On the whole, I think we have to take the opening weekend for Marquette women’s lacrosse as a win.
Yes, the season opening loss against Notre Dame was not a pleasant experience, both in terms of the final margin as well as the overall aesthetic of how things went for the Golden Eagles. However, perhaps that’s just Notre Dame being a little bit underrated this season, and maybe they’re much better than merely receiving votes in the Inside Lacrosse media poll to start the season.
The important thing to note about all of this is that MU shook off that opening day loss and took care of business two days later against Louisville, picking up the program’s first ever win over the Cardinals. It took a bit of hustle and bit of determination, but they came away with the 15-12 win to even up the season record at 1-1. Any time you reverse the course of history against an opponent, even if it was just one of the two opponents for the weekend, you have to chalk the entire thing up as a victory.
That moves us along to week two of the 2019 season, where the Golden Eagles will play their first road game of the year before returning home for their last game at the Valley until March 23. No, really! Meredith Black will be leading her squad on a seven game road “trip” that will send them to Georgia, Ohio, North Carolina, Florida, New York, and Michigan before returning to Milwaukee to face what will probably be a ranked Northwestern team. There’s going to be a lot of growing for this Golden Eagles squad along the way, and if we’re being honest about the whole thing, that growing starts this weekend with the jaunt to Ohio and quick turnaround back to Milwaukee to play again 48 hours later.
I don’t want to demean or insult anyone here, but if Marquette believes that they are a contender for the Big East title this season, they need to start showing it this weekend. It’s not that they didn’t last weekend, far from it. However, the fact of the matter is that MU is a collective 9-1 in program history against their two opponents. That’s pretty one-sided, particularly when you remember that the Golden Eagles only had their first ever winning season last year. We’ll get into it more as the month goes on, but let’s just say that Marquette has never lost to any of the opponents on the upcoming road “trip,” so there’s going to be a lot of chances for Grace Gabriel et al. to show what they’re made of and stack up wins.
But that starts this weekend down in Ohio. One game at a time.
Game #3: at Cincinnati Bearcats (1-1)
Marquette is 5-1 all time against Cincinnati with one meeting in each of the Golden Eagles’ seasons of Division 1 competition. The Bearcats took the first ever contest, but Marquette has won the next five, including a pair of 8-7 nailbiters in 2015 and 2016.
Cincinnati comes in with a record of 1-1 that I think could safely be called unsurprising. They fell 16-6 in the opener against Ohio State in a rivalry where the Bearcats only picked up their first win last season in seven attempts. They followed that up with a 19-8 victory over Kent State in the Golden Flashes’ first ever Division 1 game. Like I said, nothing surprising for a team that went 8-9 a year ago and was only saved from being picked last in the debut season of American Athletic Conference women’s lacrosse by the mere existence of East Carolina.
With that said, a glance at the ol’ stat sheet tells you what you need to know about the Bearcats. Monica Borzillo and Sam Mlkvy are #1 and #2 in points through their first two games, and they were both given preseason all-AAC honors, including a unanimous selection for Borzillo. Amanda Donovan doesn’t have the stats to back up her preseason all-AAC honors quite yet, but that’s what happens sometimes when you’re a defender. Borzillo has nine goals already, and five assists is a whole pile of helpers for just two games. Mlkvy is more scoring minded, tallying six points with five of them coming by way of a goal. Donovan has three caused turnovers and six ground balls through two games, which is pretty good, just not enough to lead the team in either category.
Giuliana Durso has earned the start in net in both games for head coach Gina Thomas. She played nearly the entire Ohio State game and then swapped out at halftime against Kent State. UC was only up 8-6 at the time, so that’s not a situation where Thomas made a move because they were overpowering the debuting KSU team. With that in mind, I think we have to wonder if we’ll see Durso or freshman Kate Brocato. She made three saves in the second half against the Golden Flashes while only allowing two goals in a game that was still competitive with 18 minutes left. It’s also possible that Durso is locked in as the starter and the switch was planned given Kent State’s debut status and the stats involved is more luck than anything else.
Game #4: vs Detroit Mercy Titans (0-1)
Marquette is 4-0 all time against Detroit Mercy. The two teams met in each of MU’s first four seasons as a Division 1 program, but have passed up the opportunity to play in the last two campaigns. I don’t know what made the decision to end the local-ish rivalry series for a time, but I would imagine that Marquette suddenly shedding four Big East games since last year had a lot to do with restarting it.
The Titans are 0-1 on the year after a 19-5 loss on the road against Ohio State back on Sunday afternoon. That game wasn’t even as close as the final score indicated, as the Buckeyes had a 18-2 lead with 21 minutes to go. Please feel free to re-read that sentence and then go read about Cincinnati’s game against Ohio State again, and remember that MU will play the Buckeyes on March 1st in Columbus.
Lexie Kinmond was the leading scorer against Ohio State with two goals and an an assist. Elise Harder had a goal and an assist and Morgan Girardi had two goals. None of this should be a surprise for you, as Kinmond and Girardi were both preseason honorees by the Southern Conference. The Titans were picked to finish second in the SoCon this season, earning two first place votes and falling just one point short of first place Furman. They went 4-1 in SoCon action last season to earn a share of the regular season title, so they come into this, the first season under head coach Megan Callahan, with a goal in mind and something to prove.
Allison McDonough played the full 60 minutes in net against Ohio State, so I presume she’ll be back out there against Marquette, too. The senior was UDM’s primary goalie last year, posting a goals-against average of 12.64 and stopping 44% of shots on goal.