It was good for Marquette women’s lacrosse to get back to a winning path last weekend against Stetson, but perhaps Marquette also figured a few things out, too.
The Golden Eagles were without the services of Cate Soccodato (4G, 20A) and Charlotte McGuire (23G, 3A) in Florida last Sunday. However, that lack of offensive punch from that powerful pair didn’t affect what MU did on that end of the field. Marquette found themselves up 3-0 very quickly as Grace Gabriel did Grace Gabriel things, but it was the long view of the whole first half that has to make head coach Meredith Black smile. It was 16-3 before Stetson scored just before the half ended and six different Golden Eagles had found the back of the net. By the time the horn had sounded, Marquette had outshot the Hatters 23-11 and put 20 of those 23 shots on goal. It wasn’t just the offense shooting it well that was going great for Marquette, as Stetson was just 4-for-8 on clears in the first half, so that’s a very good job by the offensive end of the field to stop the Hatters from getting the ball out of that end.
Look, yeah, maybe Stetson was completely overmatched, even with Soccodato and McGuire out of the game. It is what it is. After Marquette went 0-2 the previous weekend with a narrow defeat against Ohio State and a lopsided 20-9 defeat against High Point, it was good for Marquette to fire on all cylinders while missing two starters on offense. It’s unclear as to whether or not those two will be back in the lineup come Friday afternoon in Buffalo, but as we’ll talk about in a minute, maybe the Golden Eagles will be able to get through things okay without them for another weekend if needed.
The point of all of this is that, counting this weekend, Marquette still has the next two weekends worth of games to go before Big East play starts. Last year, with a 10 team league, conference play would be starting right now just to get through nine games. With only five league games to be played, MU has a few more games to go to iron all of their issues out before starting off the Big East against Villanova on March 30th. Let’s see another strong weekend from the Golden Eagles on both ends of the field, shall we?
Game #9: at Canisius Golden Griffins (0-6)
This will be Marquette’s first ever meeting with Canisius.
By now you’ve already seen the Griffs’ record so far this season. It’s.... not great, but it is a little misleading. They have played Notre Dame, Northwestern, and James Madison, all of whom were ranked at the time, so you can’t really fault them for those losses. Maybe the 62-14 margin in those three games does deserve a little bit of fault, but big picture it’s no big deal. The other three losses are a mixed bag at best. Canisius rallied from down 7-6 at halftime to force overtime just barely against Robert Morris. Seven straight second half goals from George Mason led to a 17-10 loss. Yale jumped out to a 9-1 lead before finishing with a 17-7 margin. None of those three squads are particularly memorable or interesting, so there’s not a lot to be impressed about from the Canisius side of things there.
If you toss out the three games against ranked teams, Canisius is scoring nine goals per game this season. This feels like something that can work in Marquette’s favor. Jourdan Roemer is leading the way for the Griffins offense with 14 goals already this season. The senior from New York has scored at least two goals in each of the last five games for Canisius, so Marquette should be expecting her to come out firing. The Griffins have 20 assists on their 41 goals this season, and Marissa Malvaso leads the squad with five there, while Roemer and her triplet Miranda both have four helpers. In case you were wondering, yes, the third triplet, Antonia, also plays for the Griffins, starting in all six games this season.
Canisius’ goaltending situation is a bit of a mess right now. Three goalies have started two games each, with freshman Shannon Maroney getting the nod in the last two contests. She played the full 60 minutes against George Mason, but was lifted for Lauren Gilbert, the previous starter, after 27 minutes against Yale. None of the three have a goals-against average below 15 goals per 60 minutes, and none of them are stopping more than 28% of shots on goal. I don’t know if head coach Allison Daley knows for sure what her best option is right now, but I would wager Marquette will see either Maroney or Gilbert.
Game #10: at Niagara Purple Eagles (3-4)
This will be the second ever meeting between Niagara and Marquette. MU took the first one, 23-15, a year ago at Valley Fields. That game set a brand new Marquette record for goals in a game.
Three up and four down for the Eagles this season, directly in that order. Three straight wins against St. Bonaventure, Binghamton, and Central Connecticut State to start the year, then four straight losses coming into this game. All four came away from upstate New York, with the first three — Ohio State, Yale, and Bryant — turning up as official road games and the most recent — UMass — ending up as a neutral site game down on Stetson’s campus on Wednesday. The first three losses were generally speaking close affairs, with the 17-10 loss to Yale marking the widest margin. Against the Minutemen, though? Hoooooo. 25-11 is your final from DeLand, Florida, as things fell apart as the game went on. It was 7-5 UMass after 13 minutes, but that’s when UMass went on an 8-0 run to blow the doors open. Niagara clawed back to 15-10, but UMass ripped off nine straight to finish that one off.
The Purple Eagles have tallied 90 goals this season for an average of nearly 13 per game. As such, Marquette is going to need to score in bunches to beat them again. Senior attacker Rachel MacCheyne has 30 goals already on the season, which yes, that’s one-third of Niagara’s entire total. Fellow senior Caroline Crump has 15 goals as well, so Marquette’s defensive orientation has to be towards stopping them at mostly all costs. MacCheyne has accounted for nearly 24% of NU’s shots this season, so disrupting her will be crucially important. The Golden Eagles are acutely aware of this, as MacCheyne had six goals on just nine shots against them a year ago.
Freshman Maren Geiger is the goalie of record for Niagara this season with over 300 minutes played. She has a goals-against average of 13.40 and is only stopping 48% of shots on goal. Michelle Messenger, also a freshman, has appeared in six of NU’s games this season, but she’s only tallied 93 total minutes played. Most of those appearances were under 10 minutes, but Messenger played more than half of the Ohio State game and nearly half of the UMass game. Geiger will presumably start, but if Marquette plays the way that they did last year against Niagara, it seems likely that Messenger will get in there as well.