Marquette Tops Rutgers 14-13 In First-Ever BIG EAST Win
March 29, 2014
PISCATAWAY, N.J. - The Marquette University men's lacrosse team added another chapter to the history books by claiming its first-ever BIG EAST Conference victory, defeating Rutgers 14-13 in dramatic fashion on a rainy Saturday afternoon at High Point Solutions Stadium.
Following a Golden Eagles' timeout, sophomore attackman Conor Gately scored the game-winner with 16 seconds remaining in regulation, capping off a see-saw fourth-quarter battle between the two sides.
Classmate Paul Riportella won the last two faceoffs of the contest against arguably the best faceoff specialist in college lacrosse, Rutgers' Joseph Nardella, to help secure the victory.
"From a fan's perspective it must have been a fun game to watch, and I think our kids had fun out there today," said MU head coach Joe Amplo. "We were fortunate that we were able to make one more play than Rutgers there at the end. And credit to Paul Riportella, who figured out a way to make it scrappy and find a way to win a faceoff when we needed it."
Marquette redshirt senior Tyler Melnyk had single-game program record eight points, including five goals, to pace the Golden Eagles' attack, while freshman goalie Jimmy Danaher had a collegiate high 12 saves.
With the win, MU improves to 3-6 on the season (1-1 BIG EAST). The Scarlet Knights, who were receiving votes in both of major polls entering this week, have now lost two straight to fall to 6-4 overall (1-2 BIG EAST).
Marquette raced out to a 3-0 lead behind back-to-back tallies by Melnyk midway through the first quarter. Rutgers responded by notching four of the next five scores to tie it up at 4-4 with just under six minutes remaining in the first half. MU's Ben Dvorak recorded his first goal of the season to open the second quarter, sandwiched between a pair of back-to-back strikes by the Scarlet Knights.
Melnyk would pick up his ninth career hat trick late in the first half to give the Golden Eagles a 5-4 advantage going into the locker room at halftime.
Rutgers came back to tie it up 6-6 on a transition goal by Brian Goss at the 6:24 mark of the third quarter, but Golden Eagles freshman Ryan McNamara scored two of the next three MU goals en route to his first collegiate hat trick to make it 9-6.
MU grabbed its largest lead of the afternoon, 10-6, when Melnyk opened the fourth quarter with his fifth tally of the day. But the Scarlet Knights erased the four-point deficit with a 5-0 run to knot it up at 10-10 on a strike by Scott Bieda with 6:28 left to play, and Rutgers took its first - and only -- lead of the game at 11-10 a mere 11 seconds later.
"This victory further proves how resilient our kids are," said Amplo. "No matter what is thrown at them, they make the most of it and find a way to get it done. When Rutgers came back to tie it in the fourth quarter, I told them you can't worry about how you got here, but that they have to focus on the next play and that's what they did."
Liam Byrnes tied it back up at 11-11 with six minutes left on the clock. Gately then scored twice down the stretch, including the go-ahead after Rutgers evened the score at 13-13 with 47 seconds remaining in regulation.
B.J. Grill posted a team-high five groundballs and three caused turnovers to lead Marquette.
It's a quick turnaround for the Golden Eagles who return home to Hart Park this Tuesday for a non-conference tilt against Bellarmine. Game time has been moved up to 5 p.m. Central time.