Marquette's first men's lacrosse home opener is two years in the making - hear what the Golden Eagles hope to show fans in their first home game at Hart Park against Detroit on Saturday, April 20.
In just four seasons of competition, Joe Amplo has built the Marquette program into a BIG EAST Conference Champion and established himself as one of the top head coaches in NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse.
Amplo, a Team USA assistant coach and member of the NCAA Division I Men’s Lacrosse Committee, was named the first head coach in Marquette history on Feb. 4, 2011 and has built a program in his likeness to national relevance.
Marquette has qualified for the semifinals of the BIG EAST tournament during each year as a league member and has increased its overall win total each season. Ten Golden Eagles have earned 16 All-BIG EAST honors in three conference campaigns, while five players have earned USILA All-America recognition and five have been selected in either the NLL or MLL drafts.
The 2014 BIG EAST Conference Coach of the Year guided the Golden Eagles to a 10-win campaign in just their third season of competition in 2015 and in 2016 led Marquette to its first-ever NCAA tournament appearance on the heels of a victory over No. 1 Denver in the BIG EAST Championship game. The Golden Eagles earned a No. 6 national seed in the NCAA playoffs and fell to eventual NCAA Champion North Carolina by a single goal in the first NCAA tournament game ever played in the state of Wisconsin.
Marquette’s victory over the Pioneers to claim the BIG EAST’s automatic NCAA bid snapped an NCAA-high 22-game home winning streak at Peter Barton Stadium for DU and handed the Pios their first loss to a BIG EAST team since joining the league in 2014, a span of 21 games. The victory also set a new program benchmark with MU’s 11th win of the season after the Golden Eagles went 4-1 in BIG EAST regular season play.
The Marquette defense ranked among the nation’s leaders all of 2016, leading to recognition for MU’s three MLL draft picks in graduate students Liam Byrnes and B.J. Grill and senior Jacob Richard. Byrnes was named the 2016 BIG EAST Conference Defensive Player of the Year, a first team all-league performer, the most outstanding player at the BIG EAST tournament and a USILA Second Team All-American. Grill and Richard were both named to the USILA All-America Third Team and were second team all-conference performers, though Richard was the only short stick defensive midfielder selected to any All-BIG EAST team.
The Golden Eagles reached a ranking as high as ninth nationally in 2015 in the Inside Lacrosse Media Poll after beginning the year with seven-straight victories and ended the year just two spots outside the top 20. Marquette's hot start was highlighted by four one-goal wins, including a pair over ranked opponents, and thrilling come-from-behind wins at Richmond in overtime and Ohio State, an NCAA tournament team, in early March. MU began the 2015 season with a 10-9 win at then-No. 18/16 Lehigh on Feb. 7 and picked up a second win against Amplo's alma mater in as many tries by topping then-No. 17/19 Hofstra on Feb. 14.
His second season as head coach marked Marquette's first year of BIG EAST competition, which resulted in conference coach of the year honors for Amplo. The Golden Eagles, who played the 14th-toughest schedule in 2014 according to Inside Lacrosse, picked up their first win against Hofstra, which was ranked as high as No. 11 nationally in 2014. Marquette posted a 4-2 conference record that included overtime wins over St. John's and Georgetown and finished second overall in the BIG EAST to earn MU's first ever postseason appearance.
Under Amplo's direction, four Marquette players garnered All-BIG EAST recognition in 2014, including Grill, who was the only defenseman unanimously selected to the First Team. Grill was joined on the first team by attackman Tyler Melnyk, who also earned a USILA All-America Honorable Mention after scoring 36 goals and tallying 51 points.
Marquette's first-ever season of men's lacrosse in 2013 included a three-game winning streak in April as the squad finished 5-8 overall. The Golden Eagles first win in program history at Air Force came in just the second game for the first-year program.
Amplo came to Marquette with 11 years of collegiate coaching experience, 10 of which came at his alma mater, Hofstra University. He served as associate head coach with the Pride for three years, and was the team's defensive coordinator.
