The 2020 campaign was cut short following the Golden Eagles moving to 6-4 on the year with a 23-12 victory over Detroit Mercy on March 11th, and it’s been a long wait for this schedule. I understand the circumstances of scheduling through a pandemic as well as figuring out facility availability with men’s and women’s soccer throughout the country, but the fact of the matter is that the 2020 schedule was announced on the previous November 13th..... and today is January 19th, less than a month before the games actually start.
The 2021 schedule has a lot in common with slates from previous campaigns, but it also has a brand new wrinkle to it. Let’s drop the schedule in early here so everyone can use it as a visual aid while we discuss it.
2021 Marquette Women’s Lacrosse Schedule
|Sun., Feb. 14||at Cincinnati||12:00 PM|
|Sun., Feb. 21||Notre Dame||11:00 AM|
|Sat., Feb. 27||at Kent State||12:00 PM|
|Fri., Mar. 5||at Central Michigan||1:00 PM|
|Sun., Mar. 14||Louisville||11:00 AM|
|Fri., Mar. 19||Connecticut||3:00 PM|
|Sun., Mar. 21||Connecticut||12:00 PM|
|Fri., Mar. 26||at Villanova||TBD|
|Sun., Mar. 28||at Villanova||TBD|
|Fri., Apr. 9||at Georgetown||3:00 PM|
|Sun., Apr. 11||at Georgetown||12:00 PM|
|Fri., Apr. 16||Denver||3:00 PM|
|Sun., Apr. 18||Denver||1:00 PM|
|Fri., Apr. 23||at Butler||3:00 PM|
|Sun., Apr. 25||at Butler||12:00 PM|
So, first things first. Marquette has five non-conference opponents on deck this year, and the Golden Eagles have played four of them regularly through the still short history of the program. Two of them — Cincinnati and Notre Dame — have appeared on every single Marquette schedule, while Louisville has been on MU’s board in seven of their previous eight seasons of competition. Central Michigan has only been an opponent for Marquette for five seasons, but it’s been each of the last five seasons and for every season that the Chippewas have been a Division 1 program. The fifth and final foe before Big East play starts is Kent State, and Marquette has never played them before..... mostly because this is just their third year as a program.
That brings us to Big East play, and if you’re saying “hey, that seems like a very short non-conference schedule,” you’re right. Marquette usually plays a much longer list of non-conference foes because Marquette usually plays a five game Big East schedule. That’s not the case this season, as the league has opted to go to.... well, it’s not a double round-robin schedule, not really, because that would involve a home game and a road game in each series. Each Big East team will face the other five teams in the league twice this season, but each pairing of games will be done in the same weekend in the same location.
As you can see from the schedule, Marquette starts Big East play with home dates against Connecticut on March 19th and March 21st. Both games will be in Milwaukee, and the Golden Eagles do not go to Storrs this season. So on and so forth for the rest of the season, some at home, some on the road. You’ll note that Marquette gets the short end of the stick here as the Golden Eagles will play six road matches and just four home matches. If you want to find a silver lining here, it’s that Marquette’s extra weekend on the road is the last weekend of the regular season, and the Golden Eagles will be given two road games against Butler to attempt to clinch a spot in the Big East tournament. In the three game history of the series, Marquette is outscoring Butler 54-8. But hey, the Bulldogs picked up the same number of wins (5) in their COVID-shortened 2020 season as they had gathered in the first three years of the program combined, so maybe that’s a sign that MU’s domination of the series is coming to an end. We’ll see, I guess.
With the Big East scheduling two matches in a weekend in the same spot, I can’t help but look at MU’s aim in the non-conference section of the schedule. Usually it’s Marquette playing two games in a weekend, or at least relatively quickly near each other, in non-conference play, and then going to a once a week slate when conference play starts. Instead, MU will play just one non-conference game a week. This is probably for the same reason as the league scheduling two game weekends: It’s safer for the team to make sure everyone passes a COVID test, travel out for one game, and then come home instead of staying out on the road for a second game. Or it’s safer to bring just one foe to Valley Fields as opposed to doubling your exposure with two teams making the trip to Milwaukee. If the non-conference games get scuttled, then the doubled up Big East slate helps make sure that teams have the necessary games played to earn entry to the NCAA tournament.
You can check out Marquette’s press release on the schedule here and the full schedule — which notes that all home games will be streamed on GoMarquette.com as fans will not be allowed to attend as of this moment — can be found here.