PROVIDENCE – For the second year in a row, the Marquette University men’s lacrosse team knocked off top-seeded Denver in the BIG EAST Championship with a 10-8 victory in the semifinals on Thursday afternoon at Anderson Stadium in Providence.
Sophomore John Wagner scored a career-high four goals and junior goalie Cole Blazer made 12 saves as the Golden Eagles (7-7) advanced to their second BIG EAST title game in program history. Senior Joe Dunn added a pair of goals, as did classmate Grant Preisler on a pair of spectacular dodges around the cage from X at goal-line extended.
The second-ranked Pioneers (11-3) scored the game’s first goal, but never led by more than one with their last lead coming at 5-4 on Tyler Pace’s tally at the 4:49 mark of the second quarter. The senior’s hat trick led Denver, which entered the tilt on six-game winning streak, while Connor Cannizzaro also had three markers, including DU’s final goal to tie the game, 8-8, with 11:34 remaining.
Wagner posted the eventual game winner with 8:12 left at the edge of the crease from Dunn and Ryan McNamara tallied the day’s final marker with just over four to play.
Blazer’s 12 saves came after not registering a stop for the first time in his career as a starter in MU’s 16-8 loss to Denver just five days ago in the regular season finale. He made four pivotal stops in the fourth quarter as MU held the Pioneers off the board for the final 11 minutes.
Marquette’s faceoff unit ended up winning 8-of-22 draws, but did enough on All-American Trevor Baptiste to come out victorious. DU also out-shot MU, 34-29, and picked up 26 ground balls to Marquette’s 16, though the Pios did commit 14 turnovers in the loss.
For Marquette, the win is its first over a ranked opponent this season and moves its all-time record in the conference tournament to 3-2. MU is also the only BIG EAST team to ever defeat the Pioneers (26-2) since they joined the conference, whether it be in regular season or league tournament action.
The win for Marquette also snaps a four-game losing streak and is its first since April 8 over St. John’s, 17-9.
The Golden Eagles will take on the winner of Saturday’s second semifinal between second-seeded and No. 15 Villanova and third-seeded Providence. The game will air live on FS2 at 3:30 p.m. Central time.