So, it’s late July. I should probably finally put a bow on the Marquette women’s lacrosse season, huh? I mean, they only played their last game on March 11th. Get it together, me!
But seriously, I was waiting to see if we were going to get announcements about which if any of the seniors would be returning for 2021 due to the NCAA’s announcement of allowing exceptions for a fifth season of eligibility. Past that, well, breaking news so to speak took priority over wrapping up a season that was wrapped up! In a way, it’s kind of a good thing that it took until mid-July to finally get around to this, because that means that we had something new to talk about regularly on this site between now and then.
Okay, so let’s start out with some basic information about the season as it played out to refresh all of our memories about what transpired. We’ll dive into various notes of things that stood out to me after that.
Wins: vs Cincinnati, vs Canisius, vs Niagara, vs Fresno State, vs Central Michigan, at Detroit Mercy
Losses: at #7 Notre Dame, at Louisville, at Arizona State, vs Ohio State
Points Leader: Caroline Steller, 40 (23G, 17A)
Goals Leader: Lydia Foust, 25
Assists Leader: Caroline Steller, 17
Ground Balls Leader: Julianna Horning, 22
Ground Balls Leader, Field Player Division: Erin Dowdle, 21
Caused Turnovers Leader: Erin Dowdle, 16
Draw Controls Leader: Emily Cooper, 63
Well, let’s just start with the easy stuff, shall we? It’s the second season in program history that ended with Marquette holding a winning record. It’s the third straight season where the Golden Eagles finished at .500 or better. It’s the fifth straight year where head coach Meredith Black guided her squad to at least six wins. While it was a 10 game season terminated long before anyone planned instead of a 17 game regular season that ended in April, I think we still have to tip our cap to Black and her staff for that list of accomplishments in year #8 of Division 1 lacrosse at Marquette.
To put it in perspective, here’s Marquette’s record through 10 games in their first seven seasons:
2-8, 5-5, 5-5, 3-7, 3-7, 6-4, 6-4
Growing a program from literally nothing is hard! Congrats all around to Black for generating a stabilized lacrosse team that keeps punching out the same results. We were incredibly spoiled by what Joe Amplo was doing in his first few years with the men’s lacrosse team, but the slow constant progress of Black’s team is the much more reasonable result to expect.
I’m going to be honest with you here. I was surprised to find out that Caroline Steller led the team in points this season, and was also surprised to see Lydia Foust on the top of the goals chart. I think I have an explanation for my surprise, though. See, Megan Menzuber tied Claire Costanza’s program record for points in a game in what turned out to be Marquette’s regular season finale, and she did that by breaking the record for goals that was held by Grace Gabriel (x5!), Charlotte McGuire, and Julianna Shearer. Thus, the last memory of the season that I generated was “OMG SO MANY MEGAN MENZUBER GOALS AND POINTS!” And yet, even with that seven goal/three assist outing, Steller still slapped together two goals and three assists of her own. That’s how she maintained a one goal lead over Menzuber in that column, a two assist lead over there, and thus a three point lead overall.
That’s a heck of a season for both women, although I think it’s safe to say that we expected something like this from Menzuber but not Steller. In 18 games with two starts a year ago, Steller had just 17 points on 15 goals and two assists. Eight more goals and nearly nine times as many assists in eight fewer games is a crazy jump up for the Pennsylvania native, but someone was always going to have to step into the offensive void left behind by the 2019 seniors. It’s great to see Steller take full advantage of being inserted into the starting lineup full time.
Speaking of taking advantage of opportunities, let’s chat about Lydia Foust. She wasn’t even a full-time starter in 2020, earning that spot in just six of MU’s 10 games. However, she’s the one that goes into the record book as MU’s leading goal scorer for the season after finding the back of the net 25 times. It was a close battle for that top spot with Steller, Menzuber, and Shea Garcia (22 goals) taking a run at it with multiple goal outings in the season finale. However, Foust tacked on three more of her own to remain atop the pile. That game against Detroit Mercy gave Foust at least a hat trick in each of MU’s final four games of the season and six of the final seven. It would have taken a ferocious final charge for her to catch up to Grace Gabriel’s record for goals in a season of 59, but Foust was on track to end up with one of the five best goals seasons in MU history. The California native was a sophomore in 2020 and came off the bench for 16 appearances in 2019. She had just four goals as a freshman, so this was one heck of a job by Foust to emphatically shove herself into Marquette’s offensive picture.
