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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Luke Williams grew up going against his brother. It helped mold him into a multi-faceted player for Marquette

Luke Williams is fifth in the nation in face-off win percentage. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

Luke Williams never imagined it.

The idea of him being one of the most dominant face-off specialists in the nation, but also having his name in the Marquette men’s lacrosse history books was not something he thought would happen. 

“I don’t really like to pay attention to any of those things, I like to focus on the guys in the room and put them in a position to win some games,” Luke said.

But there he was, ahead of the Golden Eagles’ game against Villanova Saturday, having achieved both of those feats. 

The week before playing the Wildcats, in Marquette’s matchup versus Providence, Luke passed Jake Richard — a former USILA All-American and current Marquette assistant coach — and claimed third place in program history with a total of 204 career ground balls. 

“In his (Richard’s) words, ‘What took so long?’” Luke said. “He’s been an incredible role model to look up to, and it’s definitely a big honor.”

It was also against the Friars when Luke became the fourth-best face-off specialist by winning percentage (63.1%) in NCAA Division I lacrosse — he is currently No. 5 (62.0%).

These accomplishments, among others, have stemmed from an interest in the sport that began in Luke’s younger years. His interest sparked back in 2009 when he and his big brother Ben — a former USILA All-American face-off specialist at Syracuse — watched the Orange win the Division I Men’s Lacrosse National Championship together.

The win inspired the two to go out, get some sticks and learn how to catch and throw in their backyard.  

“I remember making Luke dress up in goalie gear,” Ben said. “I wasn’t a very good shooter, so I think I hit him with the ball a few times, and then he would want to fight me.” 

The brothers grew their bond by training together every chance they got.

Luke had learned a lot from Ben about how to become an overall athlete and not just a player who specialized in face-offs. The two would use the offseason as an opportunity to improve by learning and working with one another.

Even though the brotherly competition trained them to become solid all-around players, neither of the two specialized in the face-off position until college.

Ben transferred to Syracuse during his sophomore year and earned the second-most face-off wins in a season in program history (256). He then left in 2017 as the program’s all-time leader in face-off wins (669).

“It was a lot of fun playing against some good competition, and it’s been really fun getting to watch Luke go through a similar progression,” Ben said.

Ben set the bar high for his younger brother, but Luke has proved that he can meet the standards.

Before arriving at Marquette, Luke had experience with the face-off game after watching Ben play the position, but was primarily a midfielder and attacker. When he was recruited, head coach Andrew Stimmel saw him as a player that could eventually develop into a face-off specialist, which he has proven to become. 

“The best face-off guys in the country, of which Luke is one of them, find a way to make that look easy,” Stimmel said. “Anytime you can secure possession more than your opponent, you’re giving yourself a better chance to win.”

This season, Luke has won 123 of 195 face-offs for the team.

“Early on, I was kind of able to compete with him, and I don’t know at what point it was, but there was a point where he’d start annihilating me,” Ben said. “I could not win a face-off. I’d do everything, I’d try to cheat and he was just destroying me.”

Although people might look at it as an individual position, Luke said the team feeds off the energy of winning those face-offs, making it a team effort. 

But Luke isn’t just a “face-off guy.” He is also quick to grab ground balls, a stat Stimmel said holds just as much importance as anything else tracked.

Luke has picked up around 25% of the team’s ground balls this season (87) and is the team’s leader, followed by graduate student defenseman Mason Woodward with 46. He is now only three ground balls away from doubling the 45 he collected last season.

It never crossed Luke’s mind that he would even be able to break records and achieve the goals he has. He said his focus is on what he can do to put his team in a winning position. 

“I don’t really think anybody even knew he was really a face-off guy prior to when he got recruited here,” Stimmel said. “Now he’s become one of the best guys in the nation and is nothing short of incredible.” 

This story was written by Raquel Ruiz. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter/X @RaquelRuizMU.

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About the Contributor
Raquel Ruiz
Raquel Ruiz, Sports Reporter
Raquel Ruiz is a first-year student from Mundelein, Illinois studying digital media and is a Sports Reporter for the Marquette Wire for the 2023-2024 school year. Outside of the Wire, she enjoys playing volleyball, volunteering in her local community, spending time with friends and family and binge-watching tv shows. She is excited to learn from different people and explore what it is like to be a journalist in the media field.

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