Marquette Wire

Marquette continues stellar record in one-goal games

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Marquette lacrosse is 21-8 in one-goal games in its program's history.

Marquette lacrosse is 21-8 in one-goal games in its program's history.

Photo by Kate Holstein

Photo by Kate Holstein

Marquette lacrosse is 21-8 in one-goal games in its program's history.

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For all the game-winning goals that John Wagner has scored this season, he said he does not like the nickname “Johnny Clutch.”

The junior attackman from St. David’s, Ontario, has scored five game-winning goals this season and four in overtime. Although he’s gotten the credit, and his name is the last to appear on the scoresheet, it’s his teammates who have helped him get there.

“You don’t score without the other five people out there,” Wagner said. “Even though the ball is in my stick and I just happened to make the play, you don’t get to that point without five other people out there.”

The trend of winning games by one goal has become part of the program’s lore. Marquette has consistently found ways to beat teams in nerve-wracking fashion. Twenty-one of Marquette’s 45 wins in program history have been one-goal games, and the Golden Eagles are 21-8 all-time in games that are decided by one goal.

Meanwhile, BIG EAST foe Villanova had two games that were decided by one goal in the entire 2017 season and have four this season.

Marquette coach Joe Amplo, now in his sixth season at Marquette, said he believes the program’s ability to win close games late speaks volumes about which team wants it more.

“I do believe that the one-goal win success rate is one of the things we’re most proud of,” Amplo said. “This group historically has found a way to win.”

Amplo called figuring out a way to win late in games a “team mantra,” alluding to the 2016 and 2017 BIG EAST Championships against Denver and Providence. The only two championships in program history were both one-goal games.

Last week saw Marquette visit both ends of the one-goal game spectrum. Wednesday, Marquette was leading rival Notre Dame late in the game until the Irish scored two goals in the final 42 seconds to pull off an unlikely win. Amplo called the loss “the one that stung the most.”

The Golden Eagles found a string of luck Saturday when they were down by four goals with just 97 seconds remaining against Providence. The Golden Eagles stormed back to score five, including the game-winner in overtime.

Per usual, John Wagner scored the game-winner against Providence Amplo said that toward the end of the game, they want the ball in Wagner’s stick.

“The ball is always in his stick for a reason,” Amplo said. “In overtime, (my staff) and I were saying, ‘What do we want to do?’ And then all of us said, ‘Just get the ball to John.'”

Whether it was defeating Denver to win the first BIG EAST Championship in 2016, or beating No. 4 Ohio State earlier this season, Wagner said he has always enjoyed being a part of one-goal games.

“We say going into every game that it’s going to be a close game,” he said. “We know it’s going to be a gritty win every single time we play.”

Wagner said its the players before him that helped set the standard for how the Golden Eagles should play down the stretch.

“Last year it was (Ryan McNamara), and the year before that when we won the BIG EAST Championship for the first time, it was with Andy DeMichiei,” Wagner said. “It’s been a long history of guys stepping up when they’ve needed to.”

One-goal games are a necessary teaching tool for players for Amplo.

In the heat of the moment in a late game scenario, Amplo says that it is hard to know how players will react, but that’s what makes the moments exciting, because it’s unpredictable.

“You can go through those scenarios a million times in practice — you cannot teach those moments until you go through them.”

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