You shouldn’t be surprised by Erin Dowdle tearing it up for the Golden Eagles on the defensive end. I figured she was on the verge of being named to the preseason all-conference team by way of her Second Team inclusion at the end of 2019. In addition to the Illinois native already racking up impressive performances before this season, she had to step up a little bit extra this year. Jocelyn Miller represented Marquette on the preseason all-Big East squad, but she also missed the middle four games of the season. That provided a little extra opportunity for Dowdle to stand tall and she did exactly that. She was on pace to post top 10 in program history marks in both ground balls and caused turnovers, and you can’t really ask much more from your defensive leader.
Some credit for Marquette’s 6-4 record on the year has to be handed to Emily Cooper. Averaging 6.3 draw controls per game is no small feat. That had her on pace to become the second Golden Eagle to record 100 draw controls in a season, and honestly, the second to record more than 83 in a season. Grace Gabriel did it in 2018 and 2019, so Cooper would have been able to give MU a triple digit draw control star for the third straight season. Replacing Gabriel all over the field was always going to be a major issue for Marquette in 2020, and Cooper was doing more than her fair share to get that done in the circle.
We’re going to wrap up with a discussion of the seniors that are returning for a fifth year in 2021 and then give a farewell to the seniors who have had their career end. MU has already announced that Bridget Danko, Erin Dowdle, Jules Horning, and Megan Menzuber will be back next spring for the Golden Eagles. Having Dowdle return in the back and Menzuber again up front will have a major impact on what Black will be able to do with her roster in 2021. Whatever the ceiling was going to be, it’s a little bit higher with just those two on the field. Horning provides an experienced voice in the locker room and in the cage. Having her back again isn’t quite as big of a deal as Dowdle and Menzuber as Black was already splitting goalie time between Horning and Sophia Leva this past year. We’ll see how that storyline plays out in the spring. Danko appeared in just 18 games in four years at Marquette, so I don’t think she’s going to see a huge jump up in playing time as a fifth-year senior. However, it’s her option to return to school and go through another campaign, and if she’s up for the deal, then I’m happy to see her take the field with her teammates.
Marquette didn’t have any redshirt juniors opting to leave after 2020 came to an end, which means we only bid farewell to Logan Dobratz and Kaitlyn Viviano. Both women were fifth year seniors in 2020, so it’s not surprising to see them turn down a sixth season. In addition to that, both women were making recoveries from major injuries to take the field in 2020, and they’re more than entitled to make whatever decision is best for them right now. Dobratz appeared in nine of MU’s 10 games, coming off the bench for all nine, and she chipped in three goals and an assist. Viviano was a 10 game starter on defense as expected with her return to action in 2020. She snared just two ground balls, but was credited with seven caused turnovers in 10 games, and that’s pretty good stuff.
We want to give a big Anonymous Eagle THANK YOU to Logan Dobratz and Kaitlyn Viviano for everything that they’ve done for Marquette women’s lacrosse in the past five years. College career are always so short, even for two women who spent an extra year on campus due to their injuries. However, it’s important to think about what Dobratz and Viviano signed up for and what they contributed. Their first year on MU’s campus was just year #4 of Division 1 lacrosse in Milwaukee, and thanks to the recruiting calendar, they were getting involved with a program that was really still in its infancy. All of that long term slow growth and development of the program that we talked about earlier? Dobratz and Viviano were here for a lot of that, and we are thankful for every early morning workout, every tough practice, every moment of cheering on their teammates, and every second that they played wearing the blue and gold. They fought to make the program better every day, all the way to the point where they pushed through rehab to get on the field and contribute to Marquette lacrosse one more time. That’s all incredible stuff to witness, and we thank them for it, and wish them the absolute best in whatever comes next.