McNamara offensive focal point in first two games

McNamara+scored+four+goals+in+the+season+opener+against+Bellarmine+%28Photo+courtesy+of+Doug+Peters%2FMarquette+Athletics%29

Photo by Doug Peters

McNamara scored four goals in the season opener against Bellarmine (Photo courtesy of Doug Peters/Marquette Athletics)

Junior midfielder Ryan McNamara’s shots have found the back of the net at a high rate through the first two games of the season. His four goals in the season opener, which tied a career high, and two against Richmond this weekend give him the men’s lacrosse team lead.

“He’s one of the straws that stirs our drink offensively,” head coach Joe Amplo said. “I’m really proud of the way he’s playing. I think he’s playing really mature.”

It’s a change of pace for the Golden Eagles, whose lefty attackman has led the team in scoring all three seasons (Tyler Melnyk in 2013 and 2014, Jordan Greenfield in 2015). The team has focused on a scorer by committee mantra this season, and McNamara said he’s just had the hot hand.

“I’ve just been a beneficiary to a good offense,” McNamara said. “Everyone else is moving the ball well and drawing their guys. I just happen to be the one that’s open … I’m just the one that’s finishing. It will be someone else the next game, or the game after that.”

Amplo and McNamara agree it’s experience that has helped him the most this season. He’s started in every game since coming to Marquette.

“I’m much more calm with the ball,” McNamara said. “As a freshman you’re a little nervous. Sophomore year I started getting the (long-pole assignment), which is nerve-wracking. When a big, 6-foot-4 guy is running at you with a six-foot pole, you’re going to be a little frightened.”

That experience has led to smarter shots. McNamara has scored on a team-leading 46 percent of his shots, almost a 20 percent increase from his numbers last season. He said he has more confidence in his shot now than he did in previous years, because he knows even if the goalie stops it, shooting was the right decision.

“If the goalie makes a save, I’m not going to get down on myself,” McNamara said. “I’m just looking for the next place. I’m not really nervous to make mistakes.”

This weekend the Golden Eagles travel to the Midwest Lacrosse Classic to play Ohio State and Detroit, against whom McNamara scored three goals combined last season. His smart shooting needs to translate to the rest of the team if they are to continue their win streak. The team as a whole is shooting only 23 percent, largely due to the Bellarmine game. The Golden Eagles got 47 shots off but only scored nine goals.

“The past couple of games, we’ve gotten a lot of shots,” McNamara said. “We need to start finishing our shots … Right now people are not wanting the goalie to make a save. We need to put it on net and make the goalie make a save. A lot of people are putting in time out of practice and out of games to work on their shot. Hopefully that will improve.”