Men’s lacrosse drops home opener to Utah 12-11

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Graduate student midfielder Anthony Courcelle (99) defends a Utah player in Marquette men’s lacrosse’s 12-11 loss to the Utes Feb. 26. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

After opening the 2022 season with two road games, the Marquette men’s lacrosse team returned to Valley Fields Saturday afternoon to host Utah in its home opener on National Marquette Day.

In what was a back and forth contest, the Golden Eagles fell to the Utes by a score of 12-11.

“It was an incredible turnout, especially on National Marquette Day with a hoops game going on,” Marquette head coach Andrew Stimmel said. “But really I’m proud of the fight of our guys. It was a back-and-forth game and they (Utah) came out on top today.”

The Utes started the contest with no time to waste as junior defender Samual Cambere put one past Marquette redshirt first-year goalkeeper Michael Allieri with a little over one minute into the game.

Utah continued to put pressure on Marquette’s defense as they fired four wide shots in a row until, sophomore attacker Russell Melendez scored on his second attempted shot of the match for the Golden Eagles.

Utah quickly responded by scoring back-to-back goals within six seconds of each other.

The fast-paced cat and mouse game continued throughout the first quarter. Marquette trailed by three until redshirt sophomore Devon Cowan scored his fourth goal of the season.

With 16 seconds remaining in the quarter, first-year attack Bobby O’ Grady scored his first goal of the game, which tied up the contest 5-5 heading into the second quarter.

The second quarter followed the similar back-and-forth pattern that was seen in the game’s initial play.

“We have to continue to get better in the middle of the field, work on making one stops and clearing the ball the first time,” redshirt sophomore defensive player Mason Woodward said. “Utah did a great job exploiting that (weaknesses), but I know we can get better and improve in that aspect.”

Utah led 9-7 heading into halftime after the first 30 minutes of action.

The Utes out-shot the Golden Eagles 24-22 in the half while Marquette won 10-of-18 face-offs.

Redshirt sophomore Griffin Fries scored the first goal of the second half. The goal marked Fries’ fourth of the season and second on the afternoon.

Fries and Cowan both had two goals on the afternoon, while Melendez posted a hat trick.

Marquette’s offense began to take control as Cowan scored with 6:27 in the third to tie it back up at 9-9. Not long after, a Golden Eagles penalty gave the Utes an extra-man opportunity at which they took advantage of by scoring with 2:52 left in the third quarter.

First-year attacker Will Foster kicked off the final fifteen minutes of play by scoring his first goal of his collegiate career.

“He stepped up and had some really nice plays for us as a true freshman,” Stimmel said.

Despite a late goal from Melendez, the Utes came up with the 12-11 victory.

“There’s a bunch of disappointed guys in the locker room, those guys expect to win every time they take the field. We (Marquette) have a lot to build on for both sides of the ball,” Stimmel said.

Woodward finished with six caused turnovers, which set a new Marquette single-game record. The record was previously held by Liam Byrnes who had five in Marquette’s game against Detroit Mercy back on March 6, 2016.

Marquette (1-2) will be back at Valley Fields Tuesday to host the University of Michigan at 1 p.m. CST.

“We have to get back to the fundamentals, that’s what lacrosse is all about: the fundamentals and getting our identity down,”Woodward said.

Stimmel said Tuesday’s non-conference matchup will be a challenging one for his team.

“We always want to challenge ourselves with out of conference play to prepare us,” Stimmel said. “It’s an opportunity for us to take steps and get better.”

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