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Marquette Women’s Lacrosse 2018 Season Preview: The Returning Players

While there’s an awful lot of talent that departed, the Golden Eagles have a significant collection of major players back in 2018.

Charlotte McGuire
Charlotte McGuire will get a chance to make a big impact on Marquette’s offense this season.
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Marquette women’s lacrosse starts the 2018 season ON FRIDAY!

That’s exciting!

With that being the case, it’s time to do some season previewing! Today we’ll take a look at what head coach Meredith Black has returning from last year’s roster, which should have you in a positive mindset for the upcoming season. Coming up later this week, we’ll take a look at the freshmen on the team, and ask a few pressing questions about this year’s edition of the Golden Eagles.

Let’s get into it!

ATTACK

There is a large and heavy burden being placed on Marquette’s group of returning attackers in 2018. Through no fault of their own, they’re going to be asked to pick up the mantle of last year’s senior class, and it’s almost unfair to ask them to do that. Last year’s senior attacking trio of Amanda Bochniak, Claire Costanza, and Julianna Shearer closed down their college careers as 1-2-3 in career points for Marquette, 1-3-5 in goals, and 1-2-5 in assists. Now, yes, it’s fair to point out that 2018 will be just year six of Division 1 lacrosse at Marquette, but the fact of the matter is that those three women are three of the four to ever record 100 points in blue and gold. They’ve provided a major amount of the scoring for MU since the program’s inception, and now that burden is going to have to go elsewhere.

The good news is that Marquette’s returning attack is filled with experienced veterans. That experience starts with MU’s #5 all-time scorer, Riley Hill. The senior from West Islip, NY, has 87 career points on 54 goals and 33 assists. That’s the seventh most goals and third most assists in program history as well, as Hill has been a contributor to MU’s offense from day one in Milwaukee.

Hill is joined in the offensive third by Charlotte McGuire and Cate Soccodato, both of whom had saw significant playing time in 2017. McGuire, now a senior, had a breakout campaign, going for 17 points (15G, 2A) last season, including the game-winner in MU’s season finale against Vanderbilt. Soccodato was limited to just 13 games of action last year, and saw most of her playing time coming off the bench after earning 14 starts in 2016. Her scoring was down, going from 17 to 10 goals, but Soccodato still managed three assists.

Hannah Ignacio didn’t score for the Golden Eagles as a freshman last year, but she did make 11 appearances, including one start against Northwestern. Ignacio may be a major beneficiary from all of the suddenly available free playing time on the offensive end, as she’s already earned a lot of trust from the coaching staff. Bridget Danko saw action in two games as a freshman in 2017, including tallying a goal and an assist in MU’s 19-2 shelling of Butler. As you can tell, she was a little bit on the deep end of the bench last season, so we’ll have to see if Danko can work her way into the lineup this season.

MIDFIELD

Marquette’s midfielders will be the strength of the team this year. Headlining the group is Grace Gabriel, MU’s lone rep on the preseason all-Big East team. As a sophomore last season, Gabriel broke the Marquette record for goals in a season, but she doesn’t hold the record, as her 41 was still surpassed by Julianna Shearer’s 55. Gabriel is MU’s leading returning scorer, so it wouldn’t be crazy to see her take down Shearer’s record this season. Even if she doesn’t, she’ll still be a primary part of Marquette’s offense, as Gabriel set a program record for draw controls last season. If she can maintain or even improve on that kind of a pace again this year, the Golden Eagles should be set up to score in bunches.

Gabriel’s primary running partner will be Allison Lane. The 6-foot tall senior missed a couple of games last year with an injury, but still found time to tally 24 goals and four assists. That was a bit of a dip in her scoring rates from her sophomore season, but MU’s deep attacking corps may have contributed to that as well. With Marquette having fewer proven options on attack this year, look for Lane to vacuum up some of those scoring opportunities.

Past Gabriel and Lane, Marquette has a couple of midfielders with experience on the field, but not necessarily at putting the ball in the net. Lindsey Willcocks played in all 17 games as a sophomore with three starts, but she only tallied five points. She did grab up 12 draw controls, and clearly has the trust of the coaching staff, so it seems likely she’ll play a notable role this season. Bella Falcone, Logan Dobratz, and Megan Menzuber all played in at least 10 games last season with varying results. Dobratz and Menzuber combined for 12 points and a handful of ground balls, while Falcone didn’t even take a shot last year, but chipped in on defense with three ground balls and three caused turnovers.

Abigail Squirrell and Holly Andersen were relegated to deep bench roles on last year’s squad. Squirrell recorded a goal and an assist in MU’s 20-7 win over Kennesaw State early on in the season, while Andersen appeared in three contests and had two draw controls in that same KSU game. They’re both juniors this season, so we’ll see if they push their way onto the field for the Golden Eagles in 2018.

DEFENSE

Marquette’s defense may be a little bit of a work in progress to start the season. Fran Meyer has graduated leaving now-senior Alex Gambacorta as MU’s only returning full time starter from last season. Gambacorta had the second most ground balls on the team last year, tying Meyer with 27. She also had the second most caused turnovers with 21, trailing (surprise) Meyer’s 30.

The somewhat good news for Marquette is that Meyer will end up being replaced by one of the two women that split time as the third defender in the starting lineup last season. Junior Laine Dolan appeared in all 17 games for the Golden Eagles last season, earning seven starts down the stretch. Junior Kate Vivano started on opening day alongside Meyer and Gambacorta, making 15 appearances and 10 starts overall. Putting both of them into the lineup will be a solid way to go about things, it’ll just be a matter of the trio of Gambacorta, Viviano, and Dolan figuring out how to play together. Dolan and Viviano were solid contributors last season, given their part-time-ish status, and given an opportunity for more playing time, odds are they’ll be able to bump up to averaging a ground ball and a caused turnover per game.

Marquette has two sophomores and a senior forming their experienced depth on defense. Jordan Simonides is the senior in the group, appearing in nine games over the past two seasons. Anna Gallagher saw action in five games as a freshman last year, while Erin Dowdle got on the field in two contests. With just two freshmen listed as defenders on the roster, Marquette will need all three of these women to play a notable role on the team this season.

GOALIE

We have a new name at goalkeeper this season, but we don’t have a new starting netminder. In what I can only presume is a reaction to Julianna Shearer’s graduation, Jules Horning is now Julianna Horning on the roster. Hey, whatever makes her happy, as she’s also Marquette’s all time leader in saves per game after posting 8.15 in 13 appearances as a freshman. Part of that is merely a by-product of the installation of the 90 second shot clock last season. That boosted scoring numbers all over the place, which is partly why Horning also recorded a goals-against average of 14.47. If Marquette has their eyes on the program’s first ever Big East tournament appearance, they will need a sophomore boost from Horning.