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Marquette Women’s Lacrosse Preview: at #9 Colorado Buffaloes

The Golden Eagles veer back into serious test territory with this trip to Boulder.

NCAA Football: Alamo Bowl-Oklahoma State vs Colorado
Sup, Ralphie.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

After getting their first two wins of the season over the last two games, Marquette swing back into a difficult section of their schedule on Sunday afternoon. It’ll be an interesting snapshot of where the Golden Eagles are after posting a program record for goals against Kennesaw State on Tuesday.

Marquette had to fight off a rough first half against Central Michigan and fend off a late Chippewas rally to get win #1 on the season, and then they ran through KSU easily for win #2. Before that, MU was neck and neck with ranked Louisville and ranked Johns Hopkins at Valley Fields, but they got smacked on the road by ranked Notre Dame in between those two games.

Now they’re out in Colorado, a mile up in the air, trying to battle with a Colorado team that’s surged into the top 10 in the country with five straight wins to open the season. Did the offense and defense get on track in the two wins? Did Marquette learn some serious lessons from their near misses against Louisville and Hopkins? Can MU survive the Colorado avalanche of offense to swipe the program’s first win over a ranked foe? There’s a lot of questions to be answered.

Grace Gabriel and Julianna Shearer are averaging at least two goals a game, and Gabriel is up to three points per game this season. Amanda Bochinak is running hot right now, posting back to back four point games in MU’s two victories. The key to victory for Marquette may be getting Allison Lane going. The junior midfielder is doing just fine so far, with nine goals and two assists on the season. However, her size (Lane is six feet tall and you can’t teach that) is something that you don’t necessarily see a whole lot in women’s lacrosse and a big game from the New Jersey native may be just what the doctor ordered for the Golden Eagles.

Game #6: at #9 Colorado Buffaloes (5-0)

When: Sunday, March 5, 2017, at 2pm Central
Where: Kittredge Fields in Boulder, CO
Audio/Visual: has a video stream available which may or may not be free. Live stats will be free and should be here.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWLax

Marquette is 0-2 against Colorado all time, with both losses coming in the past two seasons. MU lost 13-5 in the first ever meeting, which was in Boulder, and then suffered a 10-8 defeat at Valley Fields last year.

So the Buffs are pretty good, huh?

They opened up 2017 with a home overtime win over national power Northwestern, which held the #9 ranking at the time. They followed that up with a neutral site win over at-the-time #16 UMass, and then smashed Stetson and UC Davis in their next two. In their most recent game, they issued a 14-3 #BEATEMDOWN on Friday to new Big East member Denver...... who is currently ranked #14 in the country.

This might not go well for Marquette!

Colorado’s offense is powered by two seniors and a junior. Johnna Fusco has given Marquette fits in their first two meetings, racking up four goals in each game. She’s leading the Buffs on the stat sheet in goals (15), assists (5), and points (20). Fusco shares the assists lead with junior Darby Kiernan, who also has 13 goals on the year. Katie Macleay is averaging more than two goals a game at 11 total on the seaosn, and she also has three assists. The CU offense is pretty deep, with 14 different players scoring at least one goal and 16 players recording at least one point.

Colorado is pouring in the goals, but it’s because they put shots on goal and they’ve been going in. They barely have a ground ball advantage over their opponents (less than 1.5 more per game), and CU is turning the ball over almost as much as their opponents (1.6 fewer per game). If Marquette can control those two aspects of the game and limit Colorado’s shots, then they might be able to keep it close and steal one at the end.

Paige Soenksen has played all but 30 minutes for head coach Ann Elliott, and she’s the goalie that Marquette has faced each of the past two seasons. She’s stopping 62% of shots on goal, which is incredibly great and may not be sustainable long term. CU’s defense is only allowing 5.76 goals per 60 minutes in front of Soenksen, and I don’t think Marquette can win a low scoring game against the Buffs.