MU Advances to first BIG EAST Final; Tops Nova 14-9
May 5, 2016
DENVER – No. 19 Marquette advanced to its first BIG EAST Men’s Lacrosse Championship title game with a 14-9 victory over No. 16 Villanova in the semifinals on Thursday evening at Peter Barton Stadium in Denver.
“It is probably the most special moment I have had as a coach,” Marquette head coach Joe Amplo said. “Our staff, this team, has worked through every challenge and now we have the opportunity to play for a championship. It just means the world to me to have men who care about our youngsters, just trying to push them and support them through every challenge. We find a bunch of kids who believe in each other and don’t let challenges stop them. There is no obstacle that this group doesn’t want to tackle.”
Junior attackman Ryan McNamara notched his sixth four-goal game of the year to lead the Golden Eagles (10-4) past Villanova for the second time this season. McNamara’s four goals give him 38 tallies on the year, a mark that now stands as the MU single-season record.
Junior Andy DeMichiei, wearing the injured Kyle Whitlow’s No. 6, scored three goals for his second hat trick of the season, while Conor Gately, Tanner Thomson and John Wagner each landed a pair of shots for goals.
“It’s funny. (DeMichiei) looked like (Whitlow) out there,” Amplo said. “I think Andy’s first goal was left handed and I walked over to Kyle and said that’s the first left-handed goal that a six has ever scored in the history of our program. Kyle is a predominantly right-handed player and just the energy that those goals brought to our team. Our team felt like it was a tribute to Kyle – and I think that was unbelievably meaningful for our group. That elevated the emotion on our bench and really put a smile on Kyle’s face and that meant the world to all of us.”
Joey Froccaro and Devin McNamara each recorded hat tricks for the Wildcats (9-5) and VU’s leading scorer Jake Froccaro scored against MU for the first time in 2016.
“What a hard fought game. I thought the game was closer than the score indicated,” Amplo said. “Those kids played their tails off, so credit to their coaching staff. About a month ago, we dominated the game against them and those kids came back and won some impressive games down the stretch. They played against us again today and really made it a battle for us.”
Gately got the Golden Eagles on the board first just under a minute into action as he rolled from behind the VU cage to his left to score. MU added another two goals from Thomson and DeMichiei before the Wildcats’ first of the day.
Wagner scored the final goal of the opening quarter and the first goal of the second to put the Golden Eagles back up three, 5-2, with 14:03 remaining in the second. The goals marked the first time the freshman has scored since MU’s 7-2 win at Richmond on Feb. 27.
McNamara tacked on the final two goals of the first half to give Marquette a 7-3 edge after 30 minutes of play.
The Wildcats scored the first two goals out of the break before a 4-0 run by the Golden Eagles built their largest edge of the game at 11-5. VU’s Jake Froccaro got called for a cross check and Henry Nelson capitalized on the extra man opportunity with 5:03 remaining in the third for the 11-5 lead.
Villanova was able to post the final two scores of the third frame to pull the game back to within four, 11-7, entering the final stanza.
Marquette previously defeated then-No. 5 Villanova, 11-3, in Milwaukee on April 2 as sophomore goalie Cole Blazer made his first career start and made 13 saves in net. With MU’s two victories over VU this season, the Golden Eagles now lead the all-time series 3-2.
The Golden Eagles will play the winner of Thursday’s late semifinal game between No. 1 Denver and Providence. The BIG EAST title game is slated for 3:30 p.m. Central time at Peter Barton Stadium on FS2.
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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