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Big East Women's Lacrosse: Where Are We Now?

Marquette starts their conference slate on Saturday, so let's swing around and see what everyone's been up to this season so far.

Florida's Shannon Gilroy is the best scorer in the Big East this season.
Florida's Shannon Gilroy is the best scorer in the Big East this season.
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

This is going to count as our preview post for Marquette's Big East opener against Villanova, so let's cover the particulars for that contest.

When: Saturday, March 28, 2015, at 12pm
Where: Valley Fields
Audio/Visual: No video hookup on the East field, but there is live stats.
Twitter Updates @MarquetteWLax

We'll take a capsule look at where each Big East team is at this point in the women's lacrosse schedule, and yes, that includes newcomers Florida and Vanderbilt.  Next to the team name is their current record and their RPI ranking according to LaxPower.com.  Points, goals, and assists leaders are all self explanatory, as is most team's listing for their best goalie this season.  We'll deal with Vanderbilt when we get there.  Last, you'll see a Best Win/Worst Loss for each squad, and that's determined by the LaxPower RPI ranking as well.  A reminder, though: There's only 107 schools that play Division 1 lacrosse, so being ranked #54 means you're in the bottom half.

Cincinnati (2-7, #90)

Points Leader: Courtney Curtis, 26
Goals Leader: Courtney Curtis, 25
Assists Leader: Sarah Del Bene, 5
Top Goalie: Meg Gulmi; 14.53 GAA, .390 SV%
Best Win: vs #97 Stetson, 11-10 (OT)
Worst Loss: vs #85 Niagara, 12-9

The Bearcats actually have one more game before Saturday's Marquette-Villanova game, but I'm not postponing this article just so we can have a full view of the Cincinnati season with a Friday night game against Winthrop inside the frame.

Cincinnati's two wins this season have come against the two worst teams they've played: Stetson and Presbyterian, and both of those games were played in Cincinnati.  That's not particularly surprising, as the Bearcats were picked to finish last in the Big East this season.  We do have to give them credit for starting their schedule off with a bit of difficulty, as they tangled with Notre Dame and Louisville in their first two contests, and both of those squads are ranked ACC powers.

Curtis ranks fourth in the Big East in goals per game and seventh in points per game.  That's a pretty good anchor for their offense, but UC ranks 6th in the eight team Big East in goals per game.  Their defense is a real problem, as they commit the second most fouls in the league and have the second lowest save percentage, too.

Connecticut (5-4, #20)

Points Leader: Katherine Finkelston, 27
Goals Leader: Katherine Finkelston, 19
Assists Leader: Jacqueline Jordan, 10
Top Goalie: Shannon Nee; 9.17 GAA, .487 SV%
Best Win: at #51 Fairfield, 6-4
Worst Loss: at #16 Massachusetts, 7-6 (OT)

As befitting a team with a 5-4 record, UConn has been all over the place with their results this season.  They did have a three game winning streak in the middle of things, but that was snapped by a 13-5 loss to Boston College, which is now ranked #2 in the country.  In fact, three of the four teams that have defeated the Huskies this year are currently ranked in the top 20 in the country, and the fourth, Massachusetts, is carrying around a top 20 RPI.  Can't really fault them for scheduling tough and not coming away with wins, I guess.

Finkelston ranks 8th in the Big East in goals and 9th in assists, but sixth in points, which makes her one of the more dangerous overall offensive players in the league.  Nee is neck and neck with Marquette's Sarah Priem for the best goals-against average in the Big East, and she easily has the best save percentage in the conference, too.

Florida (7-4, 1-0 Big East, #11)

Inside Lacrosse Top 20 Ranking: #10
Points Leader: Shannon Gilroy, 52
Goals Leader: Shannon Gilroy, 39
Assists Leader: Shannon Gilroy, 13
Top Goalie: Mary-Sean Wilcox; 10.11 GAA, .395 SV%
Best Win: vs #24 Loyola (MD), 11-8
Worst Loss: vs #8 Syracuse, 14-13 (OT)

7-4 doesn't seem like a great record for a team that's ranked #10 in the country, but it makes sense.  Their losses are to the teams that are currently ranked 1, 3, 6, and 8 in the country.  Granted, that makes their postseason outlook kind of dim, especially since their lone win over a ranked opponent is against a 6-4 Loyola team that's ranked #19, but it still makes the Gators a particularly tough team.

While Gilroy is the obvious dominant force on the team and the heavy front runner for the Big East's Offensive Player Of The Year, she's not alone out there.  Six more Gators are averaging at least a goal per game, including Mollie Stevens, who's averaging over 2 per game and ranks 7th in the Big East.  Defense might be a problem for Florida, as they rank second to last in the Big East in caused turnovers per game.  However, it's been ranked teams that have caused them problems when it comes to giving up double digit goals in games, as that explains four of the six times when they've done that this season.

Georgetown (1-7, #53)

Points Leader: Kristin Bandos and Caroline Tarzian, 13
Goals Leader: Kristin Bandos, 12
Assists Leader: Colleen Lovett and Sammy Giordano, 4
Top Goalie: Maddy Fisher; 12.50 GAA, .330 SV%
Only Win: vs #71 George Mason, 11-9
Worst Loss: vs #29 Towson, 13-10

Last in goals per game, last in points per game, last in caused turnovers per game, last in goals-against average, last in saves per game, last in save percentage.  That's just no good for the Hoyas.  They've lost five in a row at this point, which is also no good.

