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Marquette Women's Lacrosse Weekend Preview: vs California & vs Colorado

The Golden Eagles kick off the home end of the 2016 schedule with two games this weekend.

Cal, your mascot is weird.
Cal, your mascot is weird.
Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

The start of the 2016 season has kind of sucked for Marquette's women's lacrosse squad.

There's nothing really wrong with losing 14-6 to #16 Louisville.  Losing 11-8 to #17 Johns Hopkins isn't bad either, especially when you take into account that MU arrived in Baltimore five hours before the first draw.  However, Marquette actually led the Blue Jays 6-4 with 27 minutes to play before letting the game slip away from them.  That trend of things slipping away continued last Sunday when the Golden Eagles were tied 7-7 with Michigan with 17 minutes to play, but ended up taking an 11-8 loss by the final horn.

Like I said: kind of sucked.  Not actually sucked, just kinda.

There is something to be encouraged about from the Michigan game.  We learned right before the season started that Claire Costanza, MU's all time points and assists leader, will miss the 2016 season with an injury.  Through the first two games of the season, Marquette managed only three assists.  Costanza has averaged 1.35 assists per game during her 51 game career, and she's the only Golden Eagle to record more than 23 assists...... ever.  While losing Costanza's 60 goals was a big blow, losing her assists was a much bigger deal, and to see three assists in two games, well, that didn't bode well, y'know?  That's why it was so great to see Marquette get five assists on eight goals against the Wolverines.  Maybe it was just a case of taking what the defense was giving them, but it's a sign of the offense moving in the right direction without Costanza.

Game #4: vs California (0-1)

When: Friday, February 26, 2016, at 5pm Central
Where: Valley Fields
Audio/Visual: Live stats, since the middle field at the Valley isn't rigged for video.
Special Promotions: Faculty & staff get in for free! Plus: first 50 students in attendance get a free pair of MU sweatpants!
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWLax

Coming off of a 3-13 season, the Golden Bears were picked to finish seventh in the ten team Mountain Pacific Sports Federation this year.  What's that, you say?  "Wait, isn't Cal in the Pac12?"  Why yes, they are, but for some reason, the conference doesn't sponsor women's lacrosse.  So, that's where the MPSF comes in to play, allowing teams out on the west coast to partner up in order to have a conference where there aren't enough teams in their primary conference.  This might not be long for this world, though, as five of the MPSF teams are from the Pac12, so they really only need one more school to jump into the pool.

Anyway, they kicked off their season last Friday with a 16-15 overtime loss to #16 Ohio State.  The Bears trailed 13-7 with just under 18 minutes to play, but scored twice in the final three minutes to tie the game at 15.  The extra session did not last long as the Buckeyes rifled home the winner 30 seconds into the first possession, but that was one hell of a rally to tie the game up.

California was somewhat of a young team last season.  They're returning six of their 11 double digit point scorers from last season, and none of the six are seniors.  Bella Huther led a Bears offense that scored 9.6 goals a game last year, and she's back for her junior year this season.  Huther topped the box score with five goals against Ohio State last week.  The Bears had 65 assists on 153 goals last year, but their passing was way up against the Buckeyes, recording eight helpers in the game.

California used two goalies about evenly last year, but only one of them - Helen Hansen - is back this season.  Head coach Brooke Eubanks must not have been very thrilled with that option, because she went with freshman Jenny Wilkens against Ohio State instead of her returning senior goalie.  Wilkens made 11 saves against Ohio State, including seven in the second half to help force the tie at the end of regulation.  Even though she only stopped 41% of the shots on goal, Wilkens was named MPSF Rookie of the Week.

Game #5: vs Colorado (2-0, 2-0 MPSF)

When: Sunday, February 28, 2016, at 1pm Central
Where: Valley Fields
Audio/Visual: Live stats, since the middle field at the Valley isn't rigged for video.
Special Promotions: Wear a lacrosse jersey to the game and get in for $2!  Plus: the first 50 students in attendance get a MU fleece blanket!
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWLax

First things first, scroll yourself back up the page and go read about the MPSF, because Colorado's part of that goofy conglomerate.  In fact, they're actually 2-0 already in MPSF competition, as they started out the season with two conference games for some insane reason.  The Buffs edged out Denver, 11-10, in their first game of the year, and then they tore through Fresno State, 18-4, in their most recent game.

The Denver game featured Colorado jumping out to a 4-0 start, including the earliest hat trick in the program's three season history, and they led 9-6 at the half.  Denver ended up cutting the score to the final margin with less than a minute to play, but the Buffaloes forced a turnover to run the clock out and win.  Against Fresno State, Colorado decided that their problem was letting off the gas too early, as they scored eight goals in the first 12 minutes and were up 12-2 at halftime.

As a result of all of those goals so far this season, Colorado, picked to finish fourth in the MPSF this season, have nine players who have found the back of the net this season.  CU is led by sophomore Darby Kiernan, who has seven goals and an assist already this year.  Junior Cali Castagnola matches Kiernan in points, but she's doing it with six goals and two assists.

Junior Paige Soenksen is back in goal again this year for the Buffaloes, just like she was last year when Marquette lost 13-5 out in Boulder.  She's stopping 46% of the shots on net so far this season, averaging six saves per game.