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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Men’s lacrosse set for Big East debut

Photo by Maggie Bean/Marquette Images
Photo by Maggie Bean/Marquette Images

The men’s lacrosse team will welcome Villanova to Uihlein Park Saturday for its first home Big East game in program history.

Last year, the team played as an independent before joining the Big East this summer alongside lacrosse-only member Denver. Because the two teams joined the conference, they both have the chance to earn an automatic qualifier for the NCAA Tournament if either one wins the Big East Tournament.

“The most important thing for us that coach (Joe Amplo) has said throughout the year is Big East play is huge for us,” redshirt senior defenseman Jerry Nobile said. “It’s a chance to get in the NCAA Tournament. If we can chalk some people to get in the tournament who knows what could happen.”

The first opponent in league play is Villanova. The Wildcats (1-5) were a preseason favorite but have since fallen out of the Warrior Media Poll Top 20 and enter Saturday on a four game losing streak.

Aside from Villanova’s 14-6 loss to Princeton Tuesday, all of its results were one or two goal differences, but the Wildcats have not come out on the right side of most of the decisions this season.

Villanova’s offense, which ranks 43rd in the nation for scoring is the source of the problem. A lack of offensive production comes from a lack of weapons. The scoring is spread out, and though it is nice to have many contributors, not having a lone threat does no draw many slides, thus not allowing players to get open as easily.

Faceoffs are also an issue, not only for the Wildcats, but for Marquette as well. With Marquette’s redshirt senior faceoff specialist Cullen Cassidy out with an injury, sophomore Paul Riportella has taken on a hefty workload but proved a viable replacement. Riportella earned a program record 20 faceoff wins during last weekend’s win against Detroit.

Both teams are below 50 percent at the faceoff X this season, so gaining possession between the lines is crucial. With the big performances by Marquette’s defense and faceoff specialists in the last game, both look to keep building on the momentum.

“We found out who we are as a team during the spring break trip, so it’s good knowing that heading into this weekend,” Nobile said.

What keeps Villanova alive in its games is the defense. The offense may not score a lot, but the defense can play with the best. Turnovers plagued the Marquette offense this season, most of them unforced. The team will have to tighten up significantly before Saturday, as Villanova is ranked fifth in caused turnovers per game this season.

Wildcat defenseman John LoCascio is one of the best long poles in the country. He is fifth in the nation in caused turnovers with 2.60 per game with his two supporting defensemen also in the top 12. LoCascio will most likely draw Marquette’s leading scorer this weekend, redshirt senior attackman Tyler Melnyk, who has 14 points in the last three games.

“I’m expecting it to be very intense,” freshman midfielder Ryan McNamara said. “The Big East is what it’s all about. These are must win games and its going to be a good game this weekend.“

Faceoff is set for this weekend at 1 p.m. as Marquette begins its quest for the Big East Tournament.

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