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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Amplo not concerned with men’s lacrosse’s lack of goal scoring depth

Photo by Brian Georgeson
John Wagner will be the focal point of Marquette’s attack this season. He scored 22 goals last season.

Heading into his sixth season at the helm of Marquette lacrosse, head coach Joe Amplo faces a sizable challenge. Marquette lost 61 percent of its scoring from last season.

“It’s going to be a more team-focused approach on offense,” Amplo said. “In the past, we’ve had some guys who have put in really good individual performances. I think you’ll see that but not as consistently as you have in the past until roles develop.”

The graduations of Ryan McNamara, Andy DiMichiei and Kyran Clarke were already going to make offense more difficult this year. Tanner Thomson’s injury redshirt made that problem even harder to solve. The emphasis is going to be placed on junior John Wagner, who scored 22 goals last season, to lead the attack.

“He understands that now the ball is going to be in his stick most of the time,” Amplo said. “He’s accepted it, and I think he likes it.”

Through two preseason exhibition games, the Golden Eagles have proven to be a competitive squad with combined 19 goals against Cleveland State and No. 11 Johns Hopkins. In Saturday’s scrimmage, over 30 players got minutes as the Golden Eagles held the Bluejays scoreless in the second quarter. But Hopkins pulled away with four fourth-quarter goals to steal a home victory.

The offensive philosophy this year will be “high-paced patience,” according to the coaching staff. Amplo and his fellow coaches have found that the offensive success rate skyrockets dramatically when the offense reaches 20 passes per possession. Associate head coach and offensive coordinator Stephen Brundage said the pace of the game will warrant success if they stick to the game plan.

“You don’t want to play so slow where the ball is not moving and you’re kind of looking around and there’s the patience part of it,” Brundage said. The Golden Eagles instead will be looking for a great scoring opportunity with a methodical approach rather than a run-n-gun offense.

The preseason schedule will prepare Marquette for another tough slate this season. Games against Duke, Notre Dame, Michigan and Ohio State in the non-conference portion offer several opportunities for quality wins. The BIG EAST is expected to be one of the better conferences in the country again, too as two teams made the NCAA Tournament.

“In this year’s conference, I see this as being the most competitive top to bottom since we’ve been in it,” Amplo continued. “There’s going to be a battle every week, and that’s exciting for all of us.”

Although the Denver Pioneers are the conference favorites, Villanova scored seven goals to knock off No. 12 Penn State on the road in its season opener.

“Villanova has their strongest team in years,” Amplo said. “They just picked up a goalie who is very good. Their offense is very good. Defensively, they are older than they were last year.”

Fans can expect Marquette to counter the BIG EAST’s scoring talent with a gritty defensive unit that returns most of its key players. Colin Riehl is the unit’s only senior.

“(The defense) has to raise their level of expectation,” Amplo said. “They have to understand that they are still young, most of them … and that’s a good and a bad thing. We’re built to be good for a long time, but we are also young.”

Marquette will have senior leadership between the pipes thanks to senior Cole Blazer. The Libertyville, Illinois, native took over the starting role more than two seasons ago and has never looked back.

“He’s been in every big moment this program has been in these past three years,” Amplo said. “If things don’t go well, he’s seen them, and if things do well, he’s also seen them.”

With the season opener just two weeks away, Amplo is ready to get the season started.

“It’s going to be a long year and we’re going to have to be better today than we were yesterday,” Amplo said. “Yesterday was a step in the right direction, and hopefully tomorrow is better than today.”

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