PREVIEW: Men’s lacrosse looks to build off last season’s late success

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Marquette men’s lacrosse was picked to finish fourth in the BIG EAST in the Coaches Preseason Poll. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

If there was just one word to define last season for Marquette men’s lacrosse, it would be “unique.”

“We got to play everybody in our conference twice,” head coach Andrew Stimmel said. “That’s something that we’ve never done in program history.”

The Golden Eagles finished with a 4-8, 3-7 BIG EAST record.

“Lot of times you got to find out how you lose games before you find out how to win them,” Stimmel said. “Towards the end of the year (last season), we were able to string a couple wins together and now are really starting to turn the corner as a team.”

While last season has been put in the past, redshirt junior midfielder Logan Kreinz said the team continues to carry the lessons they learned with them.

“We’ve always embraced the underdog mentality. We don’t believe we’re like everyone else,” Kreinz said. “We more so want to prove ourselves right rather than everyone else wrong.”

With the 2022 season already underway, Stimmel said one key message heading into the new campaign is: “love wins one-goal games.”

“Investing into each other, investing into our staff, and investing into our guys. Just trying to invest in the people around you and always trying to find a way to serve and do things for other people,” Stimmel said.

Offense 

“On the offensive side of the ball for us this year we have had a great offseason, and when we’ve been able to scrimmage outside competition, the offense has done a really nice job,” Stimmel said.

Leading the attacking unit is redshirt sophomore Devon Cowan and sophomore Russell Melendez.

Cowan, who hails from Mount Laurel, New Jersey, became the first Marquette underclassman to reach 30 goals last season. He also earned a spot on the All-BIG EAST First Team.

Meanwhile, Melendez, one of the highest ranked recruits in program history, played in the first seven games of the year and made four starts on attack as a true first-year last season. The Maryland native posted seven goals and four assists for 11 points before suffering a season ending injury.

Bobby O’Grady, Nolan Rappis and Will Foster join the unit as first-years.

“Those guys really don’t play like freshmen. They don’t practice that way. I think they’ve learned quickly what it takes at this (college) level,” Stimmel said.

O’Grady, Rappis and Foster all hold mounds of evidence to back up Stimmel. O’Grady was a prominent member of the United States National Team Development Program U-17 Team, Foster was the recipient of Minnesota’s Mr. Lacrosse 2021 and Rappis is a two-time US Lacrosse All-American player.

When it comes to game-day, Stimmel said O’Grady will start as a first-year at the attack.

Redshirt junior Holden Patterson will round out the unit, serving as the team’s man-up specialist.

Patterson said despite the unit as a whole being on the younger end, it doesn’t count for lack of skill or determination.

“The offseason provided a unique opportunity for us to focus not only on the fundamentals of skills that we are working on in practice, but also building our offense as a tight knit culture,” Patterson said. “We took a lot of pride in getting to know those young guys, integrating them into how we like to do things.”

After the graduation of Ryan Fazio, Peter Henkhaus and Connor McClelland, Marquette will feature an entire new first midfield line.

“We graduated a couple five-years, and a lot of those guys happened to be at offense.  Therefore, naturally, we just brought in a lot of younger guys,” Patterson said.

The freshly revamped line will feature three redshirt sophomores in Griffin Fries, Jake Stegman and Chris Kirschner.

“These guys that are looked at as younger have continued to really step up,” Stimmel said.

Rounding out the midfield unit will be sophomores Ellison Burt-Murray, Justin Mintzer and Pierce Washburn, as well as first-year Hayden Miller.

Defense

Of the team’s units, the defensive unit slots a more season makeup of veteran players.

“We dictate things to the offense, we set the tone and communicate,” Kreinz said. “We were fortunate enough to only graduate one player and with that we have our returns, we know where our culture is on the defensive end,” Kreinz said. “We are a very tight knit group and we really care about one another on and off the field.”

Leading the charge on defense will be returning starters redshirt sophomore Mason Woodward and redshirt junior Zach Granger. Both defensemen earned All-BIG EAST Team honors last season while combining for 34 caused turnovers and 79 ground balls.

Expected to fill the third starting spot is sophomore David Lamarca, who appeared in five games last season. Behind the starters will be redshirt first-years Ryan Kilcoyne, Billy Rojack and Jack Kinney.

Kreinz will return as a key part of the long pole unit, along with redshirt sophomore Noah Verlinde and redshirt senior Moey Lardy.

The short stick defensive midfielder is a position of great depth and experience. The crew consists of graduate students Anthony Courcelle, Jacob Hallam and Aaron Joesph. Alongside them will be Max Kruszeski, a redshirt sophomore.

New to the unit is transfer graduate student Mitch Salanty and first-year Tommy Casey.

“This offseason has been more about bringing in some of the newer players and bringing them up to speed on what we do at defensive end,” Kreinz said.

The face-off group is rounded out by redshirt junior Thomas Washington, redshirt sophomore Luke Williams and transfer student Cole Emmanuel, who previously played with Colorado Mesa. 

As for the goalkeeper slot, the Golden Eagles have a pick of three, each of whom is yet to play an official game in the blue and gold.

The eldest at the goal will be Max Christides, a transfer student from UMass Lowell. Christides is coming into Stimmel’s program with a 0.48 save percentage.

Also fresh to Marquette’s goal is Micheal Allieri and Jamie Grant, both of whom are redshirt first-years.

With each aspect of the team working together like a well-oiled machine, Patterson said the team has been able to set big goals for this season.

“Our goal isn’t to make the make the BIG EAST Tournament this year. Our goal is to win the BIG EAST Tournament and to be in the NCAA Tournament. We want to strive to play Memorial Day weekend,” Patterson said.

This article was written by Ava Mares. She can be reached at ava.mares@marquette.edu or on Twitter @avamaresMU.