Marquette struck first down in Louisville on Saturday afternoon, but the #16 ranked Cardinals' offense was too much for MU to handle. The Golden Eagles eventually lost their 2016 season opener to Louisville by a final score of 16-4. It's a bit of a historic landmark for Marquette, as this marked the 15th straight loss to a ranked team in program history, matched against zero wins.
Hayley Baas began the 2016 season by advancing her program record for career goals as she beat UL goalie Brittany Read at the 27:11 mark of the first half with a free position strike. It would take nearly 14 minutes for Marquette to score again, and after freshman Lindsay Willcocks tallied her first career goal, MU was down 4-2. That would be MU's last goal of the first half, leaving them trailing 7-2 at halftime, and even though Grace Gabriel got her first career college marker to break the ice on the second half, it was pretty much all over for MU at halftime.
The reason that it was pretty much over isn't because Louisville was obliterating Marquette on the scoreboard. In fact, Marquette's offense was running the show in the game, outshooting the Cardinals 14-11 and even holding a 10-8 advantage on shots on goal. Read was the defining force of the first half, tallying eight saves in the first 30 minutes to wipe out Marquette's chances of keeping the game close, while Marquette goalie Sarah Priem struggled to stop Louisville's shots, making just one save.
MU's offense got a bit of a jump start at the start of the second half with Gabriel scoring on the team's second shot of the period and Julianna Shearer getting on the board for 2016 on the third shot. That made the score 8-4 with 26:50 to play, but things turned quickly. Julia Wood capped off the second of three Louisville hat tricks just after the 20 minute mark, and then Jillian Balog scored twice to finish the third Cardinal hat trick about a minute apart to make it 11-4 with 16:49 to play. If it wasn't over after Read snuffed out the offense in the first half, it was definitely over now. Allison Lane and Baas tacked on two goals in the final two minutes to make the final margin look slightly more respectable than it actually was.
Marquette's biggest issue in the game (other than, y'know, the goals) came down to ball control. Louisville had a marked advantage on draw controls, outdueling Marquette 17-5, including a 9-1 advantage in the first half. Given that MU ended up with a shooting advantage in the first frame, that's actually a pretty good defensive effort when UL just kept ending up with the ball after they scored. It is mildly surprising that UL's Kaylin Morissette ended up with 12 draw controls in the game, if for no other reason that limiting Morissette's effectiveness on the draw had to be a major item on the Marquette scouting report. After all, Morissette is UL's all time leader in draw controls and she ranked second in the country in that category a year ago.
Up Next: Things aren't getting much easier for Marquette. With one loss to a ranked team already behind them, Marquette will head to Baltimore to face another ranked team next week. They'll be facing #17 Johns Hopkins in the season opener for the Blue Jays this coming Saturday with the opening draw scheduled for 11am Central. While facing another ranked team might be a stern opening to the season, MU did go to double overtime with JHU to open the 2015 season before eventually falling.