During his time at Hofstra, Amplo participated in 11 NCAA Championships, three as a student-athlete and eight as a coach, the most recent of which came in 2011. That year, Hofstra had the nation's No. 1 defense, boasting the lowest goals against average in the country.
"Joe's story of non-recruited walk-on to all-conference performer will serve as an inspiration to future Marquette men's lacrosse student-athletes," said Mike Broeker, Deputy Athletic Director. "While better understanding his ideals and values, it became quite evident Joe was the ideal person to build our program. Those who know him best talked of an excellent lacrosse coach and skill developer, but more importantly characterized him as family man of great integrity; a selfless teammate who displayed tremendous work ethic and perseverance; and an educator committed to being more than just a coach to the young men in his program. We are so pleased to welcome Joe and his family to Marquette."
Amplo joined the Hofstra coaching staff as a graduate assistant in 1999 and remained there until 2001 when he took an assistant coaching position at the University of Pennsylvania. After one year at Penn, Amplo returned to Long Island where he remained through the 2011 season.
"I am extremely grateful to be chosen as the first head men's lacrosse coach at Marquette University," Amplo said upon being named head coach in 2011. "I have dreamed about the opportunity to lead a Division I lacrosse program and after better understanding, and seeing first-hand, Marquette's commitment to lacrosse, I realized quickly this was the perfect opportunity to pursue. I am blessed to have been mentored by some incredible people throughout my career, individuals who taught me to work hard, believe in myself, be accountable and always do the right thing. This decision was easy once I realized members of the Marquette community embody those same ideals. It truly is the perfect fit for me and my family."
In his first stint with Hofstra, Amplo worked under then-head coach John Danowski, now the coach of three-time NCAA Champion Duke University.
Following his return to Hofstra in 2003, the Pride posted a 76-49 record and advanced to five NCAA Championships. He has coached 53 all-conference players at Hofstra, including five conference players of the year, four rookies of the year and 21 all-Americans. One of those players, Doug Shannahan, earned the Tewaaraton Award in 2001, honoring the top player in college lacrosse. Amplo has also coached another Tewaaraton Award finalist in Chris Unterstein, 13 North-South All-Stars and six USILA Scholar All-Americans at Hofstra.
As a student-athlete, he was an All-America East performer as a senior in 1999 when he started all 16 games and led the school to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championship. He played in 58 games in his career and notched 91 ground balls, 40 of which came during his senior season.
Amplo is active on the lecture circuit and is the founder of the Team Amplify, which operates clinics, camps and competitive club teams for the Milwaukee-area lacrosse community. He has also been involved with the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation and the Milwaukee Eagles wheelchair lacrosse team, which he partners with the Milwaukee VA Hospital to help coach disabled and able-bodied United States veterans.
The Farmingville, New York, native attended Sachem High School in Lake Ronkonkoma, New York, where he earned four letters in both lacrosse and football and was an all-conference performer in both sports.
Amplo graduated from Hofstra in 2000 with a bachelor's degree in geography and earned a master's degree in college student counseling. He and his wife, Jennifer, reside in Cedarburg, Wisconsin and have three daughters, Sophia, Charlotte, and Lily.
What others said about Joe Amplo upon his hiring at MU...
Seth Tierney, head coach at Hofstra University: "While we are sorry to see Joe leave Hofstra, we are excited for his opportunity to become a head coach at an outstanding institution like Marquette University. Joe has worked hard, both as a player and a coach, to reach this level and we are happy for him. He brings the passion, intensity and knowledge to his position that will make him successful."
Bill Tierney, seven-time NCAA champion and head coach at University of Denver: "As Marquette University moves forward in its creation of a first-class Division I men's lacrosse program, it could not have done better than to hire Joe Amplo. Joe is greatly respected in the collegiate lacrosse coaching community and everyone feels great about him getting his first chance to be a head coach. He was a great player and great assistant coach, but most importantly he has the passion and drive to make his team great, and I am sure he will accomplish that task".
