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Men’s lacrosse falls 15-9 to No. 4 Notre Dame in NCAA Tournament

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John Wagner fights of Notre Dame defenders in Marquette's NCAA Tournament game Sunday.

John Wagner fights of Notre Dame defenders in Marquette's NCAA Tournament game Sunday.

Photo by Brian Georgeson

Photo by Brian Georgeson

John Wagner fights of Notre Dame defenders in Marquette's NCAA Tournament game Sunday.

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SOUTH BEND, INDIANA — It was a career day for a pair of Notre Dame midfielders named Brendan as the Fighting Irish ended Marquette’s season in the first round of the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row.

With stars Sergio Perkovic and Ryder Garnsey playing hurt, Notre Dame needed other players to step up and they got exactly what they needed. Sophomore Brendan Gleason scored five goals, tying a Notre Dame NCAA Tournament record. His teammate, junior Brendan Collins, scored a career-high four goals.

“They’re really good at lacrosse,” Marquette head coach Joe Amplo said. “That’s pretty obvious. I know two of their better players were probably injured and banged up, and their other guys stepped up and they beat us up today. We got beat by a better team and that’s okay to say.”

Notre Dame came out of the gate strong, scoring two goals in the first three minutes of the game. John Wagner opened the scoring for Marquette halfway through the first quarter, but the Fighting Irish scored two more to make it 4-1 just one minute into the second quarter.

Andy DeMichiei, Joe Dunn and Ryan McNamara each scored in less than a minute and a half to tie things up, but Notre Dame answered with a 3-0 run of their own to end the quarter, making it 7-4 at halftime in favor of the home team.

“Early in the game we were just trying to feel them out,” senior DeMichiei said. “Then at some point we realized that we weren’t going to be able to beat them. They’re a good defense, we’re not going to be able to beat them one-on-one.”

“At first I think we were kind of playing the moment, then maybe after the first quarter we started getting in our mojo and kind of understanding that it’s just a game, the same game we play everyday,” senior McNamara said. “We started getting kind of in rhythm and then they kind of switched it up on us and it kind of messed us up a little bit.”

The second half belonged to Notre Dame as well, where they doubled their three-goal lead over the course of the third period.

After going down 12-6 late in the third quarter Marquette scored three of the next four to make it 13-9 and turned on the pressure, threatening a comeback. But Notre Dame was up for the challenge, scoring the final two goals of the contest to win the game 15-9.

“I’m proud of our kids,” Amplo said. “I’m proud of them fighting, it’s just wasn’t our day to pull out something that was pretty magical.”

Notre Dame’s ride and ability to control the pace of the game gave Marquette fits throughout the game.

“They started to ride us a little bit and we practiced all week expecting their pressure ride, and credit to them, they’re very good at it,” Amplo said. “They’re very good at changing the tide and the comfort in the middle of the field.”

Marquette’s second appearance in the NCAA Tournament ended without a win once again, but it was a competitive end to another impressive year for the young program.

“There is a standard that is expected now of Marquette lacrosse and when kids come here they’re going to expect to compete at this level and one day have a chance to execute well enough to win,” Amplo said.

Sunday’s defeat was the final game for 11 Golden Eagle seniors, each of which was a member of the two most successful Marquette teams in program history.

“It’s tough, it’s really tough,” senior Dunn said. “We’ve been saying it the past couple weeks, we just want more time together, time with this team. So that’s the hardest pill to swallow — that it’s over for us and we don’t get to spend more time with out friends and our guys. That’s the hardest thing.”

Marquette finishes its season with an 8-8 record, another signature victory over a top-five Denver squad and a second NCAA Tournament appearance for the program.

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