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Offense clicks in men’s lacrosse’s 17-9 win against St. John’s

Photo by Maggie Bean (Marquette Athletics)

Photo by Maggie Bean (Marquette Athletics)

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The weather was perfect for men’s lacrosse’s first outdoor home game of the season. A mild breeze blew by on a 60-degree day as Marquette squared up against St. John’s on the far field of Valley Fields. Despite the near perfect conditions, face-off specialist Zack Melillo couldn’t help but think about the last time he was on this field, Marquette’s NCAA Tournament loss to North Carolina.

Melillo went early on the first draw of the game, just like he did against the Tar Heels. After four draws, things still weren’t going his way.

“Coach (Joe) Amplo really calmed me down,” Melillo said. “He made me think about funny jokes and stuff to really calm my nerves. He just had to reset me.”

Then he dominated. Melillo won 13 straight draws and went a perfect 11-for-11 in the second half. He swung the possession to Marquette’s offense, and they made it worth his effort.

The offensive unit was firing on all cylinders, tying a program record for goals in a game in their 17-9 win against the Red Storm. Tanner Thomson led the way, matching his season total with a sock trick (six goals). He tied Jordan Greenfield for second in program history for goals in a game.

“The game just kind of came to him today,” Amplo said. “He was getting the short stick. He was feeling it with his dodge. They weren’t sliding to him too quickly early, so he had some good looks and he buried his shots.”

“I think our offense was just clicking really well, getting open shots,” Thomson said. “That was basically the key to the whole game.”

Despite the lopsided final score, St. John’s stuck around for a majority of the game. The Johnnies went on a three-goal run at the end of the first quarter and beginning of the third to make it 6-4 in favor of St. John’s. After being held scoreless for 15 minutes Marquette’s offense started to click, scoring the final three goals of the second quarter and outscoring St. John’s 10-3 in the second half.

“We decided to just settle in and start making little plays,” Amplo said. “I thought we got a little greedy early in the game and tried to make too much happen. … Our guys just kept grinding it out.”

The second-half chances kept accumulating for the Golden Eagles, who got 28 shots off in the final two frames, thanks to Melillo’s consistent play.

“Everyone had faith,” Melillo said. “They didn’t get frustrated with my performance in the first half. … If the offense has the ball, they are going to put in into the net. Our job is to get them the ball. If we do our job, they can do their job and they do it very well.”

“Zack is one of those guys (where) we’re going to go with him,” Amplo said. “That’s a lot of pressure for him, but he wants to accept that. Now he’s kind of a marked man because people know how tough he is.”

Ryan McNamara, Joe Dunn and Robbie Pisano each scored twice for the Golden Eagles. John Wagner, Luke Anderson and Keenan Moffitt rounded out the scoring.

The win moves Marquette to 2-1 in the BIG EAST and 6-3 overall, but Marquette has little time to sit back and think about its record. The Golden Eagles travel to South Bend Monday to prepare for their Tuesday tilt with the No. 4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

Marquette was excellent against the Fighting Irish last season, taking Notre Dame to overtime before giving up. That proved to many on the team that they can hang with the Midwest’s most successful program.

“It proves that we’re right there with them if we just play the game and do whatever we need to do,” Thomson said.

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