PREVIEW: Men’s lacrosse fights to keep season alive against No. 12 Denver

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PREVIEW: Men’s lacrosse fights to keep season alive against No. 12 Denver

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

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Marquette men’s lacrosse (6-7, 2-2 BIG EAST) will take on No. 12 Denver (8-4, 3-1 BIG EAST) Friday night at Valley Fields with major ramifications for the BIG EAST Tournament.

If Marquette beats Denver, Providence beats Villanova and Georgetown beats St. John’s, there will be a five-way tie for first place. Because of the goal differential tiebreaker, Marquette would likely miss out on the playoffs despite holding a share of the BIG EAST regular-season crown.

A win will not guarantee a spot in the BIG EAST Tournament, but a loss will likely knock Marquette out of playoff contention.

Head coach Joe Amplo said they are simply focused on Denver, not the playoff scenarios.

“It’s the next game for us. It’s the next opportunity for us to play better than we did last week,” Amplo said. “That’s all we can do. If we play better than we did last week, we’ll have a chance to win.”

The Golden Eagles are coming off three straight losses, the most recent being a 10-9 overtime loss against the No. 3 Duke Blue Devils. Even though it ended in defeat, senior Noah Richard says it was not all bad.

“(We are) coming off our best game we’ve played this season,” Richard said.

Marquette’s final regular-season opponent, the Denver Pioneers, have only lost one BIG EAST regular-season game in the team’s existence. Amplo said his squad must pay attention to the little things. Otherwise the game will get away from them quickly.

“(We have to) play with focus. We’ve got to pay attention to the details,” Amplo said. “We have to be the most attentive team on that field for a win.”

Marquette’s defense will have to deal with multiple All-American candidates in Denver’s attack.

“(Attackman Ethan Walker) is a super skilled player, probably the best lefty shooter in the country,” Richard said. “They have a great X attackman in Austin French. They have a freshman (Ellis Geis) who’s playing really well. Colton (Jackson) is an All-American midfielder, he’s a great shooter, really athletic.”

“Athletically, they’re good, but stick-handling wise, they’re great. Their patterns are terrific, their coaches do a wonderful job of putting them in great spots,” Amplo said. “They move the ball so quickly. So we’ve got to really be fundamentally sound and play together.”

Denver also has several highly-touted close defenders.

“They’re tough, they’re really good defensively,” Amplo said. “They play a unique style. They’ve given us fits in the past. It’s been a low-scoring game for the most part the past couple of years. If each of our guys does their job, we’ll have a decent chance to get looks at the goal.”

Senior John Wagner said the offense is not going to try to do too much.

“Just playing with speed, playing with confidence,” Wagner said. “It’s going to take all six guys on offense to get around them and beat them.”

Even though this might be the final game of the season, Richard said some players are using that pressure to fuel them.

“We’re motivated. We want to survive and advance. In order to do so, we need a win this Friday,” Richard said. “(We’re) just going all-in and getting ready to compete so we can get to play another game.”

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