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Marquette Women’s Lacrosse Preview: vs Canisius & vs Niagara

The Golden Eagles return to Milwaukee for a pair of games with an eye on getting above .500.

Check it out, it’s notable Canisius alumnus Beth Phoenix!
C.W. Griffin/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Here’s what we’ve figured out about NCAA women’s lacrosse so far in 2020:

  • Marquette is better than Cincinnati.
  • Louisville is better than Cincinnati.
  • Louisville is better than Marquette.
  • Louisville is picked to finish last in the ACC.
  • The ACC also includes Notre Dame, which is obviously better than Marquette.
  • The ACC is probably very good and we should generally be pleased that Marquette is not in that league.

We’ve also learned that turnovers are bad. In Marquette’s two losses thus far this season, the Golden Eagles have committed a total of 20 turnovers in 45 combined minutes before scoring a goal. With 54 turnovers on the season, that means that the Golden Eagles have committed 34 turnovers in their other 135 minutes of action this season. That seems like a much more reasonable pace than essentially one every other minute. One every four minutes is also probably not particularly great, but hey: it’s twice as much time without coughing it up.

Let’s focus on the positive, shall we? Marquette’s next five opponents are currently a collective 3-8 on the season. Obviously, things can change wildly between now and when MU actually plays them, but for now, it certainly seems like these are winnable games for the Golden Eagles. Sure, it’s hard to tell what to make of opponents that are losing by 16 to Northwestern or 20 to Notre Dame at this point of the season. But we do know that Marquette got clonked in the head by the Irish, so if it’s a battle of two teams that got clonked in the head by a tippy top opponent, then I feel like that’s a game that Marquette can win.

The point is that this is the stretch of the schedule where head coach Meredith Black and her squad need to get everything working smoothly. When this five game stretch is over, it’s going to be (almost) nothing but high quality opponents and/or Big East games in front of them from there on out. If Marquette has an eye on a third straight Big East tournament appearance, then this five game stretch that starts on Friday afternoon in the Valley is the time to get everyone on the same page for that goal.

Game #4: vs Canisius Golden Griffins (0-3)

Date: Friday, February 21, 2020
Time: 1pm Central
Location: Andy Glockner Memorial Bubble, Valley Fields, Milwaukee, WI
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWLax

Marquette is 1-0 all time against Canisius. They picked up a 19-8 victory over the Griffins last year in New York.

Canisius’ record so far this season is slightly misleading but is also not misleading at all. So they lost 21-6 to then-#4 Syracuse. Oh well, things happen. Losing by one to Duquesne isn’t great, obviously, but they did rally back from down 4-1 to pull within one with 80 seconds to go, so that’s not terrible. Losing by one at home to Merrimack for the Warriors’ first ever win as a Division 1 program? That stinks. You can take whatever reaction you want from Canisius wiping out a 9-5 Merrimack lead before losing on a goal with 19 seconds to go. Good, but also not good, y’know? After going 3-15 a year ago, Canisius was picked to finish eighth in the nine team MAAC this season where four different squads earned at least one first place vote. It’s not terribly surprising that they’ve having trouble early on this year.

The Malvaso triplets were a major reason why Canisius rallied against Merrimack. Miranda Malvaso scored two of the four goals down the stretch. Marissa Malvaso assisted on one of her sister’s goals and then tied the game at nine with a goal of her own. None of this is surprising. Marissa is tied with Katie Smolensky for the team lead in points with 10, while Miranda leads the way in goals on the year with seven. Antonia, the third triplet, hasn’t recorded a point yet this year, but she has started all three games at midfielder and leads the squad in both ground balls and caused turnovers.

Lauren Gilbert has been in net for most of the season so far for the Griffins, missing just the final 15 minutes against Syracuse. Her 14.50 goals-against average is not good, obviously, but she’s stopping 42% of shots on goal. MU’s Jules Horning is only snaring 38%, so that is something that puts the Golden Eagles at a disadvantage here. The upside for MU is that 79% of shots against Canisius have been on frame so far this year. If the Golden Eagles can be patient enough, they can find the space to take quality shots.

Game #5: vs Niagara Purple Eagles (0-2)

Date: Sunday, February 23, 2020
Time: Noon Central
Location: Andy Glockner Memorial Bubble, Valley Fields, Milwaukee, WI
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWLax

Marquette is 2-0 all time against Niagara. The Golden Eagles won by eight in Milwaukee two years ago and then by 14 last season in New York.

A moment ago, I mentioned the MAAC preseason poll. This is relevant again here because Niagara is in the same conference. The Purple Eagles were picked to finish seventh in the nine team league, getting 29 points against 28 for Canisius. In short, the coaches in the MAAC see the two teams as roughly the same. The primary difference is that the MAAC coaches have Niagara’s Lauren Paul as one of the four best defenders in the league.

This hasn’t meant all that much so far for the Purple Eagles, as they’ve been outscored 32-14, including a 15-3 loss last time out against Harvard. Niagara has scored a majority of their goals this season seemingly long after their games were decided. They tacked on two against the Crimson after trailing 11-1 with 20 minutes to play. In their opener, Niagara added six goals to their day after falling behind 15-6 to Boston University with 15 minutes to go. They’ll come to Milwaukee on Sunday with a third game played, but their Thursday afternoon game against Merrimack — yes, the same Merrimack that beat Canisius — was postponed until Friday.

Even with all of their struggles so far this season, Jenna Brill has five goals already this season, and leads the team in points as well thanks to her one assist on the year. Mackenzie Travis has accounted for three of NU’s seven assists this season, so the Golden Eagles are going to have to be wary of her positioning on the field.

Senior Aubrey DeVeau has started both of Niagara’s games at goalie, but she has not finished either one. She’s allowing 19.45 goals per 60 minutes on the year and stopping just 38% of shots on goal. Sophomore Michelle Messenger has been the reliever both times, and her stats on the year are absolutely spectacular: 9.05 GAA, 53.8% save percentage. However, Messenger is clearly coming in long after NU’s games are decided, playing 17 minutes against BU and 22 minutes against Harvard. Messenger’s numbers are a by-product of Niagara’s opponents taking their foot off the gas with a lead, so the difference between her and DeVeau is misleading. Unless something wildly changes against Merrimack on Friday, I’d expect to see DeVeau start against Marquette on Sunday.