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2018 Marquette Women’s Lacrosse Season Preview: The Newcomers

There’s a chance that a few of these names could make an impact on the Golden Eagles this season.

Head Coach Meredith Black
Head coach Meredith Black has a new crop of freshman to integrate into her roster.
MarquetteImages.com

We’ve already taken a spin through the returning players for Marquette women’s lacrosse in 2018. That means it’s time to take a peek at the freshmen on the roster and see what we can see in terms of who might be able to contribute to the team right away. Like we did with the returners, we’re splitting the players into their assigned positions on the MU roster.

We kick things off with the most confusing part of the roster....

ATTACK/MIDFIELD

All I can do is tell you about what’s listed on the official Marquette roster, and for right now, there are no freshmen who are solely marked as attackers. There are, however three midfield/attack players on the roster, so for the purposes of our discussion here, we’re going to give them their own category.

Of the trio, Claire Hamilton is the one that jumps out the most at me in terms of players who might be able to give something to the Golden Eagles right away. Hamilton is a talented player, earning All-Kentucky honors three times in her prep career along with a Kentucky Midfielder of the Year award and the illustrious Kentucky Miss Lacrosse honors. She threw in 139 goals and 164 assists in her high school games, helping push her teams to three straight state titles and four straight title game appearances. Her 329 draw controls are a school record at Kentucky Country Day School, and if that knack can translate to college, she could definitely earn some playing time quickly.

Mary Dooley is no slouch, by the way. The Loyola (IL) Academy product earned all-conference and all-state honors twice during her high school career. This is all while chipping in on three state title teams. I say “chipped in” because her official Marquette bio page doesn’t list any stats for her. Obviously someone who earns all-state honors is great, but it seems that Dooley’s impact might be more on the defensive end, and even then, not so much in the statistical areas. She does have two sisters who played lacrosse at Notre Dame, so she won’t be unfamiliar with the demands of playing at this level.

The third and final entry to this category may be a little bit of a work in progress. Caroline Peterson doesn’t have the stats, nor even the team accomplishments that her fellow attacker-types have, although Hereford did win a regional title in 2015. She was part of a relay team that won a 4x200 meter state title in 2016 in Maryland. That shows that Peterson may contain a special kind of speed when it comes to running, namely sprinting at top speeds for particularly long distances. That’s a kind of talent that can come in useful in lacrosse, so we’ll see if head coach Meredith Black makes use of it.

MIDFIELD

Marquette adds five midfielders in this year’s recruiting class, and at least based on their prep career scoring totals, it seems that there’s three of them that could get on the field pretty quickly for the Golden Eagles. We’ll start with Caroline Steller, who has the highest goal total of the group. She found the back of the net 190 times in high school, and also dished 144 assists and found time for 118 draw controls. That’s a lot of action for one four-year career. Steller was named MVP of Merion Mercy Academy’s league as a junior, and eared two all-league first team honors, too.

I want to shift gears to Madison Kane next, even though she doesn’t have the second best scoring totals of the freshmen. As a high school teammate of Mary Dooley at Loyola Academy, Kane’s career didn’t truly take off until her senior season. Her career scoring marks? 118 goals and 90 assists. Senior year? 71 and 55. YEP. Just chugging along, averaging double digits in both categories for three years, and then KABLAMMO, points everywhere. It wasn’t just her scoring, either. Kane registered 53 of her career 96 ground balls as a senior, and 90 of her 182 draw controls. The draw controls thing makes it seem like Loyola was using her a little bit more as a specialist through three seasons before letting Kane go wild as a senior. We’ll see if that senior campaign is indicative of what she’s capable of in college. I am very disappointed that her name is not Lana.

Consistency appears to be the hallmark of Virginia native Brynn Sunderland. In her four years at Battlefield High School (leaning a little hard on the metaphors here, aren’t we, Virginia?), she was an all-district performer all four years, with three appearances on the First Team. Sunderland finished with career totals of 125 goals and 56 assists, but it’s her 152 ground balls and 130 draw controls that interest me most of all. It would seem to indicate that she’s a two-way midfielder, not just a scorer, and it seems to show that she makes the hustle play on the regular.

The official Marquette bios for Emily Cooper and Sophie Murphy are a little on the thin side, so we’ll have to wait and see how they fit into the coaching staffs plans for their first season. Cooper doesn’t have any stats listed, but she did play on a nationally ranked team in Maryland as a senior. She missed out on being MU’s first ever Wisconsin recruit by thismuch as she was born in Milwaukee. Murphy was never much of a goal scorer in high school, totaling just 16 goals. Her 79 career assists are respectable, even by the standards of her fellow freshman middies. Her Baltimore area high school teams won three conference titles during her tenure, so she’s used to being part of a winning program.

DEFENSE

As we discussed in the returning players report, Marquette has two freshmen lining up on the defensive end of the field. Both of them have a chance to earn some playing time this season based on the number of upperclassmen on the roster. Jocelyn Miller seems to be the more likely of the two to start earning minutes early, but maybe that’s more of a product of her hailing from Long Island. Lacrosse is pretty popular out on the island, of course, so it’s more likely for her to win division titles and county titles and win a state championship. There’s just more quality players out that way. We should probably note that Miller earned five varsity letters in lacrosse in high school, so she’s been good enough to play at the high school level since eighth grade. We’ll have to see how that translates to the Division 1 collegiate level.

Meanwhile, Nia Polk finds herself coming into Marquette in a different situation. She doesn’t have the fancy division or county titles in her prep career that Miller does, but she does has two all-conference first team honors. She’s also got something else going for her: Polk is the very first Marquette women’s lacrosse player to hail from a Wisconsin high school. She’s a graduate of Tremper High down in Kenosha, and hopefully the first wave of talented lacrosse players who will stay at home and play for Meredith Black.

GOALKEEPER

By default, Sophia Leva is Marquette’s most important freshman heading into the season. The 5’5” New York native is the only goalie listed on the roster other than sophomore Julianna Horning. Heading into 2018, Horning has pole position on the starting spot after last season, but Leva will be her only backup and/or the coaching staff’s only other option if Horning isn’t making a leap in her second season.

Leva does seems to fit the profile of a player who could push Horning for playing time. She’s an All-American coming out of high school according to US Lacrosse, and earned multiple all-league and all-area honors during her prep career, including two Finger Lakes Defensive Player of the Year trophies. Her Palmyra-Macedon squads won two league titles and made the program’s first ever state semifinals appearance in 2017, and with Leva stopping 63% of shots on goal as a senior.