The lesson, such as it goes, is don’t fall behind by seven goals.
That was essentially Marquette‘s primary problem last Saturday in their Big East opener. The Golden Eagles gave up a 10-2 run to Villanova to end up trailing 11-4 with 27:29 to go in the second half. That’s not ideal. It was good that MU rallied to knot the game at 11 and again at 13, but they couldn’t quite get over the hump to secure their first conference win of the season.
Marquette’s problem was that they couldn’t put the ball in their offensive end enough. Sure, they won the day in draw controls, 16-14, and they had fewer turnovers than Villanova, 21-19. But MU went just 15-for-20 in clearing attempts in the game. That’s five opportunities with the ball after either forcing a turnover or making a save that short circuited before MU’s offense could fully take possession and make a threat on the VU defense. When you end up with a two-goal margin at the end of the day, that’s the kind of thing that spells the difference between winning and losing.
Case in point: After Marquette had tied the game at 11 and both goalies had made a save on either end, the Golden Eagles had possession again and were looking to take their first lead since going up 2-1 early. But a turnover created a failed clearance, and after a couple of fouls by the Golden Eagles, Brittany Bruno scored on the free position attempt to put Nova up 12-11. In their hands..... and then it wasn’t.
Saturday will be Marquette’s second to last home game of the season. They’ll go out to visit Old Dominion and Denver on each of the next two Saturdays before returning home to face Georgetown in the regular season finale. With one loss already in the books, it will be crucial for Marquette to pick up this win to move them into position to ensure a spot in the four team Big East tournament. There are only five league games this year with the newly reconstituted conference at six teams, and Marquette is hosting the conference tournament. It would be a very big deal for MU to get to play those home games, but they have to get the wins to be able to do that.
Big East Game #2: vs Butler Bulldogs (3-9, 0-1 Big East)
Marquette is 2-0 against Butler, playing the Bulldogs in each of their first two seasons of Division 1 lacrosse. The Golden Eagles have outscored Butler 38-5 in the two games.
As you’d expect, Butler’s still having a rough go of things here in Year Three. Their Tuesday afternoon loss to Cincinnati put them on a four game losing streak headed into Saturday’s game against MU. While they came out on the short end of the 19-6 stick, their six goal total was the most that they had scored in a loss since putting up 12 against Gardner-Webb on March 10th. So that’s something.
They got wrecked by Georgetown, 21-3 in their first Big East game of the year last week Saturday. On one hand, not fun. On the other hand, Georgetown is just barely on the outside of the Inside Lacrosse media top 20 poll this week, so it is what it is. It might be possible that Butler will come out on fire in this one if they’ve looked ahead at their schedule. After Saturday, they visit #4 Notre Dame on Wednesday and then host #18 Denver next weekend. That’s even less fun, so you can see how they might be a little extra motivated to try and get their first ever Big East win. Yes, that’s right, they’re currently 0-19 all time in conference games.
Keeping in mind that Butler is averaging just 6.82 goals per game this season, Ashley Guerra leads the team with 24 in 12 games this season. Rounding to the nearest whole number, Guerra is literally 25% of their entire offense. If you give her credit for her assists as being responsible for the goal that was scored, that number goes up to 41%, as she has 16 helpers on the year. That’s absolutely bananas. Stop Guerra, stop Butler. It’s that simple.
Haley Hallenbeck (12 goals) is worthy of defensive attention as well, and the same could be said for Karina Latsko, if she plays. Latsko (15G, 5A) hasn’t played for Butler since March 10th, but 20 points in seven games is pretty darn impressive. If she’s back in the lineup, then that’s an extra punch to help Guerra out.
Sophomore Amanda Rumsey appears to be the starting netminder for the Bulldogs, but she generally speaking doesn’t finish a lot of games. She hasn’t played the full 60 minutes since March 1st, which is the kind of thing that happens when you have a -80 goal differential as a team. Rumsey is allowing nearly 16 goals per 60 minutes played and is only stopping 38% of shots on goal. Primary backup Katie McGrath’s numbers are better (12.02 GAA, 43.5% SV%), but that’s the kind of thing that happens when teams let off the gas a little bit with a lead, too.