Fall Snapshot: Marquette Golden Eagles

(Photo Courtesy of Marquette Athletics)

Welcome to the Fall Snapshot series. Throughout the fall I will be taking an early look at all 75 DI men’s college lacrosse teams and giving a snapshot of where each is heading into the 2023 season.

Head Coach: Andrew Stimmel (Fourth Season, 2020-Current)

Marquette 2022 Record: 4-11 (2-3 Big East)

Key Departures: Russel Melendez (M)

Key Returners: Bobby O’Grady (A), Devon Cowan (A), Will Foster (A), Luke Williams (FO), Mason Woodward (D), Michael Allieri (G)

Transfer Additions: Jackson Rose (A, St. Bonaventure), Blake Lori (M, Robert Morris), Matthew Wiengardner (M, Mercer), Nate Surd (M, Hartford CC), Jaydn Castillo (M, CCBC Essex), Grant Evans (FO, Grove City College)

The first three seasons under Andrew Stimmel haven’t yielded the greatest of results for Marquette. After a 3-4 campaign during the shortened 2020 season, the Golden Eagles went 4-8 (3-7) against a Big East-only schedule (minus Notre Dame, Cleveland State). They then went 4-11 with a 2-3 mark in league play this past season, which was the first truly normal season for Stimmel as the Golden Eagles’ head coach.

Despite its shortcomings in recent years, this program has shown a lot of potential future promise and potential. That was especially true last spring. Marquette beat Providence and St. John’s in league play. They have a 9-1 all-time record against St. John’s but hadn’t beaten Providence in consecutive seasons since 2017-2018. They achieved that last season. On top of that, they have twice come close to beating Villanova under Stimmel. That includes a 10-8 loss last season.

Furthermore, young talent graced nearly every position for this squad last season. Nowhere was that more apparent as redshirt freshman Bobby O’Grady and true freshman Will Foster were part of the first attack line. Redshirt freshman Michael Allieri got the start in cage. In 2023, Marquette will be looking to build further upon that talent.

Burning Questions

How Efficient Can The Offense Be?

Per LacrosseReference, Marquette ranked 28th in time of possession as they had the ball 50.9% of the time. However, they were unable to make the most of those possession as the Golden Eagles had an offensive efficiency of 25.9% (62nd in DI). The Golden Eagles averaged 10.47 goals per game as the 52nd ranked scoring offense and had seven games in which they failed to reach double digits. They had a team shooting percentage of 26.2% and a shot on goal percentage of 58.2%.

From that offense last year, the Golden Eagles each of its top-five scorers – only two of which weren’t a freshman. Attackman Bobby O’Grady (45G/5A) led the Marquette with a 50-point freshman campaign that earned him Big East Freshman of The Year Honors. Devon Cowan (21G/8A), Will Foster ( 10G/16A), Jake Stegman (11G/13A), Luke Blanc (16G/4A) were all top-five scorers as well. Foster was a true freshman while Blanc, who transferred in from UMass, was a redshirt freshman.

This Marquette offense was fairly young last season, especially among its top producers. That should yield to much growth being had for that unit as the 2023 season approaches and through the spring. And transfer additions of Jackson Rose (A, St. Bonaventure), Blake Lori (M, Robert Morris), Matthew Wiengardner (M, Mercer), Nate Surd (M, Hartford CC), and Jaydn Castillo (M, CCBC Essex) could very well help with that.

Can The Faceoff Situation Continue to Trend Upwards?

During the 2021 season, Thomas Washington served as the Golden Eagles’ primary option at the dot while Luke Williams was the backup. Washington went 85-for-212 (40%) and Williams went 25-for-60 (41.7%). This past spring, Williams took over as the primary option while Washington served as the backup. Both saw jumps in their production.

Williams went 133-for-234 (56.8%) last spring and was named a Second Team All-Big East selection. That performance included a stretch from March 19th through April 9th (Robert Morris, Air Force, Providence, St, John’s) in which he never went under 60%. He also went 55% against Denver. Washington went 59-for-102 (57.8%) on the year.

Heading into the 2023 season, Washington is gone and Williams returns for his senior season. Senior Cole Emmanuel returns after taking over duties against Georgetown in the Big East Tournament and going 14-for-21 (66%) against James Reilly. The Golden Eagles also brought in a grad transfer in Grant Evans at the position. He went 296-401 (73.8%) for Grove City (DIII) last spring. In short, Marquette has a pretty loaded faceoff room and with that could see further improvement at the position.

How Good Will The Close Defense Be?

Mason Woodward, Zach Granger, and David Lamarca aren’t the biggest poles in college lacrosse but they are a pretty formidable unit. Woodward caused a team-high 19 turnovers last spring while also grabbing 60 ground balls. Granger, who only played in seven games due to injury, had 13 caused turnovers and 18 ground balls. Lamarca grabbed 46 ground balls and caused 12 caused turnovers. Noah Verlinde (12GB/9CT) and Ryan Kilcoyne (5GB/2CT) each saw multiple starts as well.

Marquette has, and has had, a solid group of poles that they can trot out as starters at close and be very effective with. Michael Alleri anchored it all in cage last season, making 192 saves with a 50.3% save percentage.

After a season in which the Golden Eagles allowed 12.8 goals per game, there is improvement to be had on that end of the field. That is even more true in Big East play, where Marquette allowed 14.1 goals per game. It is the one area of the field where they will likely need to improve the most if they want to take that next step.

Potential Breakout Player

Griffin Fries, Attack, Senior

Fries started in the first seven games of the season last spring before being sidelined due to injury. He had four goals and one assists in those seven showings. Given that he is 100%, he could have himself his best season yet this spring.

Freshman Class

Marquette signed an 11-man 2022 recruiting class. The headliner of the class is goalie Luke Lawas (The Hill Academy, Ont.). A former Johns Hopkins verbal, Lawas was rated as a four-star recruit by Inside Lacrosse. He reclassified down from the ’23 cycle.

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