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Marquette Women’s Lacrosse Preview: at Louisville

The Golden Eagles take to the road after Friday afternoon’s home win over Cincinnati.

NCAA Womens Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Lexington Regional-Oregon State vs Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

I wasn’t quite sure if I wanted to fold this preview into the preview for Friday afternoon’s Marquette women’s lacrosse game as well. It’s a pretty quick turnaround as you can see from this being published on Sunday night, about 16 hours before first draw. That was why I thought I might want to put it together, but I also didn’t have much to talk about for the Golden Eagles after they got hammered in their opener by Notre Dame.

Now, after MU went out and hammered Cincinnati in their home opener, I have many things to talk about!

I don’t think you can take a lot of things away from the 17-6 victory, of course. That was kind of one sided, almost just as much as the loss to Notre Dame. However, it’s very good news that the Golden Eagles took the loss to the Irish in stride, shook it off, and went out and played the best possible lacrosse the next time out. If you look at the schedule, there’s potentially a lot of winnable games coming up over the next few weeks for Marquette. All due respect to Louisville and Canisius and Niagara and so forth, but they’re not Notre Dame and Denver. It’s going to be very important for MU to keep putting their best foot forward as the season progresses, especially given the number of newer faces that are needed to step up for the Golden Eagles to succeed.

The one thing that I was particularly pleased by is how effective Marquette’s defense was against the Bearcats. Last year, MU had a pretty productive offense with Grace Gabriel as the guiding light, but the Golden Eagles kind of struggled on the defensive end of things. Marquette forced the Bearcats into a number of failed clearances in the game, which had a big impact on the outcome as most of them came in the first half. The turnover numbers ended up being mostly even, so MU getting the Bearcats out of anything resembling an offensive flow before they could even set up is a really great thing to see. It might not be something that can be replicated against a different team, but “never came close to getting a shot off” is always the best kind of defense you can have in lacrosse.

One thing to work on: The Golden Eagles went just 3-for-11 on free position attempts in the game. That’s just 27%, and Marquette converted 43% of those a year ago. It didn’t really matter against the Bearcats, so that’s fine for that 60 minutes. However, giving up free cracks at the net — they’re called free position shots, for Pete’s sake — is not a great way to keep the ol’ offensive machine humming in a quality way. Emma Soccodato and Shea Garcia combined to go 0-for-5, while Megan Menzuber was just 1-for-4. Menzuber scored five live action goals in the game, so perhaps her arms were just tired.

Game #3: at Louisville Cardinals (1-1)

Date: Monday, February 17, 2020
Time: Noon Central
Location: UL Lacrosse Stadium, Louisville, KY
Streaming: ACC Network Extra, which means you have to have a cable package that includes ACC Network proper in order to be able to watch the streaming only broadcast.
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWLax

Marquette is 1-5 all time against Louisville. However, the one in that equation was last year at Valley Fields, as the Golden Eagles came out on top, 15-12.

Louisville’s press release on the results of the preseason poll in the ACC is absolutely delightful. It mentions how great Caroline Blalock is and how great she was last year and how great it is that she’s on the 17 woman preseason all-ACC team. It does not mention the fact that the Cardinals were picked to finish DFL in the ACC this season, nor does it mention the fact that UL picked up nine points in the polling against 20 for second to last Duke. Yikes. With that said, all seven of the other teams in the ACC were earning votes in the most recent Inside Lacrosse media poll so, y’know, when “last” is equivalent to “not top 20 caliber,” it’s not exactly a badge of shame. UL ignoring it is still funny, though.

Based on what we know about Marquette’s season thus far, Louisville’s results this year are unsurprising and also not necessarily in the same vein as a team picked to finish last in their conference. They have a 16-11 road win over the Cincinnati team that Marquette just whipsawed in the Valley, and then they have a 15-6 home loss to #9 Denver, aka the Big East preseason favorite. That’s fine. And hey, it was tied 3-3 after 20 minutes, 7-3 at the half, and UL scored the first goal of the second half before it all fell apart on them. That’s a halfway decent showing, honestly.

Blalock is, unsurprisingly, leading the team in scoring through two games. She’s up to four goals and three assists on the year after going for two and two against the Pioneers. However, she’s not leading in goals, as junior Ally Hall has five on the year. Freshman Izzy Holmes has made an impact right away, matching Blalock in assists so far, although her goal and all of her assists on the season all game against the Bearcats.

Head coach Scott Teeter has stuck with redshirt junior Rachel Florek in net for all 120 minutes of action this year. Averaging 13 goals per 60 minutes after playing the #9 team in the country in one of your two games is perfectly fine. Stopping just under 46% of shots on goal is pretty good, too. Louisville’s big problem so far this season is allowing clean looks at Florek, though. 86% of shots against the Cards have been on frame, so if MU can find a way to take advantage of what appears to be a notable flaw, things might go pretty well for the Golden Eagles in the Commonwealth.