DENVER – No. 19 Marquette captured its first BIG EAST Conference Men’s Lacrosse Championship on Saturday afternoon at Peter Barton Stadium by toppling No. 1 Denver, 10-9, to secure the league’s NCAA Championship automatic bid.
The victory is Marquette’s first in five meetings against Denver and also snapped the Pioneers’ NCAA-best 22-game home winning streak at Peter Barton Stadium. It is also only the second victory ever for a Marquette team in any sport over the nation’s number one team. The only other MU team to beat the country’s No. 1 was the 2003 men’s basketball team led by Dwyane Wade over Kentucky in the Elite Eight.
Sophomore Tanner Thomson scored a game-high four goals for the Golden Eagles (11-4), who tallied all six goals in the third quarter and strung together seven in a row until DU scored first in the final frame.
Junior Andy DeMichiei, who again wore Kyle Whitlow’s No. 6 jersey, posted a pair of goals to bring his tournament total to five combined in the semis and final.
Tournament most outstanding player Liam Byrnes picked up six ground balls and caused a pair of turnovers in the victory and played a big role in helping sophomoreZachary Melillo win 12-of-23 faceoffs (52.2 percent) against DU’s Trevor Baptiste. Melillo was named to the all-tournament team along with classmates Thomson, goalie Cole Blazer and graduate student Byrnes.
Blazer made nine timely saves for the Golden Eagles and held two of the nation’s highest-powered offenses in Villanova and Denver to a total of 18 goals in two games of tournament play.
Colton Jackson and Zach Miller each posted hat tricks for the defending NCAA Champion Pioneers (13-2), who led by five goals at one point and were up 7-3 at the half.
Marquette raced out of the break as Melillo won 5-of-7 draws in the third quarter and MU scored all six of the frame’s markers. MU was outscored 6-0 by DU in the third quarter of last Saturday’s regular season finale at Peter Barton Stadium.
MU entered the final quarter with a 9-7 lead after Thomson’s final goal, but allowed a pair of goals from Miller to tie the game 9-9 with 12:19 remaining. DeMichiei scored the game winner with 5:55 remaining and MU’s top ranked defense held the Pios off the board for the remainder of the contest.
The Pioneers had a final crack at tying things up with under a minute to play, but Byrnes knocked the ball out of Connor Cannizzaro’s stick and it was picked up by Griffin Connor, who completed the clear and MU ran out the clock.
The day’s first goal was scored with 12:01 left in the first by Thomson and was immediately followed by a lightning strike, causing play to be delayed for 36 minutes. Denver scored the next three goals after play resumed and led 7-3 at the half.
Byrnes scored his first goal of the year in the second quarter to halt the 3-0 DU run.