And so, the eighth season of Marquette women’s lacrosse begins on Sunday.
It’s a year of big question marks for head coach Meredith Black. Grace Gabriel, Marquette’s all-time leader in goals and points wrapped up her collegiate career last year, and with her went Cate Soccodato and Charlotte McGuire, two more of MU’s most productive offensive players in program history. Black is going to have to find scorers to replace that trio, and might take a minute or two for the Golden Eagles to get that situation hammered out.
Defense is a little bit more settled this season, with Kaitlyn Viviano returning from injury to join Jocelyn Miller and Erin Dowdle out in front of Julianna Horning in net. The names and people are the same as last season, but the results need to be better. Marquette finished the year getting outscored by their opponents, and yeah, a couple of really lopsided results had a lot to do with that since MU ended up at 9-9 at the end of the year. Getting the midfielders on the offensive end settled quickly will help the defense get settled as well, as it will be some of the middies going both ways for the Golden Eagles.
It’s going to be a rough go of it to start this season for Marquette. You can see how they start the year with a road game against a top 10 team. Their next two contests are against teams that finished in the top half of the country in terms of RPI last season, and they’re both teams that Marquette lost to a year ago as well. It might be a situation where the Golden Eagles grow and learn more than pick up wins across the first few contests, but we’ll see what happens.
Game #1: at #7 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (0-0)
Date: Sunday, February 9, 2020
Time: 11am Central
Location: Loftus Sports Center, South Bend, IN
Streaming: ACC Network Extra, which is only available via streaming if your cable provider gives you ACC Network proper.
Live Stats: Stat Broadcast
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWLax
Marquette is 0-7 against Notre Dame, which happens to be head coach Meredith Black’s alma mater. The Irish have been ranked in every single meeting between the two sides, and have always won by at least five goals.
Notre Dame comes into 2020 after a 14-5 season last year that ended in the round of 16 in the NCAA tournament. That’s pretty good for a team that started last season ranked #20 in the country. This year, they’re #7 in the country to start the year, which is also pretty good. Not only do they have three players on the preseason all-ACC team, but those same three — attacker Maddie Howe, midfielder Andie Aldave, and midfielder Savannah Buchanan are all preseason Inside Lacrosse All-Americans. Aldave is a First Team All-American, Howe is on the Third Team, and Buchanan is on the third team. The trio combined for 122 of Notre Dame’s 285 goals a year ago as well as 57 of their 131 assists. In their free time, they accounted for 227 of ND’s 254 draw controls.
Seems good, and the Irish will probably be fine just filling in the margins around those three this season. In case you needed this drawn into sharper relief, those three had six goals and three assists in Notre Dame’s 19-4 victory over Marquette at Valley Fields last year, as well as 14 of the 18 Irish draw controls. Yup.
We can go ahead and throw a little bit of a question mark on Notre Dame’s goaltending situation. Bridget Deehan and Grace Steffens are the only two netminders on the roster, and they combined for 160 minutes played last year. They combined to allow just 14 goals in that time, which is pretty good, but neither of them were full time players on any level. Deehan saw action in 10 of Notre Dame’s 19 games, so I presume she has the inside track on starting on Sunday. She stopped 62% of shots on goal in her limited action last season, so while I wouldn’t expect that to continue, it’s a pretty good sign that the 5’3” junior from Georgia knows what she’s doing.