MLAX upsets No. 6 Villanova in 11-3 rout

McNamara scores four goals for fifth time this season


(Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics)

The Golden Eagles earned their first-ever win over a top-10 opponent in dominant fashion, defeating Villanova 11-3 for Marquette’s fifth straight victory.

“We were sharp, we were on and things were clicking the right way,” Marquette head coach Joe Amplo said.

Backstopping Marquette was sophomore goalie Cole Blazer, who made 13 saves his first career start over three-year starter Jimmy Danaher. Blazer made 11 of the stops in a busy first half. He stonewalled the Wildcats, even when facing multiple point-blank shots.

“I said to myself with five minutes to go in the first half, ‘Don’t talk to him’ because I felt he was a perfect game pitcher,” Amplo said. “He was locked in.”

Amplo announced the change from Danaher, who started every game thus far, to Blazer earlier this week. Despite the demotion, Danaher played a big part in Blazer’s preparation this week. Danaher and third-string Matt Barone created a chart of every shot Villanova took all season in an Excel Spreadsheet.

“Barone and I, we’re both engineers and Jimmy is a real technical goalie and a sort of artistic goalie,” Blazer said. “We compiled a shot chart for them. We made sure we’d done a scouting report, especially on the big shooters.”

Amplo said postgame Blazer will be Marquette’s starting goalie moving forward.

Marquette scored the first seven goals of the game, shutting out the No. 2 offensive unit in the country for nearly an entire quarter. Villanova’s Jake Fraccaro, who came into the game as the nation’s leader in goals per game, was held scoreless all game. B.J. Grill made him nearly invisible. Everyone credited the scout team for helping make that possible.

“B.J. Grill and the defense did a great job on him,” Amplo said. “Grant Preisler was the hardest cover we had all week. He pretended he was Jake Fraccaro for five days and prepared our guys.”

Marquette dictated the pace of play and kept Villanova from getting too many opportunities the most effective way possible — not allowing the Wildcats to get the ball. The battle at the face-off X between two top-10 players, Marquette’s Zack Melillo and Villanova’s Luke Palmadesso, turned out to be a one-sided affair. Melillo won 12 of his 17 draws, getting plenty of help from his wings, Byrnes, Tyler Gilligan and Jake Richard.

“Those guys played like seniors,” Amplo said. “They made some really slick lacrosse plays to gain possession… That’s how you stop that team, because they are dangerous. We controlled the middle of the field.”

Ryan McNamara scored four goals for the Golden Eagles, including a hat trick in the first half. Tanner Thomson scored two goals, playing a bigger role than he did in an injury-limited outing against Georgetown.

Marquette sits alone atop the BIG EAST standings with a 2-0 conference record and 7-1 overall. The Golden Eagles begin a two-game road trip Saturday against St. John’s.

The Golden Eagles have moved down the Cascade/Maverik rankings the past two weeks despite wins. This week they should be back in the Top 20.

“We keep an eye on the rankings, but it’s more than that,” Byrnes said. “We know we’re a good team. We just have to play our game every single week. I’m sure now we’re going to bump up, probably top 15. We still have to stay composed, not let that get to our head.”