Fazio finds role in starting lineup for MLAX

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Fazio finds role in starting lineup for MLAX

Photo by Elena Fiegen

Photo by Elena Fiegen

Photo by Elena Fiegen

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This season, Marquette men’s lacrosse used eight different attackmen in its starting lineup. One of those options was Ryan Fazio, a 5-foot-11 junior out of Solana Beach, California.

In the beginning of his time at Marquette, Fazio struggled to carve out a consistent role as a starting offensive player for the Golden Eagles. A season ago, Fazio was left on the outskirts of the starting lineup.

“Ryan’s been one of those guys that has always been right on the cusp,” associate head coach Stephen Brundage said. “It’s mentally been a struggle because he’s been in the lineup, out of the lineup, I put him at attack, I put him at middie.”

Toward the end of last season, Fazio earned more starts and showed his offensive prowess, tallying six goals and five assists on the year.

As this season began, he was on the sideline again until the Michigan game this March. The coaches finally decided to insert him back into the starting lineup, which was where he remained for the rest of the season.

Fazio said he credits his starting spot to his calmness on the field and lacrosse knowledge.

“The IQ helps me a lot. (The other attackmen) are all really smart players, but I hope that I bring a calming presence to the offense,” Fazio said. “Coach Brundage is always talking about high-paced patience. When it gets out of hand, I can reel us back in and take control of the game.”

Brundage said Fazio provides a different style of play than other attackmen because of his approach to the game.

“He’s a facilitator, he’s a guy who can make a play for another guy,” Brundage said. “When you watch the game in any sport, you see guys trying to make plays for themselves. Ryan’s a guy who’s trying to make a play for his teammates.”

Fazio said he embraces that role, wanting to be the team’s X attackman, which facilitates the offense.

“I talk a lot. I can be the quarterback back there at (the) X,” Fazio said. “Getting people where they need to be and letting guys like Johnny (Wagner) and Andrew (Romagnoli) work and get their shots off is my skill set. I can just facilitate from X, move the ball when it needs to.”

One of the biggest impacts Fazio has is what head coach Joe Amplo described before the season as an “unrelenting energy,” which the California native brings to the team every day.

“He has a natural love for the game, and you see that,” Brundage said. “If you pause the tape after we score a goal in a game, he’s definitely the most excited guy every time. It seems like a small thing, but he just brings a ton of passion in practice every day.”

“I’m always talking, chirping with the guys, having fun while we’re working hard,” Fazio said. “It’s fun to see when I do make a play, the bench really reacts to it, and it’s exciting. It keeps me going.”

The junior took control against No. 12 Denver, leading his squad with four points on two goals and two assists. Fazio ended the 2019 season with seven goals and six assists in his nine starts. However, he said he recognizes his need to improve.

“My dodging is the main thing (I need to improve). Like I said, I’m not that athletic. I’d love to just pick up the ball off the end line and smoke my guy,” Fazio said. “Hopefully I can start to draw more attention when I do that and open up some more guys around the field.”

Off the field, Brundage said Fazio embodies the California persona.

“He’s definitely laid-back. That’s just his natural disposition, he’s a very relaxed guy,” Brundage said. “He does get really passionate and excited, but he doesn’t seem to get too down on himself when things aren’t going well.”

Fazio will be the only returning starter for the attack unit next season.

“He’s going to be huge (next season). He’s played a lot of lacrosse for us. He’s one of our smartest guys,” Brundage said. “For a senior to have a great understanding of what I want as a coach and be able to pass that down … that’s going to be massive for us.”

Fazio said he has big expectations for his senior year.

“(I want to) get us back to our winning ways and get our team to the next step,” Fazio said. “We always talk about getting us over the hump, getting into the NCAA Tournament (and) going on deep runs, and that’s something I would love to do in my senior year.”

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