Well, here we are.
Last week, we laid out the explanation as to why it miiiiiight be hard for Marquette men’s lacrosse to find a way to at least 2-3 in Big East play this season if they didn’t beat Providence. Long story short in case you missed it: Marquette hasn’t beaten any of the trio of Denver, Georgetown, and Villanova since 2019, and those teams are currently #19, #10, and #11 respectively in the Inside Lacrosse top 20 poll.
How did Marquette handle the situation? They gave up five straight goals after scoring first, never got closer than two goals, and were trailing by four with three minutes to play before tacking on two more to never really have a chance to beat the Friars and lost, 16-14.
It’s not what you want.
It’s also probably not what the Big East wanted when they arranged to have Marquette host the Big East tournament, either. The pathway to Marquette finishing top four in the league and thus even playing in the event at Valley Fields got very narrow and poorly lit last week. Barring some absolute wildness, Marquette is now going to have to beat at least one of the three ranked opponents to get to the conference tournament.
We can talk about their ability to do that down the road, because now they have a much bigger problem on their hands. This week they have to not lose a game of Red Storm Roulette. Marquette is going to have to beat at least one of the ranked teams to get to the Big East tournament, sure..... but that’s only if they beat the winless on the year St. John’s team that’s coming to Milwaukee on Saturday.
This isn’t officially a must-win game for Marquette. That’s how the math works when it’s Game #2 of 5 and you probably only need two wins to be in the conversation. It is, however, a “I don’t know how you’re going to beat a ranked team, much less two of them, if you can’t beat this team” game. Get this win, and worry about how you’re going to beat Denver, Georgetown, or Villanova later.
IMPORTANT PROGRAMMING NOTE: This game will be the front half of a doubleheader with the women’s lacrosse team. Their game against Xavier is scheduled to start at 2:30pm Central, so it’s not a quick turnaround, but I highly recommend that you stick around to see the 11-1 Golden Eagles attempt to extend the best start in program history. Bring a book, etc.
Big East Game #2: vs St. John’s Red Storm (0-10, 0-1 Big East)
Marquette is 9-1 all time against St. John’s. The Red Storm took the first ever encounter, 15-10, back in 2013, but it’s been all Golden Eagles ever since. That isn’t to say that there hasn’t been some thrillers in there, as the two sides have gone to overtime three times, and the second meeting in the COVID protocol 2021 season was a one goal game in Queens. Marquette won in Queens last season 23-13 as Bobby O’Grady broke the program record for goals in a game.
Last spring, Jason Miller resigned his position as the St. John’s men’s lacrosse coach. That came after 16 seasons on the sideline, and after going 2-12 in 2022, the Red Storm hadn’t had a winning season since going 9-4 in 2013. That streak is not ending this season, as Justin Turri’s first campaign has started with 10 straight losses. That’s 16 straight losses overall for St. John’s, and they’re just 2-32 in their last 34 games dating back to the second game of the 2021 season. The closest that they’ve come to a win this year was a 13-12 loss on the road against Binghamton, and there’s an argument that one is their most deflating loss of the season. St. John’s led 11-9 with 13 minutes to go in the fourth quarter after tallying four unanswered goals, and they scored to answer two straight from Binghamton to take a 12-11 lead with two minutes to go. Still lost, and in regulation, too.
Brian Kelly (no, not the LSU football coach) is St. John’s biggest offensive threat. He leads the team in goals and assists, and thus has the team lead in points, too. It’s a wide lead, doubling up everyone else, and that’s largely because he has 16 of SJU’s 50 assists on the season when no one else has more than eight. Over in the goals column, Kelly is just one ahead of Connor Kalmus’ 17 strikes, and Kelly has a three goal lead on Sean Duffy’s 15. Kalmus is the more dangerous shooter of the three, connecting on 35% of his swings, but as you can tell with no one averaging even two goals per game, the Johnnies lack a dominant offensive threat that draws the defense’s attention 100% of the time.
One thing that Marquette can do to help suffocate the St. John’s offense? Win draws. St. John’s is grabbing up a faceoff just 27% of the time this season. Their top two guys in attempts — John Mavlios and Gavin Legg — are both south of 25% with Legg going just 9-for-57. That’s the whole team for the whole season, though. Jake Oemcke went 12-for-23 against #6 Villanova last week, so expect him to take a whole bunch of the draws against Marquette.
Kyle Munson is most likely your starting netminder for the Johnnies, as he’s started nine of their 10 games this season. He’s doing a decent job swatting balls away from his net, making the save on 49% of shots on goal. However, because the Red Storm aren’t exactly blowing you away on the dot and the offense is a little underwhelming, Munson’s giving up goals regularly. St. John’s is getting outshot by nearly 10 shots per game on average, and that’s turned into 15.01 goals per 60 minutes going into Munson’s net. The Villanova game is a perfect example of how his year is going, as he made TWENTY saves..... and let in 18 goals in an 18-8 loss.