They might be better than their record or stats show you, though.  All of their losses have come against teams that are in the top 30 of the RPI.  In their most recent contest, they took an early 5-2 lead against #19 Loyola, and Tarzian tied the game at six early in the second half.  The Greyhounds outscored the Hoyas 6-2 for the rest of the game, though, and that was that.

Marquette (4-6, #57)

Points Leader: Claire Costanza, 37
Goals Leader: Claire Costanza, 16
Assists Leader: Claire Costanza, 21
Top Goalie: Sarah Priem; 9.16 GAA, .405 SV%
Best Win: at #64 Duquesne, 8-7 (OT)
Worst Loss: vs #44 Michigan, 10-7

We'll keep this short because if you're reading this site regularly, you're on top of your Golden Eagle lacrosse news.  But: Claire Costanza is the only player in the Big East averaging more than two assists per game, and as a result, she's the closest player in the league to trying to catch up to Florida's Shannon Gilroy in the points race.  Marquette has the best team goals-against average in the Big East to this point, averaging just slightly over nine goals per 60 minutes.

The Golden Eagles could cause some damage in the Big East this season.  They were competitive in the conference a year ago, but only came away with one win.  This year, the offense is more diverse, even with Amanda Bochniak injured, and the defense is playing better than it ever has in the program's first two years.

Temple (8-1, #42)

Points Leader: Nicole Tiernan, 26
Goals Leader: Nicole Tiernan, 26
Assists Leader: Rachel Schwaab, 8
Top Goalie: Jaqi Kakalecik; 9.25 GAA, .424 SV%
Best Win: at #27 Delaware, 11-6
Only Loss: vs #14 Cornell, 17-8

Yes, you read that right: Nicole Tiernan hasn't registered an assist this season but still leads the Owls in points this season by virtue of her team high 26 goals.

The Owls might be the opposite of Georgetown this season.  They've played just two top 50 RPI teams, and have gone 1-1 in those games.  With that said, one of them was their most recent game, when they went to Delaware and beat the Blue Hens, 11-6.  Delaware was ranked #19 in the country at the time, so it's possible that starting the season 7-1 built up enough momentum and positive energy with the team and they're actually good.

Tiernan is the third best goal scorer in the Big East this year, and Kakalecik is just a fraction of a goal behind the duo of Shannon Nee and Sarah Priem for the goals-against average title in the conference.  Temple was picked to finish fifth in the league this season, but if they've figured out how to beat ranked teams on the road...

Vanderbilt (3-7, 0-1 Big East, #31)

Points Leader: Mallory Schonk, 34
Goals Leader: Mallory Schonk, 22
Assists Leader: Jill Doherty, 14
Top Goalie: Therein lies a tale...
Best Win: vs #40 Boston University, 16-9
Worst Loss: vs #26 Denver, 13-9

We have to talk about two things in regard to the Commodores in their first season in the Big East.  First of all, they're on a seven game losing streak.  That sounds bad, but there is a qualifier: all seven games were against teams that were ranked at the time.  The last six opponents are all in the Top 20 right now, while the seventh, Denver, has slipped down to "only" receiving votes.

The other thing is their goaltending.  Sometimes, you look at a stat sheet and see one goalie with six starts and another with four starts and this is easily explainable.  The two most obvious options are either A) one goalie got hurt, or B) one goalie wasn't passing muster any more.  Neither of those seems to be the case with Vanderbilt.  Neither Callahan Kent nor Maddie Kratz has started more than three straight games this season.  Kent got the nod to start the season, but got yanked at halftime of a 16-9 win against Boston University while leading 11-5.  Kratz finished the game, and then started the next game.  It's been back and forth ever since, with head coach Cathy Swezy switching netminders midway through a loss on three different occasions.  Kratz played all 60 minutes of their 13-3 loss to #20 Johns Hopkins on Wednesday, so we'll see what happens going forward.

Villanova (5-4, #52)

Points Leader: Jackie Froccaro, 30
Goals Leader: Jackie Froccaro, 28
Assists Leader: Jessica Mucci, 17
Top Goalie: Jaclyn Fraum; 10.27 GAA, .458 SV%
Best Win: vs #27 Delaware, 11-9
Worst Loss: at #61 Rutgers, 10-7

After starting out 2-4, the Wildcats are on a hot streak heading into conference play.  They've picked up wins at Saint Joseph's, as well as at home against High Point and Lafayette.  They're battle tested, too.  Villanova had to rally from second half deficits to pull off both of those home wins, including going to a third overtime period with High Point in order to pull out the win.

Jessica Mucci is wrapping up her collegiate career in style.  The senior from Severna Park, Maryland, broke the Villanova all time assists record with her 85th career helper against Lafayette.  She needed four assists against the Leopards to get the record all to herself, and she got it on an insurance goal by Froccaro with 1:19 left in the game.  She's not finding the back of the net all that much this year with only eight goals, but she's still 10th in the Big East in points per game and second in assists per game.