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Marquette Women's Lacrosse Preview: vs #18 Notre Dame

The Golden Eagles continue their hunt for the first win over a ranked team in program history this evening at Valley Fields

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Last weekend didn't go as well as Marquette women's lacrosse had hoped.  They had a chance to have a winning record during a season for the first time in program history if they came away with two wins over two teams that they had never lost to before.  Sunday's contest with Detroit went okay, as Marquette earned their third straight win over the Titans.  Friday's game against Michigan, though..... that didn't go according to the script.  The Golden Eagles had a lead at halftime, but Michigan denied MU a goal for all but the final six seconds as the Wolverines rallied to even the all time series at a game apiece.

So, Marquette heads to Wednesday afternoon's contest with Notre Dame with a record of 4-5 on the season.  It'll be the final non-conference game of the season, as nothing but Big East matches awaits your Golden Eagles after this afternoon.  With the Irish carrying that national ranking into the game, it seems unlikely that Marquette will head to conference play at .500 on the season.  It would be quite the achievement to topple the Irish, as it would be the first win over a ranked opponent in program history.  Marquette has been close to notching that win this season, including their double overtime loss to Johns Hopkins and a 13-6 loss to Northwestern where they played the Wildcats even except for a nine minute run to start the second half.

Game #10: vs #18 Notre Dame (5-4, 1-2 ACC)

When: Wednesday, March 25, 2015, at 4pm Central
Where: Valley Fields
Audio/Visual: No video hookup on the East field, but there is live stats.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWLax

Then again, that record doesn't exactly paint the full picture of Notre Dame's season.  Here's their four losses this season:

  • 12-10 at #19 Stanford
  • 17-3 at #5 Duke
  • 15-6 at #4 Boston College
  • 9-5 at #18 Stony Brook

All road losses, all against ranked opponents.  In their five wins this season, Notre Dame has an average margin of victory of just slightly over nine goals, including a 17-5 ripping of that self same Detroit team that Marquette ran past on Sunday.  In any case, ND comes into this afternoon's game on a two match winning streak, defeating Virginia Tech and Ohio State, both at home.

Notre Dame was picked to finish sixth in the ACC this year, even though they started the season ranked #10 in the country.  As you can guess from that list of losses, the ACC's kind of stacked this season.  At the start of the year, the ACC had seven teams ranked in the top 13 of the national preseason polls., and there's only eight teams in the league.  In the most recent edition of the media voted Top 20, they've got seven in the top 20 with the Irish sitting as the last of them.  There are four ACC teams in the top six in the country, and it took me a second to realize that number was that low because new Big Ten team Maryland is ranked #1 in the country.

Cortney Fortunato had three points on two goals and an assist against Marquette last year.  This year, the sophomore has a team high 27 goals and a team high 35 points.  Fellow sophomore Casey Pearsall has a helping hand for the offense, totaling a team high nine assists so far this season.  Notre Dame's not a particularly pass happy team, as they've scored 100 goals this season and have only notched 41 assists on those goals.  It's not an offense that relies on free position shots, though, as they've only scored 32 of those this season.

Liz O'Sullivan might be the most Notre Dame goaltender ever by name alone.  She's a sophomore too, and she's played all but half an hour of the Irish season, and her stats are largely supported by the defense around her.  O'Sullivan has a goals-against average of 8.82, which is good, but she's only managing to stop 36% of shots that opposing offenses aim on cage.