Weekend Preview: Big East Games That Aren't Really Big East Games

Goalie Sarah Priem and MU are looking to snap a four game losing streak. - Maggie Casey/MarquetteImages.com

No, seriously, that headline's going to make sense in a second.

Both men's and women's lacrosse teams are in their first seasons of competition, and as such, they're playing this season as an independent. But they will be joining the Big East next season, and as such, the women's lacrosse team is playing a full conference schedule as if they were already in the Big East. They're playing every team, evenly split between home and road, but the games will not count towards conference standings. Make sense? Ok.

First up on the Big East end of the women's lacrosse schedule is Villanova. That one starts this evening at 5pm down at Valley Fields. If you've been looking for a chance to learn about lacrosse, well, this is the game for you. It's Lacrosse 101 Night, which includes "interactive stations, activity sheets, and in-game promotions" to help all of us figure out why the heck the referees are blowing the whistle every 75 seconds.

I'm looking at the NCAA's statistics website and I'm seeing some good news for Marquette: Claire Costanza is 30th in the country in assists/game, goalie Sarah Priem is in the top 45 in ground balls per game and top 30 in saves per game, and the team is in the top 45 in both caused turnovers and ground balls. Unfortuately, the NCAA only updates once a week, and these were last updated back on Sunday. I'm going to guess that the 18-4 pounding from Harvard might shift those stats a bit.

Turning our attention to Villanova, the Wildcats are 4-3 on the season and have won three straight coming in to this one. In a strange coincidence, their most recent win was against Davidson. Go figure, huh?

Sophomore attacker Jessica Mucci is going to have to be the focal point for the Marquette defense. She's leading Villanova in points, but a heavy majority of her points have come from assists. Mucci has 31 points on the season, 12 more than any other Wildcat, with 24 assists. That's nearly half of the VU assists coming off of one stick. Cutting off Mucci's passing would put a serious dent in the Wildcats' offense. Sophomore attacker Jackie Froccaro leads Villanova in goals with 15, with senior attacker Maria Bowman close behind her at 12 goals. Senior goalie Amanda Hirschfield has started VU's last six games and has posted a goals-against average of 8.39 while only having to stop 49.5% of the shots that her opponents are firing.

Moving along to Sunday, Marquette will play host to Rutgers at noon. It's Kids Club Day, so all kids with their membership cards will get in for free. The Scarlet Knights are 7-1 on the season, with only a slip up on the road against Temple marring their record. Remember than explanation of how these aren't actually Big East games up at the start of this post? Rutgers didn't get the memo.

The Scarlet Knights have three double digit goal scorers already this season, led by junior midfielder Katrina Martinelli's 22 goals. Martinelli is tied with redshirt junior Amanda Trendell for the team lead in assists at six. Rutgers has only 24 assists on the season to go with 76 goals, so Marquette will have to watch out for individual playmakers instead of the great passing that they'll see from Villanova. Senior goalie Lily Kalata has played all but one half so far this season for the Knights. She has a goals-against average of just 6.27 while stopping exactly half the shots on goal that she sees.

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