and looking like this is going in a bad direction.
Bring on Stage 2, which was “wait, Marquette’s got something for them.” Pierce Washburn answered Campbell’s man-up goal with one of his own to kick off a 4-0 Golden Eagles run that bridged into the second quarter. 4-3 Wildcats at the break turned into 5-4 Golden Eagles with 11:44 left before halftime, and we had ourselves a ballgame for a stretch here.
That meant, of course, it was time for Stage 3, which we didn’t realize was happening until much later. Stage 3 was “Marquette’s not going to score for more than 23 minutes” and that sucked badly. It started with two goals from Luke Keating before halftime to make it 6-5 Villanova at intermission, and then it kept going with three more from the Wildcats to start off the third quarter. It was a slow drip of goals though, as it took VU over 10 minutes to get those three after halftime.
For my money, Nova’s 7th goal of the game was the backbreaker in the whole affair. For starters, it was VU’s first goal of the second half, and put them up two goals for the first time since late in the first quarter. Second, it was the sequencing of what happened. After Marquette forced a shot clock violation from the Wildcats on their first possession of the period, MU had a chance to tie the game at six..... and a pass just plinked off Justin Mintzer’s stick as he set himself to shoot with no one near him. Turnover, Wildcats go the other way, and a quick shot from Campbell goes wide, but VU maintains possession. They end up taking more than a minute off the shot clock before firing a shot that gets saved by Michael Allieri. What happens next can only be described as a scramble right in front of Allieri, but far enough away where he can’t extend his stick to get involved to control the ball, and Villanova’s Tucker Goodelle flails a shot — sorry, Tucker, but there’s no other way to properly describe what happened here — past Allieri and into the net.
Marquette had made the stop, their second straight to start the half..... but they couldn’t get the ball away from the net after Allieri came up with the save, and boink, it was in the net. 7-5, VU’s third straight goal.
The Golden Eagles got a goal from Jake Stegman late in the third quarter to snap the Wildcats’ run and bring Stage 3 to an end. Still, somehow, this game was not over, as it was 9-6 Villanova with over 17 minutes of action left to go. A goal from Luke Blanc with 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter made it 9-7 Wildcats, and for a moment there, it became Stage 4: “Marquette needs a stop and a goal, and we’re on to something here.” This one did not last very long, as Keating scored, yes again, to make it 10-7 with 7:58 to go. That was probably the dagger for Marquette, since it was going to be a whole thing for MU to score three times in seven minutes to tie the game when they had just seven goals in the 52 minutes that had already been played.
Nolan Garcia did get Marquette their goal, making it 10-8 with 3:31 to go, and they got nothing but stops the rest of the way, but Villanova did their part. They were more than happy to take advantage of three Marquette penalties in the final eight minutes to just grind the clock to dust, and MU wasn’t willing to chance more calls against them.
Three Golden Eagles scored twice on the day, but Bobby O’Grady takes home the top point total of the afternoon since he added an assist to his total. Luke Williams did a hell of a job on faceoffs for Marquette, going 11-for-20. Michael Allieri was outstanding in net for Marquette, backing up his field defense to the tune of 17 saves to give MU a chance to put goals in the net on the other end.
How about some highlights, courtesy of GoMarquette.com?
Up Next: Season finale time! The Golden Eagles have one regular season game left to go, and as is seemingly tradition at this point, it’s against Denver. The Pioneers are 8-5 on the year and winners of three straight after beating Providence 16-3 in Rhode Island on Saturday. Denver was ranked #19 in the country last week when they were only 7-5 on the season, so it stands to reason they’ll still be ranked in the Inside Lacrosse poll when it updates on Monday morning. It will be Marquette’s first night game of the season, with first draw set for 8pm Central time in Colorado.