The Golden Eagles are coming off an 11-10 win at Georgetown (photo: Chuck Connolly).
March 27, 2017
MILWAUKEE - For the first time since capturing its first win in program history in 2013, the Marquette University men's lacrosse team will face Air Force in a noon Central time matchup at Valley Fields on Tuesday, March 28.
The Golden Eagles (4-2, 1-0 BIG EAST) won their BIG EAST Conference opener on Saturday over Georgetown, 11-10, as senior attackman Joe Dunn scored a career-best four goals and junior goalie Cole Blazer made 14 saves. MU took a 5-0 edge against the Hoyas and never trailed, though Georgetown pulled the game within a single goal on four occasions during the fourth quarter.
The Falcons (6-3, 2-0 Southern) have won five of their last six contests, including wins over Mercer and Jacksonville to begin Southern Conference action. It took overtime to down Jacksonville, 10-9, at home on Saturday, but AFA does own an 11-10 win over then-No. 7 Duke in its season opener on Feb. 5 in North Carolina.
Air Force is paced by a pair of 20-goal scorers so far this season as Chris Walsch and Nick Hruby have potted 23 and 21, respectively, through the season's first nine games.
The lone meeting between Marquette and the Air Force Academy came on March 2, 2013 in MU's second game of its inaugural season. The Golden Eagles jumped out to a 2-0 lead in Colorado and never trailed in the 8-6 victory. MU was only able to claim 3-of-16 face-offs, but forced AFA into 19 turnovers, while goalie JJ Sagl made 14 saves as MU was outshot 37-24.
Tuesday's game also comes on the 40th anniversary of Marquette's only NCAA Championship, which came in men's basketball in 1977.
The Golden Eagles resume BIG EAST play at Villanova on Saturday, April 1 at noon Central time.
The Last Meeting
March 2, 2013
U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo.
BIG EAST PLAY BEGINS ANEW
- The Golden Eagles are embarking on their fourth BIG EAST Conference campaign as the reigning league tournament champions after claiming their first title in the 2016 conference championship game against then-No. 1 Denver. Marquette went 4-1 in league play in 2016 and is 12-5 overall, having never fallen below .500 in a season since officially joining for men's lacrosse in 2014. In every one of those years, MU has reached the BIG EAST semifinals and its regular season losses have come to Denver (three times), Villanova (once) and Georgetown (once).
Joe Dunn HAS CAREER GAME IN 2017 BIG EAST OPENER
- Senior attackman Joe Dunn led MU to an 11-10 win in its BIG EAST Conference opener at Georgetown by registering a career-best four goals, including Marquette's final two of the game. He also secured a ground ball on the game's final face-off with around 90 seconds remaining to gain MU possession in its attempt to run out the clock. Dunn entered the game with three goals on the season and with his final tally on Saturday, tied a career-best with his seventh marker of 2017. He was named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll on Monday for the first time in his career.
BLAZER SECURES THE CREASE
- Goalie Cole Blazer has continued his solid play in net into his first full campaign as MU's starter in 2017. As of March 27, the junior sits sixth in NCAA Division I with 12.5 saves per game and holds a save percentage of .663 (second nationally) with a goals against average of 7.40 (seventh nationally). He has earned three BIG EAST Conference weekly accolades over MU's first five weeks of competition in 2017 and was the league's defensive player of the week on March 6 after notching a new program record with 18 saves against Ohio State on March 3.
MARQUETTE 14-4 IN ONE-GOAL GAMES
- The ability to perform in tense late game circumstances has been a hallmark of the Marquette program under head coach Joe Amplo, evidenced by an all-time record of 14-4 in one-goal games following the 2017 BIG EAST-opening win at Georgetown. The Golden Eagles captured four one-goal victories in the first five games of 2015 and won eight straight one-goal contests until a loss at Georgetown on March 21, 2015. In addition to being 14-4 all-time in games decided by one goal, MU is 4-1 all-time in overtime games as a program. The Golden Eagles' last one-goal win in 2016 came over No. 1 Denver, 10-9, to claim their first BIG EAST tournament championship. They also lost by the same score to North Carolina in the 2016 NCAA First Round.
MCNAMARA'S RECORD-SETTING OFFENSIVE PRODUCTION FUELS MU
- MU's lone All-BIG EAST Preseason Team honoree Ryan McNamara propelled the Golden Eagles into the 2016 postseason by breaking the Marquette single-season and career goal scoring records while earning USILA All-America recognition. McNamara became the second MU player to reach 100 career points in last year's regular season finale and passed Conor Gately's career goal mark in the process. He also broke Tyler Melnyk's single season goal and point standards with 40 and 57, respectively. A few of his rankings in MU history:
- 86 career goals (first)
- 130 career points (second)
- 44 career assists (second)
- 347 shots (first)
- The Eagan, Minnesota native became the second player in MU history to be named to the watch list for the Tewaaraton Award, the top individual honor in collegiate lacrosse. McNamara joins former teammate Conor Gately as Tewaaraton Award Watch List honorees.
DEFENSE ADJUSTS TO NEW LEADERSHIP
- One of the main tasks for head coach Joe Amplo with the 2017 squad is maintaining a defense that has to replace three USILA All-Americans (Liam Byrnes, B.J. Grill and Jacob Richard) from Marquette's top defensive unit of a year ago. The Golden Eagles boasted one of the NCAA's stoutest defenses in 2016, surrendering just 8.13 goals per contest (eighth in NCAA Division I), but return just one starter at defenseman in senior Nick Eufrasio along with goalie Cole Blazer.
2016 Top Defensive Unit (^ - USILA All-American):
LSM - Tyler Gilligan
SSDM - Jacob Richard^
D - Liam Byrnes^, B.J. Grill^, Nicholas Eufrasio
G - Cole Blazer
2017 Top Defensive Unit (* - returning starter):
LSM - Noah Richard
SSDM - Griffin Connor
D - Jackson Ehlert, Nick Grill, Nicholas Eufrasio*
G - Cole Blazer*