Four hat tricks and a sock trick by Charlotte McGuire powered Marquette women’s lacrosse to a 23-15 victory over Niagara on Saturday afternoon. The Golden Eagles are now 4-3 on the season, and have a brand new program record for goals in a game, surpassing the previous record of 20.
The one thing we knew about Niagara for sure coming into this game was that the Eagles were capable of putting the ball in the net on a regular basis. That was definitely the case, as Niagara went neck-and-neck with Marquette in the first half. Through the first 20 minutes of the game, it was all even at eight goals each. The Golden Eagles outscored their Purple rivals 8-2 over the final 10 minutes of the frame to take a 16-10 lead into the break.
That didn’t exactly feel safe though, even though MU scored three goals in the final minute and two in the final 30 seconds. Maybe it was because of that, actually. Sure, those count on the board, but there was still 30 minutes left to play.
Anywho, McGuire cracked the ice on the second half in just 30 seconds, and Grace Gabriel got her fourth of the game before two minutes had elapsed to make it 18-10. With the old record at 20, it was clear that MU was going to score at least two more goals in the next 28 minutes, and in fact, they would probably need to do that. As it would turn out, only the first part of that theory was correct. Lindsey Willcocks recorded the record tying goal with 19:34 remaining, and she provided the record breaking goal at the 17:48 mark. At that point, it was 21-12, and things were looking pretty safe for the Golden Eagles.
McGuire’s sixth goal of the game came with 9:26 to play, and that put the Golden Eagles up 23-13, and that meant the race to the finish was on as the running clock was activated. Niagara would tack on two more goals, both in the final two minutes, but it was all but over at that point.
McGuire was one getting her goal song played the most at Valley Fields, coming off the bench to record six goals on just nine shots. However, it was Riley Hill who was the cornerstone for the Marquette offense on the day. The senior from New York scored four goals of her own, but also tacked on four assists — two to McGuire, one to Megan Menzuber, and one to Cate Soccodato — to tie her with NU’s Rachel MacCheyne for the game high in points on the day with eight. Gabriel finished with four tallies, giving her 26 on the season, which is already the sixth most in a season in MU history. We’ll have to see if she can maintain this pace in Big East action — MU has just one non-conference game remaining — but Gabriel is on pace to smash the Marquette record for goals in a season, set by Julianna Shearer just last season.
One thing to watch: Head coach Meredith Black pulled Julianna Horning from the net after less than 19 minutes of action. Horning left after Gabriel had put Marquette up 8-7 with 11:47 left to go in the game, leaving freshman goalie Sophia Leva to play out the remainder. Obviously, that went pretty well for Leva, as she gave up eight goals and made eight saves in over 41 minutes of action. Horning had made just one save while allowing seven strikes, so the question becomes whether Black was protecting her sophomore netminder, making a switch to alter the outcome of the game, or, possibly, merely making a change to shake her field players into an awareness of how badly things were going on the defensive end.
Up Next: Well, I don’t know if we’re going to get a real answer to the question about Marquette goaltending situation in the next game. See, the Golden Eagles will be out on the road to take on Northwestern, and the Wildcats are currently ranked #10 in the country. They’re 4-2 on the season after losing their only game this week..... but it was a 15-10 loss to Stony Brook, the #1 team in the country. Their other loss? 9-8 on the road to #14 Duke. In other words, the ‘Cats might be kinda good. First draw is scheduled for noon on Saturday in Evanston.