Men's Lacrosse Claims First Win, 8-6, at Air Force

Freshman goalie JJ Sagl made 14 saves Saturday and held Air Force scoreless for the first 25 minutes en route to MU's first win.

March 2, 2013

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USAFA, Colo. - Marquette's men's lacrosse team claimed the first win in the history of the program Saturday, edging Air Force 8-6 at Falcon Stadium. MU's first win comes two games into its inaugural season under rookie head coach Joe Amplo.

"Today we had an opportunity to win a lacrosse game," said Amplo. "That is unbelievably rewarding for our staff and their kids; they've earned everything they've gotten since they've been here. It was a great team victory."

It was a gritty performance on the road by the Golden Eagles (1-1), who never trailed Air Force (4-2) and never led by more than two goals.

MU raced out to a 2-0 lead while holding the Falcons scoreless for the first 25 minutes, including the first three minutes to start the second quarter when the Golden Eagles had to play a man down due to a penalty that occurred after the first period.

"We get a three-minute non-releasable penalty at a crucial point in the game, and our guys were mature and handled it well and held Air Force scoreless during that time," said Amplo. "I think that was the turning point in the game. If we gave up a goal or two during that span, it's a different ball game.  I think we built momentum from that and allowed us to be more comfortable for the rest of the game."

Air Force, which entered the week receiving votes in both of the NCAA Division I men's lacrosse polls, finally got on the scoreboard on its 16th shot of the game to make it 2-1 at the 5:04 mark of the second quarter. But that was the only tally allowed by Marquette in the first half, led by goalie JJ Sagl. The MU freshman finished with 14 saves, including nine stops in the opening stanza.

The Falcons went on to tie the game at 5-5 with back-to-back goals in the final 47 seconds of the third quarter after both teams traded a pair of goals earlier in the period.

Kyle Whitlow opened the fourth-quarter scoring, assisted by Tyler Melnyk, to help the Golden Eagles regain the lead, 6-5. Air Force's Tommy McKee answered by notching his fifth goal of the afternoon to knot the score at 6-6 with 4:22 to play, opening the door for a tense finish down the stretch.

Marquette redshirt junior Bryan Badolato got his hat trick moments later to ease the tension and Conor Gately sealed the Falcons' fate with an unassisted goal with 45 seconds remaining in regulation.

"There were so many little things that were against us at that point, but it's a testament to how hard our guys work," said Amplo. They are in unbelievable condition for a bunch of young guys playing in their second game, at altitude, to perform as highly as they did in the fourth quarter.

"It's a testament to our staff, [strength and conditioning coach] Todd Smith and the work he puts in with our guys and [athletic trainer] Jeremy Johnson and the work he does to keep our guys healthy."

Once the game clock hit 00:00, the celebration began for Marquette, which announced it was adding varsity men's and women's lacrosse in December 2010.

Gately matched Badolato with three points, adding two assists on the day. Air Force boasted a lopsided advantage on faceoffs, winning 13 of 16, and groundballs were even at 22 apiece.

Next up for Marquette is a three-game spring break trip, which begins next Saturday, March 9, at Jacksonville. MU will then play at Mercer (March 12) and at Saint Joseph's (March 16) before returning home to Milwaukee.




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