Are you ready for lacrosse yet? Of course not, we’re not done doing season previewing for Marquette men’s lacrosse! We’ve already done a rundown on the guys returning from last season, as well as all the new faces on the roster. Go check those out if you haven’t already, as they’re pretty crucial to all of this season previewing.
Here, we’re going to ask three big questions about this upcoming season. Are there bigger questions facing the Golden Eagles? Maybe, but these are the ones that jumped out at me, and if you’ve got questions rumbling around in your head, fire them up in the comments and we’ll try to hack around through them.
QUESTION #1: What will Bobby O’Grady do for an encore?
Last year, as a freshman, Bobby O’Grady broke the single season goals record. He didn’t break it by a little. He became the second Marquette player to ever record 37 goals and then the second to ever record 40, tying Ryan McNamara’s record..... and then he just kept on going to a new single season record of 45. To put this in proper perspective: O’Grady added five assists to his goal total to post just the fourth 50 point season in Marquette history. O’Grady is the only player in program history to ever average a hat trick per game for an entire season. Bobby O’Grady’s 45 goals in his freshman season are currently tied with Connor McClelland for the eighth most goals in a Marquette career. He has the third most man-up goals in a Marquette career. He is in a six-way tie for the fourth most game-winning goals in a Marquette career. O’Grady is 50 points away from putting together the fourth 100 point Marquette career, and this is will be his second season. He is 55 goals away from being the second MU player to ever reach 100 career goals.
Do you get it? Are you picking up what I’m putting down? The Massachusetts native is already re-writing our expectations for what is possible. What’s next? The first 50 goal season? The first 60 point season? Will having a consistent supporting cast around him (more on this in a minute) help O’Grady put up even more goals and points in 2023 because there’s just going to be a better continuity and familiarity amongst the attacking group?
Is there a ceiling as to what’s possible for Bobby O’Grady in 2023?
QUESTION #2: Can Andrew Stimmel finally get a normal season?
Just one? Just one normal, boring, we have practice, we have a game, we wash the uniforms, we get on and off the bus, nothing interesting happens season?
Andrew Stimmel was announced as the second head coach in Marquette men’s lacrosse history on June 14, 2019. Almost exactly nine months later, his first season in charge was ended after seven games because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Year 2 was the “we’re just going to play a bunch of Big East games this year because we can all agree on the protocols that the league hands down” season, which led to the Golden Eagles playing one of the hardest schedules in Division 1 that season and almost assuredly in program history all while navigating trying to figure out how to get a lacrosse team to practice regularly as COVID vaccines were slowly rolling out.
It looked like Year 3, the 2022 campaign, was going to be a normal boring year for Stimmel to finally get his boots set...... and then he had just 11 players appear in all 15 games. Offense, defense, midfield, whatever, whoever, the Golden Eagles were beset by injuries almost from the word Go last spring. So now we’re here, the start of Year 4. Stimmel is 11-23 as Marquette’s head coach, partly because he had a first year team that needed a bunch of freshmen to play, partly because he played ranked team after ranked team in his second year, and partly because he couldn’t field a consistent lineup from game to game in his third year.
Can we just get some lacrosse here? Just 14 regular season games worth of running back and forth on the field, maybe some postseason action to add some spice to life? Nothing crazy? Please? For Coach Stimmel at least, and if not for him, then at least for his poor overworked meditation app?
QUESTION #3: What is the definition of success for this year’s team?
Last year, All-American defender Mason Woodward said that the goal for the team was to win the Big East tournament and then win a game in the NCAA tournament. They fell short of that mark, posting a record of 4-11.
That sounds like it was not a success. It obviously didn’t live up to Woodward’s goals for the year, but also it wasn’t that far away from it. Through all the injuries and lineup changes, two of Marquette’s four wins a year ago came in Big East play, and that was enough to get them into the conference tournament as the fourth and final team to qualify.
With that in mind, we can’t say “making the Big East tournament is a successful season.” No one thinks going 4-11 with a record of 2-3 in the league is a success. I think it’s reasonable that MU could go 2-3 in the Big East again this year, but still make the conference tournament. Don’t get me wrong: Making the conference tournament has to be a Must Accomplish item for the Golden Eagles, because they are hosting the tournament this spring. It would be really bad for the league if Marquette misses the field.
This schedule is also kind of unforgiving, at least in the eyes of the Inside Lacrosse media poll. Marquette will play three of the top five teams in the country in the preseason poll — Georgetown, Cornell, and Notre Dame — and Denver’s kicking around in the preseason top 20 as well. Michigan, Utah, and Villanova are all receiving votes in the preseason poll and could easily be ranked by the time that Marquette gets around to playing any of them.
That’s literally half of Marquette’s schedule right there.
Is merely finishing with a winning record — aka defeating at least one of the seven teams I just rattled off and running the table against everyone else — the definition for this season? Given how Stimmel’s first three years have gone, it certainly feels like that could be the case.