Club Lacrosse defeats Wisconsin for GLLL Championship

Jack Goods

Image courtesy of Joey Betori
Image courtesy of Joey Betori

For the Marquette club lacrosse team, the Great Lakes Lacrosse League Tournament this weekend set the team up for a perfect opportunity at redemption. The Golden Eagles defeated the only three teams that they lost to in the regular season, Notre Dame, Northwestern and the host Wisconsin-Madison Red en route to its first GLLL title.

After two 9-6 upset victories in the first two rounds Marquette played a closer game against the Badgers, eking out a 7-6 victory. Marquette went up by three goals in the fourth quarter on Wisconsin Red, the better of the school’s two squads who compete in the GLLL. The Golden Eagles looked to be closing in on the title when Wisconsin was handed a three-minute non-releasable penalty, but the Badgers scored a shorthanded goal to narrow the lead to two. They managed one more goal late. Wisconsin had one last opportunity to tie the game in the last 30 seconds, but a Marquette defender intercepted a pass that would have led to a wide-open opportunity.

Freshman midfielder Niko Kakos led the team with three goals and two assists in the title game. Sophomore midfielder Collin Dowdle scored two goals. Junior attackman Cam O’Connor and junior midfielder Daniel Javor each scored one. Javor was named the MVP of the tournament. He scored four goals over the weekend and was dominant at the faceoff X.

“It’s the perfect ending,” Javor said. “To actually win a championship, mostly for the seniors who are leaving next year, it’s nice to do.”

The title is a cherry on top of a transitional era for club lacrosse. The team played in the MCLA, the top level of club lacrosse, until 2012. The team was forced to move to the GLLL due to a MCLA rule that prohibits schools who have a Division I program to field a team.

“For the seniors, it’s been great,” senior long-stick midfielder Joey Betori said. “We’ve gone through a lot with this team, with having to change leagues half way through because of the DI team coming in. (We) also had to find our identity, as a team not in the MCLA but the GLLL. It was the best way we could have gone out.”

The Golden Eagles had history with their in-state rivals. Wisconsin eliminated Marquette from the tournament the last three years, including an 8-7 overtime game last season. This year’s team was even stronger than normal, as Wisconsin’s MCLA team combined into this one. The Badgers were undefeated this season prior to the championship and beat Marquette 11-9 in the regular season meeting this season.

It was a busy weekend for the Golden Eagles, as all three games were played within a two-day span. The team only had an hour break between the end of the Notre Dame and Northwestern games. Marquette came out a bit flat against Northwestern, falling behind 6-2. Marquette scored seven unanswered goals and junior goalie Calder Sutton stopped every shot in the second half.

For Marquette, it was a storybook ending to what the team has called its revenge tour.

“It wasn’t easy, but I don’t think we would have wanted it any other way,” Betori said. “We showed them what we are made of.”