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Marquette Women’s Lacrosse Preview: vs Central Michigan & vs Kennesaw State

WOOOOOOO HOME GAMES

Kennesaw State mascot
I got bored trying to find a picture of the KSU mascot, so here’s an inflatable version, which is actually more fun.
Facebook.com/KennesawStateOwls

Okay. So. The opening week of the 2018 season for Marquette Golden Eagles women’s lacrosse didn’t go particularly well. The Golden Eagles gave up big second half runs to both Johns Hopkins and Louisville on their way to two losses. MU was trailing by just two with 18 minutes left against the Blue Jays and again by just two with a bit more than 24 minutes left against the Cardinals. The big runs given away after that turned those scores into seven and eight goal losses respectively.

Not great!

There is a certain amount of sense to this, of course. Marquette’s offense is in a bit of a transition after losing three of the best scorers and passers in program history to graduation last season, so a bit of an adjustment period was going to be expected. On top of that, Johns Hopkins and Louisville are both earning votes in this week’s Cascade media poll, so those are the kind of results that happen when you play pretty good teams. I would have liked to see Marquette be a bit more competitive against Louisville, as that team’s roster is in a bit of disarray following their coaching change in November, but they’ve still got good players and a really great new coach.

Hopefully it turns into an excellent learning experience for the Golden Eagles as we move step-by-step towards the Big East schedule.

In any case, things get ever so slightly easier for Marquette this weekend. First, they will be at home at Valley Fields for two games, and it should be easier to win at home. Second, MU’s strength of opponent, uh, takes a little bit of a step back here. One team is in their third year as a program, while the other is in year six, just like the Golden Eagles. There’s also the issue of Marquette’s history against those two squads, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Grace Gabriel Watch: With six goals so far this season, the junior midfielder is up to 73 career points and 66 career goals. That’s the seventh most points and fifth most goals in program history. She’s going to be chasing the top of the leaderboard all season, but she’s going to have company along the way, and we’ll get to that in a second, but we have to mention Gabriel’s draw controls. She has 10 already this season, further advancing her career program record to 116. However, she’s now sharing that record with....

Allison Lane Watch: .... Lane, who has 15 controls this season to vault her from third all time at 101 with 116. Three goals thus far this season have Lane at 80 career points and 68 career goals. That’s sixth all time in points and fourth most in goals. Much like Gabriel, she’s still chasing a teammate in points.....

Riley Hill Watch: The senior from New York is MU’s current leader in career points with 89 after recording two assists in MU’s first two games. That’s the fifth most all time, and her career assists total of 35 is the third highest total in program history. Hill is chasing behind Gabriel and Lane in goals, though, as her 54 strikes are the seventh most in team history.

Game #3: vs Central Michigan Chippewas (0-0)

Date: Friday, February 16, 2018
Time: 3pm Central
Location: Andy Glockner Memorial Bubble, Valley Fields, Milwaukee, WI
Streaming: GoMarquette.com
Live Stats: GameTracker
Special Promotion: The first 150 fans in attendance get a free Marquette roll-a-banner. I am not 100% sure what that is, but presume it is a collapsible MU sign.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWLax

Marquette is 2-0 all time against Central Michigan, playing the Chippewas in each of their first two years in Division 1. The first meeting was a 17-4 ramshackling at Valley Fields, while last year’s encounter was closer, with MU escaping Mount Pleasant with a 12-9 victory.

This is season three for CMU, and they’ve been relatively successful in their first two campaigns. In their first go-round, they went 6-10 overall and 2-6 in the Atlantic Sun. Last year, they were 7-10 with a 4-6 record in the A-Sun. That’s not too bad for starting a program from absolute ground zero.

For year three, things have slightly changed on the Chippewas. They’re now in the Southern Conference, but that’s really more of an issue of conferences shifting around them than anything else. With Wofford beginning play in 2018, that means that the SoCon now has three of their 10 core members (Furman and Mercer are the other two) playing women’s lacrosse, so they’re sponsoring the sport now. The A-Sun is still sponsoring women’s lacrosse as well, with Jacksonville, Kennesaw State (hey, I know those guys), and Stetson holding things down over there. The good news for CMU is that all of their new conference mates in the SoCon, with the exception of Wofford, were members of the A-Sun last year. Thus, it’s all just the same conference matchups for them.

As far as expectations go for Central Michigan this year, they’re picked to finish third in the SoCon behind Furman and Mercer. They had three players turn up on the 14 woman preseason all-SoCon team: Emma Hamilton, Jocelyne Lemay, and Logan Halvorson. Lemay, a junior midfielder from Ontario, led CMU in goals last year with 49. Hamilton, an attacker from Maryland, went for 27 goals and three assists as a freshman last season. Halvorson did her damage on the defensive end, even though she’s listed as a midfielder. She only tallied two goals last season, but went for 55 ground balls and 29 caused turnovers. The wild thing about these three making the all-SoCon team is that Riley Huda is not there. She posted 20 goals and 42 assists last season, leading the team in points with 62. Huda’s still on the CMU roster, but she doesn’t even earn a mention in their official team preview. Injured? Changing role on the team? I got nothing for you.

All three of CMU’s goalies from last season are back this season. Hope Murray had the most starts and played 30 more minutes than Dominique Hamman, so I would wager that Murray will get the call in net on Friday. Keep your eye on Anna Schoonover, who grabbed up 59 draw controls and collected 30 points as a freshman in 2016, but missed most of 2017 with an injury. Marquette will have to be on their toes on the draw to balance out Schoonover’s ability.

Game #4: vs Kennesaw State Owls (0-2)

Date: Sunday, February 18, 2018
Time: Noon Central
Location: Andy Glockner Memorial Bubble, Valley Fields, Milwaukee, WI
Streaming: GoMarquette.com
Live Stats: GameTracker
Special Promotion: Participants from MU’s 2017 camps can attend for free. You should probably call the athletic department right now to do that, though.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWLax

Marquette and Kennesaw State have met just once before, coming last season in Georgia. That game ended in a 20-7 shellacking in favor of the Golden Eagles.

KSU is a sixth year program just like Marquette, and year five was their best season yet. After first ever head coach Kristina Llanes racked up just 12 wins in the first four years of the program, the Owls made a change, putting Laura Maness in charge. That worked out pretty well, as Kennesaw State went 8-9. Not too bad! They also had a best ever performance in conference play, winning four games for the first time.

They’re in the now-reformed Atlantic Sun, which does contain teams that were all in the conference last season, so nothing much will change for them in terms of their scheduling. With that said, they were picked to finish fourth in the six team league, but KSU is also the first team that didn’t earn a first place vote. The Owls got two women on the preseason all-ASun team in attackers Haley Swift, who was a unanimous selection, and Connor Zophy. Swift had 66 points (37G, 29A) a year ago, and also did a solid job on draw controls and ground balls. Zophy went for 29 goals and 26 assists, and came close to averaging one caused turnover a game.

With all of that said, KSU is 0-2 on the season after home losses to Arizona State and noted Big East member Vanderbilt. I should probably point out that ASU is a first year program in 2018 and they dropped the Owls in their very first game by a score of 14-6. Freshman Siena Gore is Kennesaw State’s scoring leader right now after posting up six goals in the first two games. Swift has put up three goals and a team high two assists so far this season. Junior Lauren Hoffman has played every minute in net so far, assembling a goals-against average of 16.00 and she’s stopping less than 40% of the shots on goal.