Marquette comes up short in season opener against Denver

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First-year attacker Russell Melendez (31) and redshirt junior attacker Griffin Fleming (18) look to celebrate during Marquette’s game against Denver on Saturday afternoon (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

The Marquette Golden Eagles (0-1, 0-1 BIG EAST) fell to the Denver Pioneers (3-2, 1-0 BIG EAST) 10-9 Saturday afternoon in their first game of the 2021 spring season.

Junior midfielder Alex Simmons led the charge for Denver and posted his first career hat trick after scoring three goals in the first quarter. Simmons would finish with four on the game, all of which came in the first half.

Marquette redshirt junior attacker Griffin Fleming posted a hat trick in his first game since 2019. He also assisted redshirt junior attacker Anthony Orsini’s goal in the third quarter to finish with four points on the afternoon.

The Golden Eagles put the first goal on the board after redshirt junior midfielder Jacob Hallam connected with the back of the net under four minutes into the game, but the Pioneers responded with six unanswered goals.

Trailing 6-1 with seven and a half minutes until halftime, Fleming and redshirt first-year attacker Devon Cowan were able to score, cutting the Denver lead to three before the break.

Redshirt first-year goalie Sean Richard got his first career start in his first career collegiate game for Marquette. He finished the day with eight saves while allowing six goals. Redshirt junior goalie John Hulsman took over in net in the second half and finished with a save percentage of 64%. Hulsman started five games last season and made a team-high 50 saves.

The Pioneers took advantage of their man-up opportunities in the second half, as two of their three goals in the third quarter came after Marquette penalties. Despite allowing three goals in the third, the Golden Eagles scored three of their own to keep things close.

Denver entered the fourth quarter up 9-6 and extended their lead with a goal from graduate student attacker Jackson Morrill. The second all-time leader in points at Yale finished with two goals, one assist, one ground ball and three shots on goal in his debut with the Pioneers.

The Marquette defense was strong in the fourth and the team outshot DU 12-7. It was also the only quarter where MU did not lose the faceoff battle. The Pioneers won 13 of the 22 faceoffs, while the Golden Eagles won nine.

MU cut the lead to two after goals from Fleming and redshirt sophomore attacker Holden Patterson. With just over seven minutes left, Denver made a defensive stand and allowed six shots, two of which were saved by sophomore goalie Jack Thompson. Thompson played the entire game and made 10 saves and had a save percentage of 53%.

Cowan scored once again with 2.8 seconds left, but it was a case of too little too late for the Golden Eagles and the Pioneers were able to hang on for their third win of the season.

While the Marquette attacking brigade accounted for eight of the team’s goals, it was a quiet afternoon for graduate student attacker Morgan Macko, who scored 61 goals in 45 career games in his time at Bellarmine University. Macko finished with just one shot attempt and one assist.

Redshirt first-year midfielder Chris Kirschner was also held in check and got off just one shot on goal. Kirschner led Marquette in both goals and points last season during his impressive first-year campaign.

The Golden Eagles will now look to bounce back Feb. 27 against the Villanova Wildcats (0-0, 0-0 BIG EAST) at 11 a.m. Central Standard Time back at Valley Fields.

This story was written by Nick Galle. He can be reached at nicholas.galle@marquette.edu or on Twitter @thenickgalle.