March 12, 2013
MACON, Ga. - Led by attackman Bryan Badolato, who scored five second-half goals, Marquette rallied from a pair of three-goal deficits to defeat Mercer 14-11 Tuesday at the Moye Football/Lacrosse Complex.
MU also held the Bears (3-3) scoreless for a 21-minute stretch in the final half, as the Golden Eagles evened their record to 2-2 overall, handing Mercer its first home loss of the season.
"These guys are becoming a team, and the more time we spend together I think the more they see how important this is, and on game day it's worth fighting for their teammates," said MU head coach Joe Amplo. "They wanted to win. We played like Marquette lacrosse players in the second half."
Leading scorer Conor Gately, who matched Badolato, with a game-high seven points, opened the scoring to give Marquette an early 1-0 lead five minutes into the game. But Mercer responded with four straight goals to grab a 4-1 advantage at the end of the first period.
Melnyk and Gately registered the first two tallies of the second quarter to pull the Golden Eagles to within one at 4-3, and pole Jerry Nobile later scored his first collegiate goal to tie it up at 6-6 at the 4:39 mark.
Mercer answered with back-to-back goals from Chris Baxa to close out the opening half. Baxa's goals came just 29 seconds apart, including a man-up goal with under three minutes left as MU's Cullen Cassidy was assessed a penalty on the faceoff, and the Bears led 8-6 at the break.
Badolato's first goal of the game was the first score of the second half, but Badolato and the Golden Eagles wouldn't stop there despite another man-up goal by Mercer at the 8:34 mark of the third quarter that extended the host's lead to 10-7.
The Bears would not score again until their lone fourth-quarter tally with 1:42 remaining in the game.
Meanwhile, Badolato went on the score the next three goals to knot it at 10-10. Assisted by the stingy MU defense, the Golden Eagles out-scored Mercer 4-1 in the final stanza.
"Bryan deserves all the credit in the world, because he deserves it -- when he's on, he's on," said Amplo. "But it was a team effort. They played like warriors in the second half and a sense of urgency on so many little plays that we didn't see in the first half. We picked up a couple of big ground balls in the second half that I think helped keep the momentum on our side."
Marquette goalie JJ Sagl had seven saves, including four stops in the first quarter. MU finished with a 39-32 advantage on ground balls, led by six ground balls by long stick Liam Byrnes. Three other MU players - Nobile, BJ Grill and Connor Bernal - recorded five ground balls apiece.
The Golden Eagles had 25 shots on goal on the offensive end, compared to 18 for the Bears. Melnyk, an attackman, added five points on two goals and three assists, after starting the game in the midfield.
Marquette wraps up its three-game road trip Saturday, March 16, at Saint Joseph's (11 a.m. CT/noon ET).