MLAX falls short at No. 1 Denver, 14-11
April 30, 2016
DENVER – The run to its first BIG EAST regular season title fell short for No. 19/18 Marquette on Saturday afternoon as No. 1 Denver pulled away from a halftime tie for a 14-11 victory at Peter Barton Stadium in Denver.
“Credit to our kids for almost coming back from (Denver’s six goal third quarter),” Marquette head coach Joe Amplo said. “If we could have made that six-goal run just a little bit less, who knows. They are the champions for a reason, because they can do that for you.”
Junior attackman Kyran Clarke and sophomore midfielder Tanner Thomson each recorded their first career hat tricks for the Golden Eagles (9-4, 4-1 BIG EAST), while classmate Ryan McNamara set a new career best with seven points and four assists. Senior Conor Gately also had three assists for MU, which assisted on 82 percent of its goals (9-of-11). Freshman long-stick midfielder Brendon Connolly scored for the first time in his career to pull things even, 6-6, just before halftime.
“Coach (Stephen) Brundage has done so much with so many injuries and so many new guys out there,” Amplo said. “It is a testament to what he has been working on the last couple of weeks. The guys bought into his plan and really executed today. Ryan McNamara was the best player, I thought, on the field and the best I’ve seen in a long time.”
Connor Cannizzaro scored four times for the top-ranked Pioneers (12-1, 5-0 BIG EAST), who earned their third BIG EAST regular season crown in as many years in the league.
Cannizzaro scored two goals of Denver’s six goals in the third quarter as the Pioneers took full control of the contest with the frame’s only tallies.
Despite a 12-6 deficit entering the fourth quarter, Marquette rallied to pull the game within two, 13-11, on McNamara’s third of the day with just under a minute left. Blaine Fleming scored MU’s first of the fourth quarter and back-to-back tallies from Thomson gave Marquette life facing just a three-goal deficit, 12-9, at the 6:13 mark of the fourth.
The Pioneers jumped out to a 2-0 lead to begin play before McNamara scored with 6:34 left in the first for his 100th career point. McNamara then assisted Clarke’s first goal a little over a minute later and the Golden Eagles took their first lead 3-2 on Clarke’s second of the afternoon.
Denver went on to notch the first three tallies of the second quarter before Clarke registered his third goal at the 5:19 mark of the frame. MU ended the first half with a goal from Thomson and the first tally of Connolly’s career. Connolly scored off a faceoff after a big ground ball win by Noah Joseph, who pushed the ball ahead to McNamara and the junior then found Connolly in transition.
Denver is 4-0 all-time against Marquette, including 3-0 when the squads have met as BIG EAST rivals.
With a BIG EAST record of 4-1, the Golden Eagles have earned the No. 2 seed in the BIG EAST Conference Championship and will face the third-seeded Villanova Wildcats on Thursday, May 5 at 5:30 p.m. Central time on CBS Sports Network.
“If we get an effort like we did today, I like our chances,” Amplo said. “That’s what I’m most proud of. If our kids fight like they did today, it is going to be a great game, one that is winnable for both sides. That is what you want this time of year to play in the big moments. This is our big moment.”
Keep up with the Marquette men’s lacrosse program all season long through social media by following on Twitter (@MarquetteMLax) and Instagram (@MarquetteMLax) and ‘liking’ on Facebook (/MarquetteLacrosse).
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