It’s a weird set of games here for Marquette women’s lacrosse. First of all, it’s one home and one road, although that’s the second time that’s happened this season. Second of all, it’s a Thursday/Saturday split, instead of the Friday/Sunday splits we’ve seen before. Making it just a little bit weirder is the fact that the road game on Thursday afternoon in Michigan is the seventh straight road game for Marquette, so they still have to finish out the last in a month’s worth of road games, only to turn around and schlep back to Milwaukee after that one to play again on Saturday night. Oh, yeah, and it’s a night game on Saturday, which just adds to the entire oddity of the circumstances.
The good news is that Marquette comes in on a three game winning streak, giving them four wins already on their seven straight jaunts away from home. They’ve already clinched a winning record on that run, so Thursday presents them with an opportunity to just keep that streak running. That’s particularly good news, as Saturday’s opponent is, as you can see at the top of the page, ranked #11 in the country. Things do not get easier from there for Marquette, as Saturday is MU’s last non-conference contest of the season. Each of the next five successive weeks bring Marquette’s five Big East games of the year, and there’s a little extra stake in it for MU this season. They’ll be hosting the Big East tournament in the first week of May, so qualifying for the four-team event is, y’know, kind of important.
But that’s what’s down the road. That’s why it’s important to wrap up these last two non-conference games with strong performances. I’m not saying that Marquette has to go out and beat Northwestern, mind you. Facts are fact: Marquette has never defeated a ranked team before, so either A) the odds are against that suddenly happening now, or, and this is the more fun one, B) they’re due for a breakthrough.
I’m just hoping that they make it interesting. Walk away from that one with heads held high, and ready to attack the league schedule.
Game #11: at Central Michigan Chippewas (2-5)
Marquette is 3-0 all time against Central Michigan, with all three meetings coming in the last three seasons. Marquette has won by double digits in the two games in Milwaukee, but it was just 12-9 in their sole trip to Mount Pleasant.
CMU comes in on a four game losing streak, which is not great. Their most recent game was an incredibly wild one, with Duquesne running away over the final 20 minutes to win 24-18. The previous two games were low scoring and fairly close, so that road L against the Dukes is pretty weird. The Chippewas have two games with opponents in common with Marquette already this season, and both were their two wins of the year. They beat Butler 16-6, and then opened up their home slate with a 12-11 overtime win over Cincinnati. The Bearcats scored the final four goals of regulation and six of the final eight to force the extra session, and yes, that’s the same Bearcats team that beat Marquette 22-18. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what the transitive property tells us about this game.
While the wins have not been stacking up for CMU, the goals have been piling up for Jocelyne Lemay. The senior midfielder is averaging just short of a hat trick every time out with 20 goals in seven games this season. Lemay is good for three points per game, as she has added three assists to her production. Jessica Schuchardt provides some pop as well, getting to 21 points this season on 13 goals and a team high eight assists. Central Michigan is getting an assist on 37% of their goals this season, so the Marquette defense will need to keep their head on a swivel.
Senior Dominique Hamman has started every game in net for the Chippewas, but she’s only finished the full time twice. In fact, she’s only passed the 30 minute mark in two other games, so it seems that Marquette may be able to create enough havoc to force a goalie change by CMU head coach Sara Tisdale. Hope Murray is the backup, and with about three games worth of minutes fewer than Hamman, she has a better goals-against average and better save percentage. Of course, she’s coming on in relief, so it’s possible that she’s just not facing the same ratio of shots.
Game #12: vs #11 Northwestern Wildcats (5-3)
Date: Saturday, March 23, 2019
Time: 7pm Central
Location: Valley Fields, Milwaukee, WI
Streaming: Actually looks like that’s not happening, believe it or not
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWLax
Marquette is 0-5 all time against Northwestern, which should not really surprise you. The Wildcats haven’t won a national championship since 2012 or a Final Four since 2014, but they also haven’t missed the NCAA tournament, and that can be a pretty steep hill to climb for a program that’s still finding it’s footing like Marquette. The middle three meetings had single digit margins at the final horn, while last year’s encounter was 20-9. This will be the first meeting in Milwaukee since 2015.
The 5-3 record for Northwestern might not look like it’s worthy of the #11 team in the country, but as you’ve probably guessed by now, that’s because they’re tangling with top teams. They have a 15-14 road loss to then-#7 Syracuse, a 21-11 road loss to then-#3 North Carolina, and a 22-17 home loss to then and still #1 Boston College. The last two are a little troubling if you’re a Wildcat supporter, given that NU scored a bunch late to tighten that one up. The Syracuse loss isn’t too bad, but Northwestern ripped off five straight goals to take a 14-12 lead there with 7:05 to go before allowing three more down the stretch to end up on the short end of the stick. All three of those losses happened in a four game stretch, but NU is coming in off of a 23-13 road win over Rutgers last week Thursday.
As you’d expect with those kinds of scores against tippy top teams, Northwestern can score in a bunch of ways. Selena Lasota (27) and Lauren Gilbert (23) have both tallied 20 goals already this year, and three more Wildcats are in double figures. Lindsey McKone has a team high 10 assists with Lasota right behind her at nine. 10 women have scored at least five goals so far this season, which is how you end up averaging more than 18 goals a game.
Julie Krupnick will be the goalie for Northwestern when they come to Milwaukee, as she’s started every game this season. She’s had her struggles this season, playing all but about 85 minutes worth of action. Krupnick is stopping just 39% of shots on goal, which is probably impacted by NU’s four games against ranked teams this season. With Julianna Horning only stopping 36% of shots on goal this season, this game may end up being decided by which goalie can give their team the better performance.