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Marquette Women's Lacrosse Preview: vs #5 Northwestern

The Golden Eagles celebrate National Marquette Day by hosting the nationally ranked Wildcats down at Valley Fields.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Marquette women's lacrosse has had an interesting start to their season.  They're 0-2 heading into tomorrow's home opener, but the two losses could not be more different.

In the lidlifter, MU lost to #17 Johns Hopkins in a double overtime thriller.  Then, last weekend, the Golden Eagles got blown out in the second half against Colorado after All-American defender Elizabeth Goslee was ejected for a highly dubious second yellow card late in the first half.

Now they head to the Valley tomorrow afternoon to host a Northwestern team that bombed them out of Illinois in last year's meeting.  So which Golden Eagles will we get to see on National Marquette Day?  If the team that gave Johns Hopkins fits shows up, it could be a competitive game to watch.  If they struggle on defense even with Goslee back in the lineup for 60 minutes, it could be a long, long afternoon in the January cold.

Claire Costanza leads Marquette in scoring this season with three goals and an assist, while Nicole Gleason's three goals have her right behind Costanza in the points race.  The Golden Eagles have gotten two helpers from sophomore Amanda Bochniak, but she left the Colorado game with over six minutes to play and did not return.  I can't confirm her status with the Marquette athletic department, but I suspect that MU will have to look elsewhere to generate some passing offense against Northwestern.

Game #3: vs #5 Northwestern (2-1)

When: Saturday, February 21, 2015, at noon Central
Where: Valley Fields
Audio/Visual: The East end of the Valley isn't rigged for video, so only live stats.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWLax

This will be the second time in program history that Marquette has taken on the challenge of the national powerhouse known as the Northwestern Wildcats.  The two squared up last season, and Northwestern came away with a 20-5 victory.  The Wildcats scored the first seven goals of the game in just slightly less than 11 minutes, and that was really about it for the game being competitive.  The game would be 12-2 favoring NU at the half, but the promising news coming out of that was that Marquette goalie Sarah Priem made 10 saves in the first half to stop things from being even worse.

Northwestern has scuffled a little bit out of the gate in 2015.  They had to go to overtime to beat USC out in California in their season opener, and then eked out a 6-5 win against #7 Virginia in a neutral site game on a free position goal from Sheila Nesselbush with three minutes left.  Then, just last night, they lost their home opener to #8 Duke by a score of 15-9.  The Wildcats trailed 9-7 at the half, and they did cut it to 9-8 after almost eight minutes of the second half had ticked by.  Then the Blue Devils poured in five goals in nine minutes, and that was over.

Selena Lasota has five of NU's goals against Duke, and not surprisingly, she's leading the team in goals and points.  She has 11 goals on the season, nearly twice as many goals as Kaleigh Craig, who has six.  Strangely, Northwestern has only three assists on the season, and Lasota has two of them.  Bridget Bianco, the older sister of Marquette redshirt freshman defender Megan Bianco, has played all but 90 seconds in net for the Wildcats this season.  She's got a goals against average of 9.75 through three games, and she's only stopping 40% of shots on net.

Amazingly, a program with the history of Northwestern wasn't picked to win the Big Ten in its first year of existence.  That's because they drew the unlucky straw of creating a women's lacrosse conference because Maryland was joining the Big Ten for all sports.  The Terrapins are the defending national champions, so you can see how Northwestern slid down the pike a bit for them.