A Big East tournament record 17 saves from Julianna Horning wasn’t enough for Marquette to slow down top seeded Florida on Thursday afternoon, and the Golden Eagles ended up bowing out of the semifinals after a 19-8 loss to the Gators.
This go-round with the Gators went much better than the regular season meeting where Florida scored 11 times in the first 15 minutes on their way to an 18-6 victory. Here it was merely 6-2 after 15 minutes, and Megan Menzuber scored less than a minute later to cut the Florida lead in half. When Logan Dobratz went dipsy-do through the UF defense with less than 10 minutes left in the first half, Marquette was trailing by just three at 7-4, and things looked halfway decent for the Golden Eagles.
And then the bottom dropped out.
Lindsey Ronbeck scored two of Florida’s three goals, both on assists from Shannon Kavanagh, in the last five minutes of the first half on her way to a Big East tournament record eight goals in the game, and suddenly it was a 10-4 game at intermission. Ronbeck tacked on two more in the first three minutes after halftime after Madi Hall broke the ice on the second half, and boom: 13-4, 27 and change to play. This was effectively over.
Marquette’s major failing in the game was turnovers. 12 giveaways in the first half were partnered up with 11 more in the second for a total of 23. When you’re tangling with a top 10 team like Florida, you have to play nearly perfect lacrosse in order to have a crack at beating them. Double digit turnovers in each half is pretty much by definition not that. At least Florida caused 14 of those turnovers, so we can chalk that up to Florida being really good as opposed to MU just throwing the ball all over Gainesville.
We did get a highlight late in the game as Grace Gabriel scored her second goal of the day with 3:35 remaining. It was her 56th goal of the year, which broke Julianna Shearer’s single season record of 55, set just last year. It was also Gabriel’s 116th career goal, surpassing Shearer’s record of 115. The 2018 Big East Co-Midfielder of the Year is only a junior, so the sky’s the limit as to how high Gabriel can take that career record next season.
We mentioned it at the top, but Julianna Horning’s massive display in Marquette’s net can not go ignored. She set a Big East tournament record with 17 saves to keep the Golden Eagles close, including a BET record for saves in a half with 13 in the first half alone. She was great, spinning together a masterful performance to close out her sophomore year.
The loss means that the 2018 season is over, but this was by far the most successful season of Marquette lacrosse. The team finishes with a record of 10-8, which is the first time Marquette has had a winning record, as well as a program record for wins. MU went 6-3 in Big East play, which is also a record for wins in league play. In addition to the new highs in wins, the Golden Eagles broke the single season team records for goals, assists, points, draw controls and ground balls. On top of all of that, this Big East tournament appearance was the first in program history. That’s a lot of really great stuff going on!
As great as the season was, the end of the year means we have to say good bye to the seniors. That also means that we have to say THANK YOU to Alex Gambacorta, Riley Hill, Allison Lane, Charlotte McGuire, and Jordan Simonides. They took a chance on a fledgling MU program five years ago when they made their commitments and signed their letters of intent. Their hard work and effort over the last four years have been major components of building the Golden Eagles to this point, where MU is on the verge of becoming a nationally relevant program. The development of the women’s team has been slightly overshadowed over the past few years by the men’s lacrosse team’s meteoric rise, but what head coach Meredith Black has done over the past six seasons has been exactly what you could expect from a start up team. This year’s seniors have been core contributors to Marquette’s development, and they will be missed. We here at Anonymous Eagle wish them nothing but the best in the future.