Marquette Wire

PREVIEW: Marquette hosts season opener Saturday against Jacksonville

John+Wagner%2C+who+scored+22+goals+last+year%2C+will+be+charged+with+leading+Marquette%27s+offense.
John Wagner, who scored 22 goals last year, will be charged with leading Marquette's offense.

John Wagner, who scored 22 goals last year, will be charged with leading Marquette's offense.

Photo by Austin Anderson

Photo by Austin Anderson

John Wagner, who scored 22 goals last year, will be charged with leading Marquette's offense.

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Marquette’s sixth season of lacrosse starts Saturday with a matchup against the Jacksonville Dolphins at the Valley Fields Dome Saturday at noon.

The Dolphins enter Saturday’s matchup with a 1-1 regular season record, winning their first game against Navy and dropping their second to No. 1 Duke.

Last weekend’s scrimmage against the University of Pennsylvania didn’t go according to plan for the Golden Eagles.

“I don’t think we competed as a Marquette team should compete,” head coach Joe Amplo said. “They outplayed us in every aspect of the game. It was a good exhibition for us. It exposed some of our deficiencies and made us aware of what we need to focus on.”

While the Dolphins come into Valley Fields with a couple of games under their belt, this will be Marquette’s first regular season game of 2018 after three preseason scrimmages over the past few weeks. Although Marquette beat Jacksonville 17-1 to open last year’s slate, head coach Joe Amplo expects things to be tougher this time around.

“They are much improved from last year,” Amplo said. “They’re good at the face-offs, they’re good in the goal, they’ve got a couple of guys who are very strong offensively and defensively, they’re going to be very well-coached.”

Jacksonville went 3-4 in Southern Conference play last season after losing all seven non-conference games. Competing in the SoCon was proof enough of the Dolphins’ ability for Amplo.

“Those teams, they play with that edge that they’re going to be in a dog fight every single time out,” Amplo said. “Their kids are older than our younger group and they’ve been in these dog fights and this is the first opportunity for us to be in a dog fight.”

Most of last year’s offense will not be back for Marquette. Leading goalscorer Joseph Dunn (24 goals) graduated, as did Ryan McNamara (22), who was tied for the second-most goals on the team. Senior Tanner Thomson (20) will be redshirting this season, which means it’s up to junior John Wagner (22) to lead the offense.

Marquette may be a young team, but it has still earned plenty of credit around the nation. In the NCAA’s preseason standings, the Golden Eagles were ranked No. 17 in the nation and are currently at No. 20. (Several other teams have already played their opening games.)

Most of that ranking is attributable to the fact that Marquette has won the last two BIG EAST conference championships. Although the Golden Eagles received national recognition early on, Amplo continues to keep expectations lower than what fans and critics may expect.

“Honestly, I never put high expectations on the team,” Coach Amplo said. “I think it’s a natural progression for us, as a group, to have high expectations because we’ve been successful. We’ve got to learn how to manage that as a program. I do think that there’s outside expectations, but internally, we’re trying really hard not to change the way we do our business.”

Regardless of fans’ expectations, Marquette isn’t looking past the next game.

“I know you’re going to see a different lacrosse team, if you watched us in Penn, this week,” Amplo said. “A team that will play more confident, more aggressive and we’ll look more in sync than they did on Saturday.”

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