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Marquette Women’s Lacrosse Preview: vs Central Michigan & vs Ohio State

The Golden Eagles return to Milwaukee for a pair of games, where they are undefeated this season.

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff Semifinal-Ohio State vs Clemson Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Last week’s trip to Arizona did not go as well as we might have hoped for Marquette women’s lacrosse. They appeared to be two winnable games for the Golden Eagles, and based on results, that still seems to be true. However, Marquette returned from the desert with a 1-1 record after losing to Arizona State and holding on to beat Fresno State by one goal.

To a certain extent, that’s not good for Marquette. Those two games were MU’s last real opportunities for tuneups this season. This week, as we’ll get into in a minute, brings the Golden Eagles two games against opponents that beat Marquette a year ago, albeit in their own buildings. Last year’s MU team was one of the two best squads in program, as evidenced by picking up the first win over a ranked opponent in team history..... and they still lost on the road to these two teams. Next week has a game against an opponent that MU has never lost to, sure, but there’s also a game against a program that absolutely hammered the Golden Eagles last year. After that? Big East play.

Things are ramping up here for the Golden Eagles, and you’d have to feel a lot better about how things are going for them if they had come away from the two games on Arizona State’s campus with two wins. That didn’t happen, so we’re left with questions about what Marquette is capable of this season. Maybe we were always going to see a team with big questions left unanswered after the departure of so many prolific offensive players. Or maybe Marquette figured a few things out maybe just a little too late to be able to beat Arizona State, and we’ll see some big steps forward this week.

Either way, things are, on paper, getting tougher for the Golden Eagles from this point forward, and they’re going to have to make some big tough plays in order to stay above .500 after these two games.

Game #8: vs Central Michigan Chippewas (1-2)

Date: Wednesday, March 4, 2020
Time: Noon Central
Location: Andy Glockner Memorial Bubble, Valley Fields, Milwaukee, WI
Streaming: GoMarquette.com
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWLax

Marquette is 3-1 all time against Central Michigan. However, the loss did come last season out in Mount Pleasant.

Central Michigan comes to Valley Fields after losing at Cincinnati on Sunday afternoon. The Chippewas had scored three straight to pull within one goal at 12-11, but then did not score for 13 minutes, allowing Cincinnati to build an insurmountable lead. CMU went down swinging, as they pulled within two goals with two minutes to play, but could not score again until the very last second of regulation.

That dropped them to 1-2 on the season, although the other loss makes a lot more sense. They fell 24-4 to Notre Dame in their opener, and Marquette already saw up close and personal what exactly the Irish can do this season. Central Michigan’s win this year was a blowout of Butler, as they won 14-2. Since that’s also a Big East foe and MU already beat Cincinnati in Milwaukee this season, this game should provide us with an interesting measuring stick for the Golden Eagles.

CMU may have lost to the Bearcats, but it wasn’t because Natalie Karlen wasn’t trying. The senior attacker from Maryland had four goals and four assists on the day, and that vaulted her into the team lead in both categories as well as for points on the year. She has at least one goal and one assist in every game this season, so Karlen is someone that the Golden Eagles will have to be mindful of all game long. She has help out there, as Emma Hamilton has scored seven times in Central Michigan’s three games this year, and Jessica Schuchardt has registered an assist on six of CMU’s goals. For only three games played, that’s a pretty solid trio of scoring options.

Freshman Sierra Savage has played at least five minutes in net in all of the Chippewas’ games this season, and she went the full 60 minutes against Cincinnati. I would presume that would make her the most likely option to start in net against Marquette, but you can never be sure. Senior Hope Murray started CMU’s first two games, but obviously did not play at all against the Bearcats. Murray has the better stats on the year (11.30 GAA, 44% save percentage) than Savage (15.12 GAA, 35% SV%), but if Savage played because Murray couldn’t, then that takes that option off the table. Freshman Erin Owens is on the roster too, and she got 2:30 of action against Butler, but that’s it so far this year for her.

Game #9: vs Ohio State Buckeyes (4-3)

Date: Saturday, March 7, 2020
Time: 2pm Central
Location: Andy Glockner Memorial Bubble, Valley Fields, Milwaukee, WI
Streaming: GoMarquette.com
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWLax

Marquette is 0-1 all time against Ohio State after losing a lead and suffering a narrow 11-9 loss to the Buckeyes in Columbus last season.

Lacrosse scheduling is weird. I’m not really sure why Central Michigan has only played three games while Marquette and Ohio State have both played seven up to this point, but here we are. At least this gives us more information about what the Buckeyes have been doing this year. With that in mind, Ohio State won’t play again until Saturday and is currently on a two game losing streak, and has actually lost three of their last four games.

In their defense, the losses aren’t terribly surprising losses. Two were on the road, and a third was at a neutral site. All three teams that have beaten Ohio State in this run (and the only three this season it should be noted) are currently ranked in the top 20 of the Inside Lacrosse media poll: #2 Notre Dame (18-7 in South Bend), #6 Stony Brook (20-7 out on Long Island), and #20 UMass (a 21-16 barn burner in Atlanta for some reason). You can’t fault the Buckeyes for challenging themselves with this schedule, but it has resulted in losses on the board.

Unfortunately, Ohio State hasn’t actually updated their stat sheet with numbers from the UMass game. That leaves us flying a little blind in terms of who’s actually leading the team in various departments, but hey: Six games worth of stats is still pretty useful.

ANYWAY

Up thru their loss to Notre Dame, Liza Hernandez was Ohio State’s most dangerous attacker. She already had 12 goals on the season to lead the team in that category, and with three assists as well, she has the team lead in points, too. Perhaps most impressively, she actually did that while missing a game, so that’s only a five game total for Hernandez. She did play against UMass and registered two more goals, so she should be ready to go against the Golden Eagles on Saturday.

Sophie Baez and Chloe Johnson have both recorded nine goals through the first six games for OSU, which provides the Buckeyes with a solid trio of options on offense. Baez put up five assists in Ohio State’s first six games to lead the team in that department, and as a team, they are getting a helper on about one-third of their goals this season.

Jill Rizzo is the netminder of choice this season for Ohio State. Before playing the full 60 against UMass, she was allowing 14.22 goals per 60 minutes. That seems like a lot, but she’s also stopping 46% of shots on goal. That’s some pretty good save action, so perhaps her goals-against average is merely a by-product of Ohio State’s pace of play more than anything else. The Buckeyes seem to struggle with the defensive posture of their field players, as more than 82% of shots against this season have been aimed between the pipes. Marquette has had a similar problem this year (83%), so whichever team manages to figure that aspect of their game out might have the best shot at getting the W.