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Marquette Women’s Lacrosse Preview: at Old Dominion

It’s the first ever meeting with the Big East’s newest affiliate member.

NCAA Football: Old Dominion at North Texas
Is that Randy Orton dressed up as the ODU mascot?
Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Would you believe that there are only three regular season games left in 2019 for Marquette women’s lacrosse? It’s true! This road game, next Saturday’s road game against Denver, and then one final home date against Georgetown.

With that being the case, Saturday’s contest in Virginia is going to be kind of a big one for the Golden Eagles. I feel that it’s safe to say that Marquette should be favored to beat a 3-11 team, even while going out on the road. The same can not be said for next week’s game against Denver, as the Pioneers are currently ranked #15 in the country in the Inside Lacrosse media poll. The way this season has gone for Georgetown, that one might be a bit of a tossup, but I still wouldn’t automatically say that MU is favored to win.

Why does all of this matter? Well, for two reasons. First, only the top four teams in the conference earn spots in the Big East tournament. Two teams are getting left out, and if MU can beat the Monarchs on Saturday, Marquette will have picked up the tiebreaker advantage against both the current fifth place and current sixth place team in the standings. That’s bound to be important. More importantly to that end, Marquette is hosting the Big East tournament this year. That means the possibility of winning two home games to sail through to the program’s first ever NCAA tournament.... but you have to finish in the top four to get there.

I’m not going to try and tell you that the league is going to put an edict in to make sure that the Golden Eagles get into the field. If that was the case, Marquette would have beaten Villanova two weeks ago while rallying from down huge in that one. But the Golden Eagles have to take advantage of the chances to get wins that are in front of them. That describes Saturday’s game perfectly.

Big East Game #3: at Old Dominion Monarchs (3-11, 0-2 Big East)

Date: Saturday, April 13, 2019
Time: Noon Central
Location: L.R. Hill Sports Complex, Norfolk, VA
Streaming: ODUSports.com, but it’s a premium event and thus will cost you $10 for a month of ODU sports access.
Live Stats: ODUSports.com, and good luck with that, because it looks like a mess right now.
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWLax

This will be the first ever meeting between Marquette and Old Dominion.

As you can tell, this season is not going well for Old Dominion. I’m trying to decide if this should be a surprise. They were 5-13 last season, but they did return 10 starters from a year ago. They have a 23-3 loss to then-#25 Virginia Tech on their board, as well as a recent 20-1 loss to then-#15 Denver in their first ever game as part of the Big East. That’s not great on any level, and if you’re putting up those kind of results against ranked foes, it’s probably not surprising that you’ve put up a 3-11 record overall.

The Monarchs come in on a three game losing streak, with the middle loss being that monster against Denver. That also includes a 17-10 loss to Villanova last time out and a 14-8 road defeat against Liberty. I should probably point out that Liberty is 11-2 on the year, so to a certain extent, losing by six to them isn’t all that bad. It’s still a loss, though, and it’s part of the reason why they have a -105 goal differential on the year.

For whatever reason, Old Dominion doesn’t have up-to-date stats on the ol’ website. Their PDF only goes through the game against Denver, so you’ll forgive me for not accurately getting these right for all 14 games that they’ve played. Marquette’s biggest goal on defense will be stopping Glory Johnson. The junior attacker has 37 goals on the season and four assists to lead the team with 41 points. Johnson has taken nearly twice as many shots as anyone else on the team (she has 82, Sophia Richie is second with 46), so if you can disrupt Johnson, you can derail everything ODU is trying to do. They’ve tallied just 38 assists on the season on their 101 goals, so passing isn’t their strong suit, either. They do give up goals on the pass, allowing 86 assists on 199 goals, which is a lot closer to a 50/50 proposition than what ODU is doing on offense.

MU will need to be careful around Mary Katherine Maloney and Alyssa Sebesto. They have 20 and 22 caused turnovers respectively, which is pretty good. On the flip side of that, ODU’s opponents have caused 151 total turnovers, and part of that is leading to their 78% success rate when it comes to clears. That doesn’t seem all that great, and if MU can keep the ball on their offensive end, this should go in the Golden Eagles’ favor fairly easily.

Haleigh Wurzel has played the heavy majority of the minutes in net this season, including the full 60 against Villanova last time out, so I’d expect to see her again here. Wurzel is a graduate transfer from Mercer, where the Pennsylvania native set the program record for saves in a career. She’s only stopping 42% of shots on goal this season, so as long as MU can get shots on net, they should be able to put goals up on the board.