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Marquette Women’s Lacrosse Preview: at #13 Denver Pioneers

The Golden Eagles head to the mountains for their first ever Big East clash with the Pioneers.

2014 NCAA Division I Men’s Lacrosse Championship - Semifinals Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

After Wednesday’s thrashing at the hands of #3 Florida, Marquette women’s lacrosse is out in the Rocky Mountains for this weekend’s contest, but it’s yet another game this season against a ranked opponent.

This probably won’t end up going well for Marquette, at least not if history tells us anything. The Golden Eagles have never beaten a ranked team before in program history. They’ve been close, including narrow home losses to Louisville and Johns Hopkins earlier this season.

Getting a win on Saturday would be a little more important than just the biggest win in program history, too. The Golden Eagles are sitting at 2-2 in Big East action, which is mostly fine. However, that has them sitting in sixth place in the conference, behind the undefeated Gators and a four-pack of teams tied at 3-1. Only the top four teams in the league will make the Big East tournament, so Marquette needs a win in a big way. Denver is one of the four squads tied at 3-1, so the win would help jumble the standings a little bit as well.

Julianna Shearer Watch: The senior from Maryland already has the Marquette record for career goals, but now she’s closing in on the record for goals in a season as well. Shearer is sitting on 35 goals this season and needs just one more to tie the record..... which was set by Shearer last season.

Fran Meyer Watch: The senior from Illinois is getting close to hitting a milestone. With 27 ground balls on the season, Meyer now has 97 in her career and needs just three 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 Florida to get to 31 on the season and needs just two more to tie Lane for the third most in program history. Gabriel’s next shot will break the program record for shots in a season, as she’s already tied Shearer’s 2016 campaign of 74 shots.

Big East Game #5: at #13 Denver Pioneers (9-2, 3-1 Big East)

When: Saturday, April 8, 2017, at 2pm Central
Where: Peter Barton Stadium in Denver, CO
Audio/Visual: If you’re out west, Altitude TV will carry the broadcast, but the rest of us will have to pay for a video stream. Live stats are free, though.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWLax

Marquette is 0-1 all time against Denver, with the first meeting coming last season out in Colorado. The Pioneers turned a 3-2 Marquette lead in that game into an 8-3 DU advantage with 21 minutes left to play and ended up with an 11-5 victory.

Denver has just two NCAA tournament appearances in program history, so it’s possible that this is shaping up as the best season in program history. In their two NCAA tourney seasons — 2013 and 2014 — the Pioneers went undefeated in league play, so there is a slight bit of a dip from those high points, as they already have a 15-8 loss to Florida. However, the Gators were ranked #3 in the country at the time, and their only other loss was to a #13 ranked Colorado team at the time, so those aren’t exactly ugly losses.

The Pioneers come into this game with a two game winning streak and wins in four of their last five games. They’re coming off a 20-3 win over Butler where 30 different Pioneers saw action, including three different goalkeepers. I think they’re going to be well rested, even though the game was on Wednesday in Indianapolis.

DU has a trio of high scoring attackers in Kendra Lanuza, Julia Feiss, and Elizabeth Behrins. All three have tallied more than 20 goals already this season with Behrins leading the way with 29. Lanuza is the dangerous player, with more assists (24) than goals (23) on the season. Maddy Stevenson has been the starting goalie all season for the Pios, and she’s allowing less than nine goals per 60 minutes. Denver’s defense isn’t asking her to make a lot of saves, as she’s ranking sixth in the conference in saves per game.