Junior Griffin Connor has been a key cog in MU's short-stick D-middie rotation this season.
April 7, 2016
The Last Meeting
April 4, 2015
MLAX Holds off St. John's, 14-12
The No. 13/12 Marquette University men's lacrosse team moved to 2-1 in BIG EAST Conference play after holding off St. John's, 14-12, on Saturday afternoon at Hart Park.
MILWAUKEE – Coming off the first victory over a top-10 foe in program history, the Marquette University men’s lacrosse team looks to continue its five-game winning streak at St. John’s on Saturday at DaSilva Memorial Field in Queens, New York.
The game will be available live at 11 a.m. Central time on the WatchESPN app and through ESPN3.com. Live statistics will be available on GameTracker through GoMarquette.com.
The Golden Eagles (7-1, 2-0 BIG EAST) have won their first two league games of the season for the first time in their three-year affiliation with the conference and picked up their second victories all-time over Georgetown and Villanova in the last two weeks. Sophomore goalie Cole Blazer made his first career start Saturday against the Wildcats and was named the BIG EAST Conference Defensive Player of the Week after limiting VU to just three goals while making 13 saves.
Junior attackman Ryan McNamara posted his fifth game of the year with at least four goals against the fifth-ranked Wildcats and sophomore Zachary Melillo went 12-of-17 at the faceoff X. Both players joined Blazer in earning BIG EAST recognition Monday as the pair received honor roll mention.
The Red Storm (1-9) have dropped five-straight games since a 10-9 victory over Siena on March 5 and are 1-2 at home in 2016. In its BIG EAST opener last weekend, St. John’s dropped a 15-10 decision at Providence with freshman Colin Duffy posting a team-high four goals and five points in his first career start. Jason DeBenedictis leads the Red Storm with 26 points on 21 goals and five assists.
Marquette is 2-1 all-time against the Red Storm with the lone loss coming in its first season of competition, a 15-10 loss in Queens on April 27, 2013. The Golden Eagles returned the favor the following year with an 11-10 overtime win in 2014 and topped SJU, 14-12, last season in Wisconsin.
McNamara scored a hat trick and added an assist in 2015 against St. John’s, while classmate Kyran Clarke tied an MU program record with five assists.
Following the game in New York, the Golden Eagles return briefly to Wisconsin before making the trek around the southern end of Lake Michigan to take on No. 1 Notre Dame on Wednesday, April 13 at 3 p.m. CT. The game can also be seen through WatchESPN and ESPN3.com.
BLAZER STANDS TALL IN FIRST CAREER START
- Sophomore goalie Cole Blazer made quite the impression in his season debut and first career start as the Golden Eagles shut down a high-scoring Villanova offense that entered the game second in the nation in scoring. The Libertyville, Illinois native made 13 sometimes spectacular saves against the Wildcats and held the VU offense to a season-low three goals, while recording a .813 save percentage. Blazer and the MU defense also limited VU’s Jake Froccaro, who entered the game as the nation’s leading scorer, to a lone assist. For his sterling performance, he was named the BIG EAST Conference’s Defensive Player of the Week on April 4, the USILA’s National Defensive Player of the Week on April 5 and earned the same honor from the NCAA on April 6.
- Blazer is the closest thing to a local player on the Marquette roster, hailing from Libertyville, Illinois, which sits 55 miles to the south of Milwaukee down I-94 just across the Wisconsin-Illinois border. No player for the Golden Eagles in program history has ever grown up closer to the Milwaukee campus.
GRILL IS A 2016 SENIOR CLASS AWARD FINALIST
- Graduate student B.J. Grill became the first MU men’s lacrosse player to be named a Senior CLASS Award finalist when it was announced that he was one of 10 student-athletes on the ballot for the prestigious award on March 30. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition. Grill is a two-time All-BIG EAST First Team selection on defense and a 2016 Inside Lacrosse Preseason Faceoff Yearbook Third Team All-American. The two-time team captain and Major League Lacrosse draft pick graduated in May of 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and is currently pursuing an MBA in Marquette’s Graduate School of Management.
