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Marquette Women’s Lacrosse Preview: at Connecticut Huskies

The Golden Eagles start their quest to reach the Big East tournament with a visit to Storrs.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Colorado vs Connecticut Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

So here’s the deal.

Marquette women’s lacrosse is sitting in sixth place in the Big East at 2-3. With a 10 team league, we’re past the midway point and there’s only four regular season games left. Only four teams make the Big East tournament, and right now, there’s a three-way tie for second place behind undefeated Florida at 4-1.

You can see the position that Marquette is in, even without worrying about fifth place Vanderbilt at 3-2.

The good news, such as it is, goes something like this: All of Marquette’s remaining games are winnable. The bad news is that they probably need to win all four of them to get to the conference tournament for the first time ever. Connecticut is currently behind Marquette in the standings, as is Butler, so MU will need wins against those teams to keep them back there. The other two contests are against Georgetown, one of the teams in the second play tie, and Vanderbilt which, as mentioned above, currently sits one spot in front of the Golden Eagles in the standings.

The other thing working against Marquette is their losses to three of the teams already in front of them. Last season, MU ended up missing the Big East tournament due to coming in third in a three-way tie for third place. Thanks to tiebreakers, Marquette was officially in fifth place and out of the conference tournament. With losses to Denver and Temple on the record, MU is already at risk to lose tiebreakers to them and will need wins to avoid that from happening.

The quest for those wins starts on Wednesday on their visit to Storrs.

Julianna Shearer Watch: The senior from Maryland can now lay claim to being the best goal scorer in Marquette history. Every goal she scores the rest of the season will advance her record for most goals in a career, and thanks to her second of four goals against Denver last time out, she broke her own program record for goals in a season. Her next goal will make her MU’s first ever 40 goal scorer, and she’s got a shot at hitting 50 this season, too.

Fran Meyer Watch: The senior from Illinois is getting close to hitting a milestone. With 28 ground balls on the season, Meyer now has 98 in her career and needs just two more to become the third Golden Eagle to record 100 ground balls in a career, along with Elizabeth Goslee (106) and Sarah Priem (157). Meyer has also added on 25 caused turnovers to her career total to move to 85 in her career, three short of Goslee’s career record of 88. She’s also five away from tying Goslee’s record for caused turnovers in a season at 30 as well.

Grace Gabriel Watch: Only three women have ever scored 30 goals in a season for Marquette: Allison Lane, Julianna Shearer, and now Grace Gabriel. She scored twice against Denver to get to 33 on the season and is now tied Lane in 2016 for the third most in program history. Gabriel fired off six shots against Denver to hit 80 on the season and become the first ever Golden Eagle to reach that number in a season.

Big East Game #6: at Connecticut Huskies (4-8, 1-4 Big East)

When: Wednesday, April 12, 2017, at 11am Central
Where: Sherman Family Sports Complex in Storrs, CT
Audio/Visual: Connecticut will make you pay for a video stream because they hate America, but live stats are free.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWLax

Marquette is 0-4 all time against Connecticut. The Huskies pulled off a come from behind victory in Milwaukee last season in the most recent encounter.

Connecticut’s record this season in Big East play is a matter of circumstance more than anything. The league office started them off with league favorite Florida, and each of their next three games came against three teams that currently find themselves in the top half of the conference standings. Last weekend, they finally caught a break with their game against first year program Butler, and they wrapped up their first league win by a margin of 17-4.

While they’re under .500 for the season as a result of having to slog their way through the top half of the league in their first four games, Connecticut might be able to give Marquette trouble on Wednesday. They have one non-conference foe in common with the Golden Eagles in the form of California. Marquette suffered an 18-11 loss to the Golden Bears out in Berkeley, while the Huskies came away from their road trip to Northern California with a 17-8 victory.

Three of the nine best goal scorers in the league will be on the field on Wednesday as UConn’s Grace Nolan (T-6) will be attempting to match the firepower of MU’s Julianna Shearer (T-2) and Grace Gabriel (T-8). The difference between them comes down to how Nolan activates the rest of her offense, as she also ranks sixth in the Big East in assists per game as well. As a whole, Connecticut does like to use the pass to get their offense in position to score, as they have assists on exactly half of their goals this season.

Freshman Grace Beshlian has played every minute of the season in net for head coach Katie Woods, and there’s no reason to think that will change here. She’s stopping 45% of shots on goal while allowing 12.70 goals per 60 minutes.