Men's Lacrosse Travels to No. 3/3 Denver Saturday
April 24, 2014
MILWAUKEE -- The Marquette University men's lacrosse team faces off with No. 3/3 Denver this Saturday in the BIG EAST regular season finale at 1 p.m. Central time at Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium in Denver, Colo.
For the first time in program history, Marquette (6-8, 4-1 BIG EAST) is playing for a share of the BIG EAST regular season title. Standing in its way is No. 3/3 Denver (11-2, 5-0 BIG EAST), which is riding an eight-game winning streak.
The winner of Saturday's regular season finale will clinch the No. 1 overall seed in the BIG EAST Men's Lacrosse Championship. If MU wins, it will share the regular season crown with Denver.
Both programs joined the BIG EAST in the 2014 season.
Marquette clinched its first postseason berth in program history this past Saturday when freshman midfielder Ryan McNamara found the back of the cage just two minutes into overtime to cap an 8-1 MU second-half and overtime run to defeat Georgetown 11-10 (OT).
In the preseason, MU was picked to finish last in the BIG EAST and only received nine total votes.
In the event of a loss, the Golden Eagles would be slotted at either the No. 2 or No. 3 seed depending on the outcome of Saturday's Villanova-Providence tilt.
The Golden Eagles travel to the Mile High City to take on one of the nation's most prolific attacks. Denver holds the nation's sixth-best scoring offense with 13.08 goals per game, while the Pioneers lead the BIG EAST in turnovers per game with just 11.77. In its 11 wins, Denver has posted a scoring margin of 4.46 goals per game, which ranks fifth among all Division I programs.
The key to the Pioneers is their shot efficiency. While Denver only attempts about two more shots per game (34.50) than MU, its shot percentage is .379 which ranks second in the NCAA.
The Pioneer's attack is led by Wes Berg, a member of the Tewaaraton watch list, who averages 2.4 goals per game and Jeremy Noble who has tallied 35 points in 2014.
Marquette's defense, which has won three-consecutive BIG EAST Defensive Players of the Week after redshirt sophomore Liam Byrnes won the award this week, is up to the challenge of Denver's attack.
Byrnes picked up a team-high five groundballs and caused three turnovers Saturday and was pivotal in slowing down an athletic Georgetown attack.
Last weekend, freshman goalie Jimmy Danaher was able to hold the Hoyas to just three second-half goals which allowed MU to come back and win the game.
Redshirt senior Tyler Melnyk returned from injury vs. Georgetown with a vengeance. The attackman tallied a fourth-quarter hat trick to cap off a 7-1 second-half run that forced Saturday's game into overtime. Melnyk currently averages 3.00 goals per game which leads the BIG EAST and ranks fifth in Division I.
Following the conclusion of this Saturday's game, both Marquette and Denver will travel to Villanova for the BIG EAST tournament on May 1 and 3 held at Villanova Stadium. Seeding will become official on Sunday, April 27 and semifinal games will be played at 3:30 p.m. (CT) and 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 1.