JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville University men’s lacrosse team has played some excellent defense in the last two weeks, now the offense looks to pick up the slack and earn the team its first win of the 2014 campaign as the Dolphins (0-4) play host to the Marquette Golden Eagles (1-3) on Saturday afternoon at D.B. Milne Field. The opening face-off between the two sides is set for 2 p.m.
In each of the last two games, Jacksonville has limited its opponent to eight goals each. What hasn’t been expected is that the Dolphins have managed only a combined 11 goals in that time, sending JU to consecutive defeats against solid but unranked opponents. Senior goalkeeper Pete DeLuca leads the nation with an average of 15.0 saves per game, but the Dolphins have to do a better job of holding onto possession and converting opportunities in order to compete for the Atlantic Sun title.
Luckily, the schedule will provide them the chance to work out the kinks. The month of March sees Jacksonville take on four straight non-conference opponents, with the first half of that stretch coming at home. There’s no shortage of breakout offensive candidates on the Dolphins roster, so the question seems to be when, not if, Jacksonville will snap its season-opening slide and begin to show the form that made the team a nearly unanimous choice to win the A-Sun title.
Marquette comes in on a two-game slide of its own. The Golden Eagles began the year 1-1 with a loss at a ranked Lehigh squad before an 11-9 victory at Hofstra. The last two games have seen the team suffer losses to Ohio State and Marist though, giving up 27 goals in the process. Marquette has three main attackers, with Tyler Melnyk leading the team with nine goals and five assists. Kyle Whitlow has seven goals, as does Bryan Badolato after a five-goal day against the Red Foxes last weekend. In goal, JJ Sagl has just a .258 save percentage and is allowing 12.25 goals per game.
This will be the second consecutive season that the teams have met. Marquette spends much of its early schedule on the road due to the weather conditions up north, and the two teams met at D.B. Milne Field last year as well. Five straight goals to open the contest put Jacksonville in command in that one and the Dolphins were rarely troubled in a 13-7 victory. Dakota Rohlin opened the scoring and had two goals on the day.
“We know we will have our hands full with a very talented Marquette team this weekend,” said Head Coach Guy Van Arsdale. “For us the issues remain the same; we need to do a better job of getting the ball off the ground and taking care of it. Perhaps our biggest area of improvement needs to be our ability to get our shots on cage. If we do not get significantly better in this area we will continue to struggle.”
Jacksonville stays at home next weekend for another non-conference test, this one coming against Air Force at 12 p.m.