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Marquette Women’s Lacrosse Preview: at #15 Denver

The Golden Eagles head to Colorado for a Big East tilt against a ranked foe.

2014 NCAA Division I Men’s Lacrosse Championship - Semifinals Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Both sides will have a lot to play for on Friday night under the lights in Colorado, but it’s safe to say that Marquette women’s lacrosse is playing for just a wee bit more. Denver is aiming to clinch a share of the Big East regular season title, but the Golden Eagles will be attempting to beat a ranked opponent for the first time in program history AND clinch a spot in the Big East tournament.

As things stand right now for Marquette, it’s possible for the Golden Eagles (2-1) to end the year in a tie with Butler (0-3) and Old Dominion (0-3), and even though MU’s wins came against those two teams, tiebreakers are a harsh mistress. A win on Friday, though, would give MU three wins in their five league game schedule and that would guarantee finishing in the top four and in the conference tournament. That’s a particularly big deal for the Golden Eagles, as they will be playing host for the league tourney. The thought of needing to win just two home games in order to hoist a championship trophy, the first in the program’s history, is tantalizing.

Of course, if Marquette ends up losing to Denver — the Pios aren’t nationally ranked for their health, y’know — wins by Villanova and Georgetown on Saturday afternoon would also lock the Golden Eagles in, as that would give Butler and ODU four losses and thus push them away from MU’s worst possible finish.

Big East Game #4: at #15 Denver Pioneers (11-2, 3-0 Big East)

Date: Friday, April 19, 2019
Time: 8pm Central
Location: Peter Barton Stadium, Denver, CO
Streaming: DenverPioneers.com, but there’s a little padlock graphic, so it might cost you some cash.
Live Stats: StatBroadcast
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWLax

Marquette is 0-3 all time against Denver. Each of the meetings have come in the last three seasons, with Denver winning twice in Colorado and once in Milwaukee. Each game has been decided by exactly six goals.

Denver comes in on a four game winning streak, and only a 15-14 overtime loss to Virginia Tech, currently ranked #20 in the country, is interrupting wins in six of their last seven games. Their only other loss on the year was at home on February 26th, when Michigan scored seven times in the final 14 minutes to rally from down three at the time to give the Pios a loss.

Denver has a very silly +33 goal differential in Big East play so far this season, but that’s a little misleading. They bombed away against Old Dominion in their opener, winning 20-1, and last time out, Denver beat Butler 16-5. Those two are the clear two worst teams in the six team Big East, so it’s not surprising that a very good team like Denver ripped them up like that. In their other Big East contest, they beat Georgetown 12-9 back on April 6th with Denver using an 8-1 run in the second half to rally from down 6-4 right after halftime.

Believe it or not, Denver does not have the most dangerous scoring duo in the Big East even if they are the only ranked team in the league. Quintin Hoch-Bullen and Bea Behrins rank #3 and #5 in the league in goals per game this season, while MU’s very own Grace Gabriel and Charlotte McGuire are #1 and #4 respectively. It’s a small difference, with the MU pair getting 5.70 goals per game and the Pios netting 5.31 goals on average. The key phrase there, of course, is “duo.” Denver also has the services of Julia Feiss, who averages 2.15 goals per game on her own. She’s seventh best in the Big East, and that trio is quite formidable.

Still, it is a battle of the two best offenses in the Big East in terms of pure scoring average, but it’s what MU will be seeing against them while on offense that will decide the game. Denver leads the Big East in caused turnovers per game as well as goals-against average. If the 10.85 forced takeaways per game didn’t frighten you, the part where the Pioneers are letting in less than seven goals per 60 minutes should. Carson Gregg is a shot stopping machine, knocking down a Big East best 48.9% of shots on goal and personally only allowing 6.88 goals per 60 minutes. MU is allowing over 13 goals per 60 minutes this season, so the Golden Eagle will need perhaps their best defensive effort of the season if they want to beat a ranked team for the first time in program history.