Yesterday we brought the class of 2016 up to speed on Marquette's most high profile sport with our discussion of the men's basketball team. Today we're going to introduce them to the other spectator sports at Marquette. Three of them are fall sports and all three have matches tomorrow night to get everyone started off on the right foot!
We'll get started with the team that's already started their fall schedule. Marquette is YOUR three time defending Big East American Division champion in women's soccer. Not only have they won their conference division three years running, but they've also qualified for the NCAA tournament four years in a row. They're currently ranked #13 in the country in the NSCAA poll and #9 in the Soccer America poll. Junior forward Maegan Kelly is the leading returning scorer for the Golden Eagles and senior defender Ally Miller was named Big East Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. The first match of the season was last Friday against St. Bonaventure, which ended in a 4-0 win. The women pick back up tomorrow night at 8:30pm in the second half of a men's & women's soccer doubleheader with both squads taking on their cross-town counterparts from UW-Milwaukee. You students get in to all soccer games for free, as long as you have your MU ID on you, of course. While you're going, be sure to wear a navy blue shirt to be part of the NAVY NIGHTMARE against those dastardly Panthers.
Speaking of men's soccer, we'll get to them next, but you'll have to hit the jump for that!
Men's soccer is coming off one of their most successful seasons. Last year, they won the Big East's Blue Division and midfielder Calum Mallace was drafted by the MLS's Montreal Impact, but due to some early season misfortune, they barely missed out on the NCAA tournament. They return a great roster filled with experience from last season, including C. Nortey, the Big East's leading returning goal scorer and a member of the Big East's Preseason All-Conference team. The men's team, guided by Louis "The Dissident" Bennett, gets their season started tomorrow night in the first half of that aforementioned doubleheader, as they take on UW-Milwaukee at 6:30pm. The first 500 people in attendance will get one of these snazzy Tshirts. Gates open at 5:30!
For those of you who still have John Belushi posters to hang up in your room and won't be able to make it down to the Valley, you can make the much shorter trip to the Al McGuire Center to see the women's volleyball team open their season against Bowling Green at 7pm. As is the case with soccer, your Marquette ID gets you in the door for free. Women's volleyball is DEFINITELY coming off their most successful season in program history, as they not only qualified for the NCAA tournament for the first time, but they also picked up their first NCAA tournament victory in program history when they defeated Western Kentucky 3-1. Things are looking good for the volleyball team this year as well. They were picked to finish second in the Big East, and seniors Danielle Carlson and Holly Mertens were both named to the preseason all-conference team. These are the kinds of things you can expect from a squad led by Bond Shymansky, the NCAA's 25th all time winningest coach.
That wraps up the fall sports portion of our discussion and brings us to women's basketball. First, the bad news. Last year, the women's hoops team did not qualify for postseason play. The good news is that was the first time in nine years that Terri Mitchell did not land her team in the postseason and Marquette is losing no players from that squad, as there were no seniors last season. In fact, Milwaukee native Sarina Simmons is the only senior on this coming season's squad, so while there still might be some growing pains this coming season, Coach Mitchell is building a strong base going forward. To be honest with you, the only thing that kept MU out of the postseason last year in my opinion was late season injuries to rising sophomores Apiew Ojulu and Chelsie Butler, which left Marquette thin at defending the post.
We have two more teams to talk about, but sadly, I can't really provide you with much information on either one. The only reason for that is because neither one has yet to play an NCAA sanctioned game! Starting this spring, Marquette adds men's and women's lacrosse to its stable of Division 1 competitors. Both teams have had players on campus for a year now as they all were redshirting last season to help the teams get ready for Division 1 competition this school year. The men's team is coached by Hofstra graduate and former Hofstra assistant Joe Amplo. In his time at Hofstra, Coach Amplo went from unrecruited walk on to being part of the America East all-conference team in 1999, so it's safe to say that he has a great understanding of how to motivate team captain Andrew Smistad and the rest of the squad.
As for the women's squad, they're coached by Meredith Black. Coach Black played at Notre Dame, where she led the Irish to their first two NCAA tournament appearances in school history and was the first player in school history to be nominated for the Tewaaraton Award, given annually to the nation's best lacrosse player. Prior to taking the job at MU, she was an assistant at Towson, Notre Dame, and California, where she helped lead her squads to four NCAA tournament appearances and two conference championships. Coach Black has started her recruiting off on the right foot by signing Meredith Abrahamson, a 2012 Under Armour All-American and ESPN's 86th best player in the country, to start at MU this fall.
Based on when the lacrosse schedules for the other Big East schools started up last spring, I'd have to imagine that we'll know Marquette's schedules for this coming spring by the time that the basketball season starts! Keep your eyes on GoMarquette.com and right here at AE for the latest information!