Marquette lacrosse loses to reigning champion Duke during three-game road trip

Trib File Photo
Trib File Photo

The Marquette men’s lacrosse team had a busy spring break, playing three games in eight days against Jacksonville, Duke and Detroit. Though it struggled at the start of the break, it finished well and is starting to find an identity.

Warmer climates allowed the team to play and practice outside, a luxury the team does not enjoy in the cold temperatures of Milwaukee. Playing on a full field gave the team a chance to run plays and replicate in-game situations, especially in the transition game.

“It was a trip where we saw a tremendous amount of improvement and I think its clear we know exactly who we are and  what we need to be successful,” coach Joe Amplo said. “Now it’s a matter of executing against a few good teams coming up.”

Heading into the first game of the trip against Jacksonville, the squad did not have any outdoor practice, and suffered a close 9-8 loss.

A late rally led by freshman midfielder Ryan McNamara, who scored two goals in the closing minutes of the game, brought Marquette within one. Redshirt senior faceoff specialist Cullen Cassidy, who won the faceoff battle for the first time this season 14 to 6, won the following face-off, and Coach Joe Amplo quickly called a timeout.

Out of the timeout, the ball found the stick of redshirt senior attackman Bryan Badolato, but his shot was saved with 30 seconds remaining. The Golden Eagles were unable to regain possession and fell to the Dolphins.

The game saw a big change in net, as freshman goalie Jimmy Danaher made his collegiate debut, replacing senior goalie JJ Sagl. Danaher made seven saves on 16 shots on goal.

Even with positives on faceoffs and in goal, the offense was sloppy. Unforced errors plagued the attacking threat, preventing the team from doing much of anything in the offensive third. The mistakes ended up costing the Golden Eagles the game.

“Most of us are pretty disappointed about the Jacksonville game,” McNamara said. “We kept turning the ball over and in the end we just didn’t finish.”

A few days rest and practice separated the team from reigning national champion Duke, who defeated Marquette 19-3 last year in the season finale.

Despite another double-digit scoreline, this year’s game was much closer. In the first quarter, the team surrendered 10 goals in the first 15 minutes. The team rebounded after the opening frame and held their own against one of the nation’s top teams, but still fell to the Blue Devils 20-9.

“I don’t think the score really reflected how we played as a team,” redshirt senior defenseman Jerry Nobile said. “Obviously we lost 20-9, but the offense played great and they really found out who they were and as the game went on the defense found out who they were too.”

The last stop on the road trip was Detroit, whom Marquette defeated last year at home for the first home win in program history. This season was similar to last year’s contest and again Marquette came out on top for its second win of the season.

Redshirt senior attackman Tyler Melnyk led the charge with five goals and an assist to conclude his monster spring break in which he tallied 14 points (11G, 3A). Badolato added four goals himself, and McNamara had a career high five-points (2G, 3A).

At the faceoff X, sophomore Paul Riportella filled in for an injured Cassidy. He went 20-for-24, earning a program record for faceoff wins in a game and a spot on the Big East Honor Roll.

“With Detroit it all came together,” Nobile said. “We got the win, which is huge for us, and the team looked like it was clicking all around, and it was good to see.”

With the busy break over, the team has a week off before the start of Big East play Saturday against Villanova at Uihlein Park in Milwaukee at 1 p.m. The contest marks the first conference match in program history.