- Fan voting will account for one-third of the balloting and continue from now until May 9 at http://go.mu.edu/VoteGrill2016.
FACEOFF UNIT MUCH IMPROVED IN 2016
- After winning just 43 percent of their faceoffs during the first three seasons of NCAA Division I competition, the Golden Eagles sit at 66.9 percent through the first seven games of 2016 and rank third nationally. That improvement was highlighted in the March 6 victory over Detroit, in which MU won 95 percent (19-of-20) of the game’s faceoffs, including the first 19 of the game. Sophomore transfer Zachary Melillo was named to the BIG EAST Conference Weekly Honor Roll on March 7 after going 18-for-19 at the X against the Titans and Marquette has won 68 percent (fourth nationally) of the draws he has taken in 2016. The Warren, New Jersey native leads the Golden Eagles with 40 ground balls this season and has had significant help on the wings from short sticks Jacob Richard (35 ground balls), Griffin Connor and Noah Joseph, as well as long stick midfielders Tyler Gilligan and Brendon Connolly.
DOMINANT DEFENSIVE EFFORTS FUEL VICTORIES OVER RICHMOND AND VILLANOVA
- The Golden Eagles boast one of the nation’s best defensive units, which has come up big in victories at Richmond (two goals) on Feb. 27 and against then-No. 5/6 Villanova (three goals) on April 2. Through eight games, Marquette has held half of its opponents to five-or-fewer goals and leads the nation in scoring defense (6.25 goals per game). Richmond’s two goals are the fewest MU has ever allowed in program history and the three goals by the Wildcats are a season low for them.
- Those two victories also highlighted the ability of the MU defense to take the opposing team’s top scorer out of the equation. On Feb. 27 the Golden Eagles were able to shut down Richmond’s leading-scorer Mitch Goldberg and did not concede a point to the junior for the first time in 27 games. Marquette also held Villanova junior Jake Froccaro, who entered April 2’s game leading the nation with 3.88 goals per game, without a goal for the first time in 2016.
McNAMARA MAKING HIS MARK IN 2016
- Junior Ryan McNamara has burst onto the scene for the Golden Eagles in 2016 and is set to break MU’s single season goal scoring mark (36 goals) by the end of the regular season if he keeps up his current pace. The Eagan, Minnesota native was honored as the BIG EAST Conference Offensive Player of the Week for the first time in his career on Monday, March 28 after a career-best five goals in MU’s league opener against Georgetown.
- He is second in the BIG EAST and fourth in NCAA Division I with 3.25 goals per game (26 total goals) in the first eight contests of 2016, and has earned three BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll mentions in addition to the offensive player of the week honor. He has already surpassed his previous season-high goal total of 23 goals, which he recorded in 16 games last season.
- He has the nation’s eighth-longest goal scoring streak at 12 games and he has scored a total of 33 times during those games.
- Dating back to April of last season, McNamara has scored 36 goals over his last 14 contests (2.57 goals/game) and has accrued 47 points over that same stretch (3.36 points/game). Those games included matchups with then-No. 1 Notre Dame, No. 5 Denver (1g, 3a), No. 6 Duke (2g, 1a), No. 12 Georgetown (1g, 1a), and this season against then-No. 5 Villanova (4g).
- McNamara’s 66 career goals are four behind Kyle Whitlow for second all-time in Marquette history and eight behind Conor Gately’s MU current record of 74. His 26 tallies in 2016 also sit just 10 goals behind Tyler Melnyk’s program record of 36 from 2014.
MARQUETTE 11-2 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 11-2 in one-goal games. Marquette picked up its first such victory of 2016 in its BIG EAST opener against Georgetown, 9-8, on March 26 after winning five one-goal games last season. 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 to the Hoyas on March 21, 2015. In addition to being 11-2 all-time in games decided by one goal, MU is also 4-0 all-time in overtime games as a program.
