Senior Kyran Clarke (pictured) along with Tanner Thomson and John Wagner comprise an all-Canadian first midfield.
March 29, 2017
MILWAUKEE - In a matchup with major BIG EAST and NCAA implications, the Marquette University men's lacrosse team heads east to face Villanova on Saturday, April 1 at Villanova Stadium with both programs riding four-game winning streaks.
The Golden Eagles (5-2, 1-0 BIG EAST) enter the weekend coming off a mid-week victory over Air Force, 7-6, in which they rebounded from a two-goal fourth quarter deficit for the victory. Marquette also began BIG EAST Conference play last weekend with a tight 11-10 win at Georgetown and is allowing opponents to score just 7.29 goals per game, a mark good for fifth nationally.
Six MU players have at least six goals through the first seven games of the season and MU is led by senior attackmen Ryan McNamara and Andy DeMichiei with nine goals apiece.
The Last Meeting
May 5, 2016
Villanova (5-4, 0-0 BIG EAST) has yet to play a league game, but own wins against Bucknell, at Brown, then-No. 4 Maryland and Fairfield over the last three weeks. It enters this weekend seventh nationally by scoring at a 13.22 goals per game clip, led by Jack Curran's 26 goals and Jake Froccaro's 23. Froccarro has also taken the most face-offs for VU, while three other players, including his younger brother, Joey, have also contributed at the dot.
Marquette holds a slim 3-2 edge in the all-time series after topping a ranked Villanova squad twice in 2016 with the last meeting coming in the BIG EAST semifinals to knock VU out of postseason contention.
In last year's regular season meeting at Valley Fields on April 2, then-No. 5 Villanova scored just three goals as Cole Blazer made his first career start in net for the Golden Eagles and went on to earn NCAA national player of the week honors with 13 saves. MU followed that up with a 14-9 win in the BIG EAST tournament as both teams jockeyed for NCAA at-large consideration. Ryan McNamara posted four goals in that game, while Andy DeMichiei scored a hat trick wearing the No. 6 jersey for the first time.
Following the game against the Wildcats, the Golden Eagles will return to Milwaukee to host St. John's on Saturday, April 9 in a 1 p.m. Central time game slated to be broadcast live on Spectrum Sports.
WAGNER PROVIDES MORE CONSISTENCY
- Midfielder John Wagner experienced an up-and-down freshman season in 2016, playing in all 16 games, but scoring in only two of them. The Canadian has been able to carve out a more prominent role on the first line as a sophomore and has been a key component in MU's four-game winning streak by scoring in every game of that run. The 6-foot-2 lefty posted a career-best four points on a pair of goals and two assists in MU's narrow 7-6 win over Air Force on March 28 and has already nearly doubled his point production from a year ago (6 points (2016) to 11 points (2017)).
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).
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. On March 27, the junior sat sixth in NCAA Division I with 12.5 saves per game and held 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 15-4 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 15-4 in one-goal games following consecutive 2017 wins over Georgetown and Air Force. 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 15-4 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:
- 89 career goals (first)
- 134 career points (second)
- 45 career assists (second)
- 356 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*