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Marquette Women’s Lacrosse Preview: vs Butler Bulldogs

The Golden Eagles host their yearly Pan-Can game & pay tribute to their seniors.

NCAA Basketball: Xavier at Butler Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Well, here we are. Marquette women’s lacrosse still has two games left to play, but there’s officially nothing at stake for Meredith Black’s troops.

Their loss to Georgetown in their last game dropped the Golden Eagles to 2-5 in league play and ended up officially eliminating them from contention for one of the four Big East tournament berths. At 4-11 on the year, Marquette is officially too far down the rabbit hole to even hope for a .500 record in 2017 and even matching last year’s program best seven wins is off the table as well.

It’s kind of a bummer, to be honest, as Marquette appears to have made it through the season without losing one of their key offensive contributors for the year due to injury. As you could expect this has already been a record setting offensive year for the Golden Eagles, scoring 186 goals already, surpassing the record of 176 set last season. The problem has been exactly what was expected: The defense has not been able to match the offense. The 2017 defensive corps has allowed 226 goals, the first time that they’ve allowed more than 200 since the program’s first year of existence.

Now, some of this may be due to the first year of the 90 second shot clock in women’s lacrosse causing a slight uptick in pace of play and thus more goals overall. Not all of it, though. This is the kind of thing that happens when you lose a four year starter at goalie as well as two four year starters from your field defense as well. Those holes became just too big to fill this season.

Anyway.

Saturday evening will be Senior Night for the nine seniors on the roster: Devyn Antolini, Alina Atayan, Julianna Shearer, Meghan Wilson, Amanda Bochniak, Megan Bianco, Fran Meyer, Taylor Smith, and Claire Costanza. Actually, this will be the second straight Senior Night for Costanza, as she was honored last season when her return to the squad from injury for her fourth year of eligibility was still up in the air. I think it was kind of nice of the Big East to give the Golden Eagles a home game against a first year program for Senior Night. Hopefully MU can follow through on it and cash in the victory against the Bulldogs.

Julianna Shearer Watch: The senior from Maryland can now lay claim to being the best goal scorer in Marquette history. After netting three against Georgetown, Shearer has Marquette’s record for goals in a career (107), making her the first player in program history with 100 career goals, as well as the record for goals in a season with 47 thus far in 2017. She’s the first Golden Eagle to hit 40 goals in a season, and a hat trick against the Bulldogs will make her the first to 50 as well. Shearer is dueling with Grace Gabriel for the single season shots record, with Shearer’s 95 currently leading Gabriel’s 93. Both have surpassed the previous record of 74.

Fran Meyer Watch: The senior from Illinois is getting close to hitting a milestone. Two ground balls against Georgetown gave her 31 on the season and 101 in her career, making Meyer the third Golden Eagle to record 100 ground balls, along with Elizabeth Goslee (106) and Sarah Priem (157). Meyer has also added on 28 caused turnovers to her career total to tie Goslee’s career record of 88. She’s also two 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 once against Georgetown to get to 36 on the season, tying Shearer’s old single season record. Gabriel is dueling with Shearer for the single season shots record, with Shearer’s 95 currently leading Gabriel’s 93. Both have surpassed the previous record of 74.

Big East Game #8: vs Butler Bulldogs (1-14, 0-8 Big East)

When: Saturday, April 22, 2017, at 5pm Central
Where: Valley Fields
Audio/Visual: Live stats will be here.
Special Promotions: Show your ticket from the men’s game against Duke earlier in the day and get in for free. There will be a raffle to benefit the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network with the drawing coming at halftime. The first 100 fans in attendance get a Marquette Lacrosse sweatshirt. Wow, that was a lot. Oh, and it’s Senior Night!
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWLax

This is the first ever year of Division 1 competition for Butler, so of course, this is the first ever meeting between the two teams. The addition of the Bulldogs to the Big East means that Marquette is no longer the youngest program in the conference, so that’s pretty fun.

As you could probably expect for a first year program, Butler’s not particularly great. They defeated Gardner-Webb, 16-13, down in North Carolina, in early March for the first win in program history, and as of right now, it’s the only win in program history. They’ve dropped nine straight since then, including each of their first eight Big East games. Butler’s smallest margin of defeat in league play was a 19-7 loss on the road against Temple, and they’re coming off of a 22-2 loss to Florida in their most recent game.

Redshirt sophomore Haley Hallenbeck leads the team in scoring with 24 goals on the season, and the Indianapolis native returned home after starting her collegiate career at Bryant. Hallenbeck was a two-time high school All-American during her prep career, so she’s definitely going to require attention from the Marquette defense. Freshman Journey Fischbeck has shown a scorer’s touch this year (17 goals) as well as a passer’s mindset (a team high 12 assists), and denying her the ball may be MU’s best path to victory.

Head coach Cecil Pilson has been going back and forth between junior Allie Storke and freshman Haley Rayburn in net. Storke was a NJCAA All-American last season at Hartford Community College, and she played the full 60 minutes against Florida last time out. Storke has the much better goals-against average (16.36 vs Rayburn’s 19.67), but both women are stopping fewer than 35% of shots on goal this season.