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Marquette Women’s Lacrosse Preview: at Ohio State & at High Point

The Golden Eagles continue their month-long road trip against two good to very good opponents.

NCAA Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament-Ohio State vs Penn State Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

There’s some good news/bad news stuff coming out of Marquette women’s lacrosse in their last three games. Good news! The Golden Eagles made three giant second half pushes! Bad news! They’ve only won two of those games.

MU was already in control of their game against Detroit when they went on the run, so that’s fine. They trailed by five goals against Kennesaw State last time out before scoring 11 of the final 13 goals of the game to win by four. Against Cincinnati, the deficit was nine goals with 26 minutes left and eight with 14 minutes left. The final margin was only four thanks to the Golden Eagles’ offense kicking into high gear, but that’s not the point here. While it’s great that Marquette can find that switch and flip it, that’s not sustainable. It’s already proven to be against Cincinnati. I don’t know if it’s an issue with the defense needing to step up to keep things closer or if the offense needs to find some urgency earlier in the game, but MU needs to find a way to play an even 60 minutes of lacrosse.

One thing that may crop itself up here sooner rather than later is what’s going on in the Marquette net. For one reason or another, Sophia Leva has appeared in relief of Jules Horning in four of Marquette’s games this season. We can ignore the Notre Dame game, as Leva came in with the Irish up 12-1 at the time, so that was more of mop up duty than anything else. However, against Cincinnati, Leva came in with the Bearcats up 16-9, and the Golden Eagles outscored the Bearcats 9-6 the rest of the way. It was 13-6 when she came in against Detroit Mercy, leading to a 9-3 run for MU.

Kennesaw State provided the most interesting question about where head coach Meredith Black will go from here. The Owls scored with 1:21 to go in the first half, making it a 10-6 game in their favor. Horning had made just one save in 28+ minutes, and Black pulled the trigger on Leva. The sophomore from New York made six saves the rest of the way while allowing just five goals as the Golden Eagles outscored KSU 13-5 in the second half.

Look, goalkeeping in lacrosse isn’t all about what you do yourself. A lot of it is on the defense in front of you. For example, Lafayette’s Quinn Lacy leads the country in save percentage at this point of the season at .660. There’s just five goalies stopping over 60% of the shots on goal and only 34 stopping even half of the shots. When “I make a save at least half the time” is something that not most goalies can say, then it’s clearly not about individual play. With that in mind, why is Leva performing better than Horning, or more accurately, why is Marquette performing better with Leva as the backstop? Is the change what’s providing the kick in the pants to the rest of the team? That’s a question that the coaching staff and the players need to find an answer to, and hopefully soon.

Game #6: at Ohio State Buckeyes (3-1)

Date: Friday, March 1, 2019
Time: Noon Central
Location: Woody Hayes Athletic Center, Columbus, OH
Streaming: BTN+ on, which means you’ll need a subscription
Live Stats: StatBroadcast
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWLax

This will be the first ever meeting between Marquette and Ohio State. If you want to think about it this way, Marquette is undefeated against the Buckeyes.

It’s kind of wild that Marquette and Ohio State have three opponents in common with just five and four games played respectively. Both teams beat Detroit Mercy easily, and both teams lost to Notre Dame, although OSU’s loss was a little less lopsided at 19-10 and the Irish scoring the final three goals. The one where they differ is Cincinnati. Ohio State opened up their season by ripping through the Bearcats 16-6 while Marquette made a big push late but came up short, 22-18. What does all of this mean? Possibly everything, possibly nothing.

Baley Parrott and Liza Hernandez are going to be the two women that Marquette has to keep an eye on at all times. Both have scored 15 goals already this season, and yes, that’s in just four games. Hernandez is actually the more dangerous of the two, as she has added nine assists to the proceedings to lead the Buckeyes in points with 24. Yes, she’s averaging six points a game. Yes, that’s bananas. Somehow, she’s only tied for the seventh best average in the country. Side Note: Facing Boston College sounds terrifying with Sam Apuzzo and Kenzie Kent both over six points a game.

Ohio State’s ground game is pretty fearsome with three players already in double digits in ground balls. They also have four players with six caused turnovers at this point of the season, so that’s going to be something that Marquette is going to have to deal with at some point. I don’t know what it is exactly about how Ohio State likes to play, but there’s caused turnovers all over the field in their games to the tune of nearly 28 combined between the two teams, while Marquette’s combined average with their opponents is down at 17.

Jill Rizzo looks to get the start in net after playing all but 22 minutes so far this season. She’s stopping nearly 52% of shots on goal, which is pretty good. Her goals against average is 11.18, but she’s let in 14 and 19 goals in OSU’s last two games respectively.

Game #7: at High Point Panthers (1-2)

Date: Sunday, March 3, 2019
Time: 11am Central
Location: Vert Stadium, High Point, NC
Streaming: ESPN+, which means you need a subscription.
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWLax

This will be the first ever meeting between Marquette and High Point. If you liked thinking about MU being undefeated against Ohio State, then go ahead and think about MU being undefeated against the Panthers, too.

We’re going to have to hold off all judgments about what the Panthers are or are not this season a little bit. No, the 1-2 record isn’t shiny, but that’s the kind of thing that happens when you play the #2 team in the country in your second game and the #7 team and reigning national champions in your third. When you take that into account, getting outscored 25-14 in those two games isn’t really that bad, is it? High Point scored twice late to knot their game against #2 North Carolina at five each at halftime (good) and they were only trailing #7 James Madison 9-5 with 13 minutes left (not bad).

After all, this is a High Point team coming off of back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances and two straight undefeated runs through Big South play. They are, of course, the favorites to win it again this year. Abby Hormes was named Big South Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, and teammate Samantha Herman matched her with the defensive version of that preseason honor.

She might be the best player in the league, but for right now, Hormes and her eight goals on the season aren’t leading her team. The goals lead goes to Ashley Britton, who has nine, while the points lead is tied between Britton and, believe it or not, Herman (6G, 4A) with 10 each.

Sophomore Sarah Zeto has started every game so far, so barring something wild happening on Friday when HPU hosts Old Dominion, it seems likely she’ll be out there on Sunday afternoon. The New Jersey native is only stopping 41% of shots on goal, but again, she had to face two national championship contenders in the last two games. In the season opening win on the road against Furman, she went the full 60 minutes, allowing 12 goals and making nine saves. Then again, that’s only 43%, so maybe MU’s shooters will have something to take advantage of here.