The men’s lacrosse team will play its first game of the season Saturday afternoon, as it travels to Ann Arbor, Mich., for exhibition games against the Michigan Wolverines and the Denison Big Red.
Attackman Tyler Melnyk said Marquette will come into the exhibition anxious to play against a team in a different uniform. The redshirt junior said he expects the Golden Eagles to bring a high level of effort and energy to the games.
“I definitely don’t think we’re going to get outworked in any aspect of the game,” Melnyk said. “Especially with all of the lifts we have been doing for the past two years, we will definitely be in good enough shape and be able to go out and compete and do what we need to do.”
Much like Marquette, Michigan has a lacrosse program still in its infancy. The Wolverines joined Division I last spring, playing as an affiliate member of the Eastern College Athletic Conference. Coach Joe Amplo said the Wolverines should provide a good assessment of the Golden Eagles’ preseason progress.
“I would expect that (the exhibition game against Michigan) is going to be a good measuring stick for us,” Amplo said. “It’s going to be a good measuring stick for our young guys and how well they have developed since they have been on campus. And certainly for our team, really playing in a pretty lengthy exhibition will be a good test for us.”
Denison, on the other hand, is entering its 17th season of collegiate lacrosse. An established power in the Division III ranks, Denison notched double-digit wins and reached the national tournament every year since 2006.
Last season, when Michigan invited Denison to a similar preseason exhibition match, the Wolverines came out on top, 12-8. Michigan attackman Trevor Yealy, who led the team in goals and points in 2012, led all scorers with five goals in that game. However, Yealy has since graduated, meaning the Wolverines will likely turn to team captain Thomas Paras to fill the scoring void. The senior midfielder was the team’s second leading scorer last season and had the second most total points.
The leading scorer for Denison last season, attackman Eddie Vita, returned for Saturday’s exhibition. As a sophomore, Vita had 44 goals and 15 assists in 17 games for the Big Red, but he will likely hope to improve on both of those numbers in his junior campaign.
Denison will also return its goalie from last year, Nick Petracca. This will be Petracca’s third year as the starting goalkeeper for the Big Red, as the senior won the job three games into the 2011 season.
However, Amplo said the coaching staff is not devising any special schemes or game plans to deal with opposing players, since Saturday’s match is only an exhibition. Freshman goalie J.J. Sagl said it does not matter who Marquette’s competition will be this weekend, because he and his teammates are more focused on improving themselves before their Feb. 23 season opener.
“Going into an exhibition game like this, you want to be conscious of the little wrinkles the other team throws at you,” Sagl said. “But we aren’t necessarily worrying about them … because this weekend is about playing our game to the best ability that we can possibly play.”