Men’s lacrosse defeats Villanova to advance to BIG EAST Championship

Golden Eagles likely lock up at-large bid for NCAA Tournament

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Men’s lacrosse defeats Villanova to advance to BIG EAST Championship

(Photo by Ben Erickson/bejamin.a.erickson@mu.edu)

(Photo by Ben Erickson/bejamin.a.erickson@mu.edu)

(Photo by Ben Erickson/bejamin.a.erickson@mu.edu)

(Photo by Ben Erickson/bejamin.a.erickson@mu.edu)

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Marquette defeated Villanova, 14-9, in the BIG EAST Tournament semifinals Thursday for the first postseason victory in program history. The win likely locked up an at-large bid for the Golden Eagles in the NCAA Tournament barring multiple top seeds losing their respective conference tournaments.

The Golden Eagles will play the winner of the No. 1 Denver vs. Providence game on Saturday. The game will be aired on Fox Sports 2 at 3:30 p.m. Most experts, including Inside Lacrosse’s Bracketology expert Terry Foy, say the Golden Eagles may get into the tournament even with a loss in that game.

“It is probably the most special moment I have had as a coach,” Marquette head coach Joe Amplo told GoMarquette.com. “Our staff, this team, has worked through every challenge and now we have the opportunity to play for a championship. It just means the world to me to have men who care about our youngsters, just trying to push them and support them through every challenge. We find a bunch of kids who believe in each other and don’t let challenges stop them. There is no obstacle that this group doesn’t want to tackle.”

Ryan McNamara had his sixth four-goal game of the season, breaking Tyler Melnyk’s Marquette single-season goal scoring record. He now has 38 goals on the season. Andy DeMichiei scored a hat trick, Conor Gately had two goals and two assists and Tanner Thomson scored two. John Wagner scored two goals, his first tallies since Feb. 27 against Richmond.

A tournament appearance would be the culmination of five years of work for Joe Amplo and five players who arrived on campus a year before the first game was played: Tyler Gilligan, Kyle Whitlow, Dan Mojica, Liam Byrnes and B.J. Grill. Marquette has 19 seniors, the largest senior class in Division I lacrosse, that have been a part of every game since the program began.

The Golden Eagles led from start to finish, scoring the first three goals of the game. Gately was key in the offense, burning his matchup running from X and finding DeMichiei and Wagner for goals.

The Golden Eagles did their damage in runs, scoring two goals in a row twice and three one in the first half. Up 7-3 at the half, it was a four-goal run in third that kept the Golden Eagles comfortably in front for a majority of the second half. Marquette shutout Villanova’s offense for eight minutes to take an 11-5 lead.

Grill shut down Villanova’s leading scorer Jake Froccaro, only allowing him one shot on goal in the first half. His only goal on the day came in the final minute after the game was already locked up.

Villanova was able to cut the lead back to three at the end of the third and first half of the fourth quarter, but Marquette was able to kill the clock very effectively. McNamara’s goal with 5:50 left after a long offensive possession all but ended Villanova’s comeback efforts. Thomson and McNamara were able to score on the empty net to close out the game.

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