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MLAX loses defensive battle to No. 1 Notre Dame in overtime

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(Photo courtesy of Maggie Bean/Marquette Athletics)

(Photo courtesy of Maggie Bean/Marquette Athletics)

Photo by Maggie Bean

Photo by Maggie Bean

(Photo courtesy of Maggie Bean/Marquette Athletics)

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Marquette’s ferocious second half comeback wasn’t enough to land the Golden Eagles their first win over a No. 1 ranked opponent, as Notre Dame attackman Matt Kavanagh scored 30 seconds into overtime to give the Fighting Irish an 8-7 victory.

Kavanagh was able to beat B.J. Grill around the outside from X, getting his hands free just long enough to fire a shot into the top of the net.

“The game went the way we would have hoped, except for the score,” Marquette head coach Joe Amplo said. “We knew it had to be a tight game, that it had to be a 7-6 or 8-7 game. Look how far we’ve come. There’s no moral victories, and this hurts because we were right there at the end. It was a big one, but I’m just so proud of our kids.”

Cole Blazer and the Marquette defense shut down the dangerous Notre Dame offense through much of the second half, allowing Marquette to erase a 7-5 third quarter deficit.

“Credit to our kids for just fighting back and believing in themselves, making some plays down the stretch to get us to overtime,” Amplo said.

The teams traded offensive possessions for the final eight minutes of regulation after Ryan McNamara’s tying goal. Marquette had numerous chances to take the lead with time winding down, holding possession for three straight minutes. John Wagner appeared to beat Notre Dame goalie Shane Doss with 1:47 remaining, but the ball hit the side of the net.

Zack Melillo had one of his toughest outings of the year. He lost 13 of 18 draws, including the lone faceoff in overtime.

Kyran Clarke scored two goals, the only Golden Eagle to score more than once. McNamara, Blaine Fleming, Tanner Thomson, Henry Nelson and Griffin Connor scored the rest of Marquette’s goals.

Conor Gately left the game in the first quarter after injuring his leg. He did not return, and Amplo had no update after the game.

Blazer had a bounce back game in net, making nine saves just five days after he was pulled at half with a shin injury against St. John’s.

“How about that kid?” Amplo said. “He plays a great game against the No. 1 team in the country, a team he probably grew up watching all his lacrosse life. He stood in there against some of the best shooters in the country and made some huge saves down the stretch to keep it tied.”

Marquette returns to Valley Fields for the final home game of the season against Providence, who was receiving votes in last week’s Inside Lacrosse Media Poll.

“I expected them to be very good (coming into the season),” Amplo said. “Chris Gabrieli and their assistant, John Galloway, are two of the better coaches we see. They’ve done a great job, and those kids do a really good job. They know who they are. They stick to their plan and they assert their will onto teams.”

The Friars may be extra motivated after a surprising 8-5 loss to 2-9 Georgetown.

“It’s not a must-win for them, but it certainly is a big game,” Amplo said. “This is going to be a rivalry for us for years to come. It started last year, and it’s going to continue this year.”

The Golden Eagles are undefeated at home this season, the first time they’ve played all their home games on campus. They’ll honor their 19-man senior class, the largest in the country, before the game. It’s the only group that has been involved in every practice in the program’s history.

“It’s just been great to be on campus and allow our seniors to have that memory in their vault, to say, ‘Our last year we played some games on the field that we practiced on and started to establish a tradition down at Valley Fields,'” Amplo said.

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