BYRNES CONTINUES TO PRODUCE IN A NUMBER OF WAYS
- Liam Byrnes, the BIG EAST Preseason Co-Defensive Player of the Year, was the BIG EAST’s unanimous selection at long stick midfielder last season and has returned to his role as a close defenseman in 2016. Byrnes has recorded a ground ball (183 total) in all but four of the 53 career games he has played for Marquette and had a team-high 52 ground balls and 26 caused turnovers in 2015. He is MU’s all-time leader in ground balls and caused turnovers and has seen action in every game Marquette has ever played. The graduate student scored a career-best four goals in 2015 and has 14 career points (6g, 8a). He has tied or bettered MU single-game records in both caused turnovers (5 vs. Detroit) and ground balls (9 vs. Robert Morris) this season and is second in the country with 2.38 caused turnovers per game.
- Byrnes was named an Inside Lacrosse Face-off Yearbook Third Team Preseason All-American prior to the start of 2016 and was honored by the publication on Thursday, March 31 as a second team selection at the season’s halfway point.
GATELY AGAIN ON TEWAARATON AWARD WATCH LIST
- Senior attackman Conor Gately was named to the Tewaaraton Award Watch List for the second time in his career in 2016. The watch list of 50 men’s student-athletes will be cut down to 25 on April 28 and five finalists for the award will be announced on May 12. The Tewaaraton Award, presented by Under Armour, is recognized as the preeminent lacrosse award. The award selection committees are made up of premier collegiate coaches and are appointed by The Tewaaraton Foundation.
- Gately, a Marquette legacy, holds MU career records with 129 points on 74 goals and 55 assists. His second goal of the day at Quinnipiac on March 19, 2016 moved him past teammate Kyle Whitlow and into first in MU history with 71 career goals.
WHITLOW’S PRODUCTION WILL BE MISSED
- Midfielder Kyle Whitlow suffered a season-ending knee injury on Tuesday, March 8 at practice and will miss the remainder of his redshirt senior campaign. The two-time All-BIG EAST selection started all 49 games of his Marquette career and the Golden Eagles had never taken the field without him in the lineup until March 12 against Robert Morris. Whitlow’s 70 career and 94 points are both second to Conor Gately in MU history. The Orillia, Ontario native scored his 60th career goal on April 11, 2015 at Providence to take sole possession of first place in Marquette history, surpassing Tyler Melnyk’s previous record of 59 tallies.
LINEUP CHANGES A RESULT OF WHITLOW’S INJURY
- With Whitlow out of the lineup for the first time in program history against Robert Morris on March 12, head coach Joe Amplo used the opportunity to shake up his starters. Amplo slid leading scorer Ryan McNamara from the midfield into the attack unit with Conor Gately and Joseph Dunn. Blaine Fleming and Tanner Thomson each made their first starts of the year alongside Andy DeMichiei in the midfield, in place of McNamara and Whitlow. Fleming and Thomson each scored their first goals of the season against the Colonials, including the first two of his career for Thomson. Senior Brett Hornung also saw time on MU’s specialty unit, scoring his first career goal in the second quarter on an EMO.
MARQUETTE’S ROSTER FEATURES NATION’S LARGEST SENIOR CLASS
- This year’s roster features a 19-player senior class that is the largest in NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse. The group includes five players who arrived on campus during the fall of 2011 and did not play in any games during their first year as the Golden Eagles only practiced. Liam Byrnes and B.J. Grill have already received their bachelor’s degrees in that group, while Kyle Whitlow, Tyler Gilligan and Dan Mojica will graduate in May with MU’s other four-year players. Marquette returns a total of eight starters and 35 letter winners from last year’s 10-win squad.
- All 19 seniors and head manager Tommy Wright will be honored during Marquette’s April 16 regular season home finale at Valley Fields against Providence.