Dome already paying off for men’s and women’s lacrosse

Marquette+and+High+Point+play+Saturday+in+a+scrimmage+at+the+dome.

Photo by Austin Anderson

Marquette and High Point play Saturday in a scrimmage at the dome.

When Marquette inflated the dome at Valley Fields, it was the final step in a strategic move the university said would benefit all the school’s varsity and club sports teams.

A week in it’s being used heavily, packed from 6 a.m. until midnight every day with practices. There are positives for any team who gets to use the facility, but no teams are benefiting more immediately than men’s and women’s lacrosse.

Last weekend the men’s lacrosse team hosted a preseason scrimmage for the first time in program history, welcoming High Point to Milwaukee. Everything didn’t go according to plan, as the heater for the dome broke down the night before, but it was still a notable move for the team.

Head coach Joe Amplo said there was no way the team could convince a team to come up to Milwaukee without the dome, especially on a day like Saturday when it’s below 15 degrees.

“We couldn’t get a game before March,” Amplo said. “It was an anomaly to have Bellarmine here last year in February. That was just a favor. There’s no way. Heck, why would they? We would not have been able to play outside today. It would have been a waste of money.”

The men’s team will host two more scrimmages Saturday against Penn and Milwaukee School of Engineering, and there’s a good chance the Midwest Lacrosse Classic, featuring Marquette, Ohio State, Detroit Mercy and Bellarmine, will be played in the dome as well.

“For these guys to have the opportunity to not travel, it helps them academically,” Amplo said. “Then after that it doesn’t have the wear and tear that it used to on the season. Some years with a young team, by the time April rolls around we’ve traveled 11 (to) 15,000 miles on planes, trains and automobiles.”

The women’s team’s start to the season is even more drastic. The Golden Eagles will play a regular season game this weekend. Louisville went 12-6 last season and made the NCAA Tournament and will be the first women’s lacrosse team to travel to Marquette earlier than Feb. 23.

Besides playing games, it also gives both teams a chance to ramp up to the season regardless of the weather outside. The teams no longer have to play in a gym or travel somewhere off campus to play on a field that resembles what they’ll play on during the season.

“We’ve only been in it four days, but it’s a game changer,” Meredith Black, women’s lacrosse head coach, said. “In just those four days we had two days where we were at a windchill of like zero or two. You can get stuff done in those temperatures but it’s just harder and presents a challenge that’s uncontrolled and makes everything difficult.”

“In our sport we don’t get many places like this that have a full field,” Amplo said.

It’s a matter of seeing if the new facility translates to a hot start to the season.