John Danowski, three-time NCAA champion and head coach at Duke University: "Joe Amplo gets coaching. He understands the importance the position plays in the development of today's student-athlete. His strong sense of family, superb communication skills and his love of teaching has already given Marquette lacrosse an identity that their students and fans will be proud of."
Amplo's Coaching Record
MU did not play
BIG EAST Coach of the Year BIG EAST Semifinalist
BIG EAST Semifinalist Began year 7-0 Reached No. 9 in media poll
BIG EAST Tournament Champion No. 6 seed in NCAA Championship Ended season ranked No. 11/13
BIG EAST Tournament Champion NCAA Championship First Round Ended season ranked No. 18/16
AMPLO'S HONOREES AT MARQUETTE
USILA All-Americans 2017 Ryan McNamara (honorable mention) 2016 Liam Byrnes (second team) B.J. Grill, Jacob Richard (third team) Ryan McNamara (honorable mention) 2014 Tyler Melnyk (honorable mention)
Senior CLASS Award Senior All-Americans 2016 B.J. Grill (first team)
USILA North-South Selections 2015 Jordan Greenfield (A), Logan Tousaw (D)
BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year 2016 Liam Byrnes
All-BIG EAST (*-unanimous) 2017 (First Team) Ryan McNamara (Second Team) Cole Blazer, Andy DeMichiei, Nick Grill, Zachary Melillo, Tanner Thomson 2016 (First Team) Liam Byrnes, Ryan McNamara* (Second Team) Cole Blazer, Conor Gately, B.J. Grill, Zachary Melillo, Jacob Richard 2015 (First Team) Liam Byrnes*, B.J. Grill, Kyle Whitlow (Second Team) Conor Gately, Jordan Greenfield 2014 (First Team) B.J. Grill*, Tyler Melnyk (Second Team) Liam Byrnes, Kyle Whitlow
All-BIG EAST Championship (*-Most Outstanding Player) 2017 Cole Blazer*, Joe Dunn, Nicholas Eufrasio, Grant Preisler 2016 Liam Byrnes*, Cole Blazer, Zachary Melillo, Tanner Thomson 2015 Conor Gately, Dan Mojica 2014 Liam Byrnes
BIG EAST All-Academic 2016 (21) Matt Barone, Zach Barr, Liam Byrnes, Anthony Ciammaichella, Kyran Clarke, Michael Clemente, Brendon Connolly, Jimmy Danaher, Andy DeMichiei, Tyler Gilligan, Ted Goltzman, Brett Hornung, Phil McFarland, Scott McNamara, Dan Mojica, Bob Pelton, Robbie Pisano, Salvatore Vitale, John Wagner, Owen Weselak, Jack Zerrillo 2015 (25) Matt Barone, Cole Blazer, Anthony Ciammaichella, Michael Clemente, Griffin Connor, Jimmy Danaher, Andy DeMichiei, Tyler Gilligan, Ted Goltzman, B.J. Grill, Brett Hornung, Matt Lanza, Phil McFarland, Andy Myers, Dan Mojica, Henry Nelson, Robbie Pisano, Grant Preisler, Travis Schelhorn, Logan Tousaw, Pat Townsend, Salvatore Vitale, Owen Weselak, Kyle Whitlow, Jack Zerrillo 2014 (20) Matt Barone, Anthony Ciammaichella, Kyran Clarke, Michael Clemente, Griffin Connor, Andy DeMichiei, Joe Dunn, Ben Dvorak, Tyler Gilligan, B.J. Grill, Brett Hornung, Sam Lindsey, Phil McFarland, Matt Melnyk, Henry Nelson, Robbie Pisano, JJ Sagl Andrew Smistad, Logan Tousaw, Pat Townsend
Professional MLL Draft Picks 2016 Liam Byrnes (21 (3) Florida), Jacob Richard (35(4) New York) B.J. Grill (40(5) Denver) Supplemental: Conor Gately (13 (2) Rochester)