Men’s lacrosse seek second win in Jacksonville

Lacrosse faces familiar foes in at Hofstra.

The men’s lacrosse team faces a three-game road trip over spring break, beginning with the Jacksonville Dolphins Saturday at noon in Jacksonville, Fla.

Coach Joe Amplo said his players face a unique obstacle in their game against Jacksonville since the Golden Eagles are coming off their first victory in program history.

“We’re in it now, and that’s what these guys came here for – to be in the heart of the season and learn how to prepare for each game,” Amplo said. “I think the most challenging thing for us this week is, how do we handle success? Do we continue to work as well as we’ve worked up until this point, and how do we respond to the success we had last week in our performance this coming Saturday?”

Jacksonville will enter the game 1-2 with losses to Duke and Ohio State, which were both ranked when they played the Dolphins. Last Saturday, Jacksonville picked up its first win of the season, barely beating a 1-4 High Point team by one goal.

Like Marquette, the Dolphins have a new program, as this is only their fourth season playing in Division I. Despite that youth, Amplo said Jacksonville has talented players who can challenge Marquette on offense and defense.

“I have seen them live and I have watched them on film, and I think they are a very good team,” Amplo said. “I think they have a lot of offensive weapons, and I think their goalie is as good as any goalie that we’re going to see this year.”

Pete DeLuca leads the Jacksonville defense from between the pipes. The junior goalie has started 30 of his team’s 31 games since the beginning of his freshman year and registered a .570 save percentage in 2012 with nearly 13 saves per game. Although he did not play in the team’s 2013 season opener against Duke, DeLuca held Ohio State and High Point to nine and eight goals, respectively, and tallied a combined 22 saves for a .564 save percentage.

Freshman attackman Henry Nelson said he already knew of DeLuca’s talent because of the goalie’s preseason accolades.

“I know they’ve got a great goaltender; he’s obviously a leader on that team from a defensive standpoint,” Nelson said. “I know he was a preseason first team (All-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) pick, so we’ll see how that goes.”

In addition to the opponents, Amplo said the weather may be an obstacle for Marquette to overcome.

“Going down to play in Florida is going to be a little bit of a challenge for us,” Amplo said. “It is going to be warm, and those kids are built for that weather and we’re not.”

Freshman midfielder Phil McFarland, however, said he does not expect the heat to hurt the Golden Eagles. McFarland cited the team’s good performance in adverse conditions last weekend as his main reason not to worry.

“We went to play Air Force at 6,000 feet, and we thought that was going to be the biggest difficulty, but honestly we really didn’t notice it,” McFarland said. “I think that’s going to be the same thing with this heat. I think a lot of guys are going to prefer it, actually, because it is easier to play in heat than four feet of snow.”

Following their game against Jacksonville, the Golden Eagles will travel to Macon, Ga., to take on Mercer next Tuesday.