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Marquette Women’s Lacrosse Preview: vs Louisville Cardinals

IT’S THE START OF THE 2017 SEASON! WOOOOOOOOOOOO

NCAA Football: Music City Bowl-Texas A&M vs Louisville
#BirdsWithTeeth
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

It’s the beginning of a new era for Marquette women’s lacrosse in a number of ways.

The most obvious thing that you’ll see today from MU is that this game will be played in the brand new inflated bubble facility on the middle section of Valley Fields. It’s heated (at least warmer than outside), and it allows the athletic department to do things like schedule a home game on the 10th of February without any worry about the weather throwing a wrench into things. It also allows head coach Meredith Black and her squad to have full field indoor practices to get ready for the season. Whether that makes those practices more effective than in seasons past remains to be seen, but it can’t hurt things to be able to practice and scheme in relative comfort as opposed to the 20 degree temperatures and wind that we’ve had the last few days.

The other part of the new era is dealing with the loss of the first four year players in team history. Hayley Baas, Sarah Priem, Kayce Haverstick, Elizabeth Goslee, all four year standouts for Black, all now gone as Marquette moves into their fifth year of competition.

While their departures will be felt on the field, Marquette is more than ready to attack the season, and I do mean attack. Julianna Shearer and Allison Lane were MU’s two best scorers last season, with both women surpassing the previous best goals total by a Golden Eagle. Both Lane and Shearer were named to the preseason all-Big East squad, and Marquette will be able to lean on them this year. They also have the return of Claire Costanza, MU’s all-time leading scorer, who missed the 2016 season due to injury. All indications are that she’s 100% healed and ready to contribute, and that will only make Marquette’s offense even more effective than it was last year.

On defense, Fran Meyer and Alex Gambacorta will be the stalwarts that Black will be building around in 2017. There are questions about what will be going on around those two, but the question about what’s behind them is the biggest item that has to be figured out this year. Sarah Priem has been Marquette’s #1 goalie for all of her four years on campus, but she’s gone now. Someone will have to replace her, and Black’s options are not particularly strong. There’s junior Molly Grozier, who has played just 16 minutes in two seasons for Marquette, and freshman Jules Horning is a freshman with a fairly accomplished prep career. Marquette’s game notes list Grozier as the projected starter, but I still wouldn’t be surprised to see Horning get the nod.

Game #1: vs Louisville Cardinals (1-0)

When: Friday, February 10, 2017, at 3pm Central
Where: The Valley Fields Bubble
Audio/Visual: GoMarquette.com has the free live video stream & there’s live stats.
Special Promotions: 1st 150 fans get a MU Lacrosse winter hat & MU faculty and staff get in for FREE w/$2 admission for their family members.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWLax

Marquette is 0-3 all time against Louisville. The two teams met in each of Marquette’s first three seasons of action before skipping over last season. The Cardinals have outscored MU in those three meetings by a total of 47-13.

The Cardinals started out the season with a #18 ranking in the IWLCA coaches poll and barely missing the top 20 in the Inside Lacrosse/Cascade media poll. They went out in their season opener last Saturday and picked up a dominant 19-8 win over Vermont. Well, it was dominant by the final horn, at least. Vermont led 4-2 after scoring four straight early in the first half, and the Catamounts clapped back in the second half to cut Louisville’s leads to 9-7 and 11-8, with the last one coming with just under 12 minutes left.

Vermont probably really hates McKayla Conti right now, as the sophomore from New Jersey scored a game high six goals, including her final three with less than four minutes to play. All told, four Cardinals scored hat tricks against UVM, with Meghan Siverson getting all the way up to five goals. Ashley Lynch recorded five points in the game for UL, with one second half goal and four assists.

Louisville was picked to finish seventh out of eight teams in the ACC this season, but as you can tell from their preseason national rankings, that’s not exactly some kind of mark of shame. Senior defender Stephanie McNamara was the lone UL rep on the ACC’s preseason all conference team. She’s been a three year starter for the Cardinals defense and last year was the anchor of a squad that held 12 of 18 opponents to fewer than 10 goals. That included each of UL’s first seven games, as well as three opponents that were ranked at the time.