Goals from Shea Garcia and Lindsey Willcocks in the final 13 minutes pulled Marquette women’s lacrosse even with Villanova on Saturday at Valley Fields, but the Wildcats scored the last two goals of the game to get the 15-13 win in the Big East opener for both teams. Marquette goes to 0-1 in league play and 6-7 overall, while Villanova is now 1-0 in the Big East and 7-4 overall.
For a moment there, it definitely looked like Marquette wasn’t going to even get those two game-tying goals. Villanova turned a 2-1 Marquette lead completely on its head over the final 19 minutes of the first half and first three minutes of the second half. Willcocks and Charlotte McGuire scored less than a minute apart to put the Golden Eagles up, but VU would score 10 of the next 12 goals to take an 11-4 lead with 27:29 left in the game. It was a pretty thorough domination by the Wildcats, with the majority of the play taking place on MU’s defensive end of the field. Case in point: Marquette was just 8-for-11 on clears in the first half, letting Villanova hang around out in front of netminder Jules Horning for what felt like days on end.
For whatever it’s worth, the game did turn around when MU head coach Meredith Black made the move to pull Horning from the game. It was right after Brittany Bruno scored to put VU up 11-4, and Sophia Leva took over in net for Marquette. Whether it was a “Horning isn’t getting it done” decision or a “Hey, wake the hell up out there” decision, it worked. Once Leva was in the net, Marquette looked much more lively out there, and it started showing up on the offensive end. Grace Gabriel broke up the Villanova run with her 38th goal of the year with 25:59 left to go, and that kicked off a big ol’ MU run. The Golden Eagles then scored the next six goals for a 7-0 run with Willcocks, Garcia, and Megan Menzuber each scoring twice.
That made it 11-all, but it maybe shouldn’t have been. At one point during the Marquette blitz, Cate Soccodato put the ball in the net on a wild unsettled play in front of the VU net. The ball was bouncing around free, someone tossed it over their back at the net and hit the post before Soccodato scooped it up and threw it past VU goalie Alex Moro. However..... the referees ruled that Soccodato did not discard her stick for a mandatory check quickly enough after scoring and thus the goal was waved off.
That’s one. Remember this.
Villanova was bound to break the run eventually and so they did, with Bruno scoring to put the Wildcats back in front. Nicole Concannon tacked on, and VU had a 13-11 lead with 7:20 to go. Still lots of time, which was proven very quickly when Garcia ripped down the field and scored just 18 seconds later. It would take MU a little bit longer to get another game-tying goal, but they got it with 5:14 as Willcocks got free in front of the cage and spiked a shot into Moro’s feet and past her.
Yet again, it looked as if Marquette had managed to take a lead on Villanova as Megan Menzuber scored with 4:16 left to play...... but there was a Villanova player laying on the turf holding her face, and Menzuber’s goal was wiped away in favor of a yellow card against her. I presume her stick cracked the defender in the face? I didn’t quite see what happened, but that’s what the referees adjudicated. My kingdom for mandatory helmets.
For those of you counting at home, that’s two Marquette goals wiped away for fairly ridiculous reasons.
Grainger Rosati finished off her hat trick to capitalize on the Menzuber penalty, leaving Marquette with just 3:33 to try to retie the game. The Golden Eagles had their chances, first with a pass that got picked off in the middle of the field by Nova’s Devin Hassinger. Then, immediately after a timeout by the wildcats, Moro was running around outside of her crease with the ball but used the crease to stop Marquette from checking the ball out of her stick, which is apparently a no-no, and thus Marquette ball. Good fortune! Except Marquette almost immediately turned right back over again. Bad fortune.
Nova got the clear, and after burning a bit of time, got one more goal from Bruno with 49 seconds left to ice the game. It was the sixth of the game for Bruno, which does kind of ruin the fact that Marquette held Katie Comerford, VU’s top scorer, completely in check for about 75% of this game and held her without a goal on the day. Comerford would finish with two assists on the day, but just two shots, neither on goal, and four turnovers.
Willcocks led Marquette with four goals and added an assist to top the points category, too. Garcia and McGuire both had hat tricks for the Golden Eagles, while Gabriel was held to just one goal to extend her all-time points record.
Up Next: In one week, Marquette will be back in the Valley to host Butler. The Bulldogs are 3-8 on the year after falling 21-3 to Georgetown on Saturday. They’ll visit Cincinnati on Tuesday before making their way to Milwaukee, and it’s probably worth mentioning that Butler has been outscored 53-7 in their last three games.