Men’s lacrosse wins first Big East game

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Men’s lacrosse wins first Big East game

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mlaxmlaxIn the final minute of Marquette men’s lacrosse’s game against Rutgers, sophomore attackman Conor Gately scored to lift the teamlaxm to its first Big East win in program history.

Close games have been a struggle for the squad this season, and despite numerous runs and a four-goal lead, the team was never able to run away with the game. Unlike previous games where the team had to come from behind, Marquette stayed ahead most of the game and held on 14-13.

“This is how we’d like to be playing, you know, with a lead the whole time,” redshirt senior attackman Tyler Melnyk said. “We fell behind and we like to battle back but this time we were on top.”

The game started with a 3-0 Marquette lead when Melnyk notched two of his five goals on the day. Rutgers crawled back into the game but after back-and-forth scoring, the Golden Eagles gained momentum.

Entering the third quarter with a 9-6 lead, Marquette extended the lead to four through Melnyk. However, the lead evaporated as the Scarlet Knights tallied five unanswered points to take their first lead of the game with 6:17 remaining.

The final minutes saw both teams vying for the game winner, and with a minute and a half to go Marquette appeared to have the game locked up with a two goal lead. However, Rutgers scored twice, the tying goal resulting from a turnover by freshman goalkeeper Jimmy Danaher. Coach Joe Amplo was forced to take a timeout.

In the timeout, the coaches formulated a last ditch effort involving Gately finding space and either looking for Melnyk near the crease or calling his own number. When Gately made it to the top, the double team never came and he fired a shot into the back of the net to give Marquette its third win of the season.

“The last play was intense,” Danaher said. “The plan was to get Gately the ball and he came down the alley and shot low past the keeper and everyone was fired up on our end.”

Many players had career performances on the day. Danaher, despite his late mistake, made a career-best 12 saves with 25 shots on goal. Sophomore faceoff specialist Paul Riportella faced arguably the best faceoff man in the country in Rutgers’ Joseph Nardella and went 13 for 30 at the x, winning important draws toward the end of the game to secure the win.

“I’m proud of (Danaher) for winning, I’m proud of him for making those saves and I’m proud of him hopefully for learning from his mistakes,” Amplo said. “(Riportella) was going against one of the best faceoff guys I’ve seen in years so it was a great performance by him.”

The most impressive player was Melnyk whose offensive tear continues. He tallied a career and program best eight points (five goals, three assists) which moved him up the NCAA points per game list from 15th to 9th at 4.44 points per game. He was also named to the Big East Weekly Honor Roll.

“(Tyler) is such a hard matchup for any team we face,” Amplo said. “He played smart, he played urgent and he canned his shots. I mean he’s a great player and he deserves all the credit and all the accolades and he performed on a big stage for us.”

The team plays its second game in four days when it returns home to face Bellarmine at Hart Park in Wauwatosa Tuesday at 5 p.m. The teams played each other last year and Marquette was victorious in its first overtime game ever.

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