Last year, Marquette women’s lacrosse had 12 freshmen on the roster.
This year, they have 10. It seems like it’s smaller, but maybe that’s because head coach Meredith Black has four seniors returning from the 2020 roster thanks to the NCAA granting an extra year of eligibility due to the pandemic ending last year early. It’s a percentage of roster size kind of thing, I suppose. We’ll have to wait to see how many of the freshmen end up making an impact for the Golden Eagles this season. Black and her coaching staff have never been afraid of putting freshmen on the field if they’re the best player for the role, but with three of the four returning seniors playing major parts for Marquette last season, there might not be as many spots available as in years past.
Okay, let’s see what Black and her staff have available to them in their freshman class. A general note before we dive in: There is almost no notes in the official MU bios for any of these players about their 2020/senior seasons. I presume they were all cancelled due to the pandemic one way or another.
Marquette has two new attackers on the roster this season, and neither of them jumps off the page as “might be contributing immediately.” Elle Wagner (#15, 5’4”) has the official MU bio notes that make you interested, as she led her high school team in points and assists in 2018 and led in assists and was third in goals in 2019. However, Kaitlyn Sydnor (#41, 5’3”) is the one mentioned in the GoMarquette.com team preview as one of the two players “to watch off the bench and into the future at the position.” I get a little twitchy whenever I see a freshman year bio like Sydnor’s where there is absolutely no mention of the scoring ability for an attacker. But, if Black is point blank telling the official team website that Sydnor is one to watch, we have to believe her.
There’s a lot of returning talent in the midfield for Marquette this season, so cracking into the lineup might be hard for the four new freshmen midfielders..... but it looks like there’s an awful lot of talent here. Molly Powers (#42, 5’4”) looks to have the best stats coming out of high school after tallying 128 goals, 74 assists, and 251 ground balls. I do find it fascinating that MU lists her as a midfielder/defender, even with that kind of scoring touch. Josie Kropp (#11, 5’4”) was classmates with Marquette basketball freshman Dawson Garcia at Prior Lake in Minnesota, and might have taken a run at him for the most decorated athlete in the class. Five varsity letters means Kropp played as an eighth grader, and she earned three All-Minnesota First Team honors as well as All-American honors in 2019 as her team won a state title. She had 30 goals and 20 assists on that team along with 33 ground balls, 15 caused turnovers, and a team high 94 draw controls.
Kelsey Koch (#13, 5’7”) was a two-time all-conference performer at Loyola Academy in the Chicago area where she was teammates with fellow freshman Audrey Brett. Samantha Galvin (#22, 5’7”) might be the most ready to contribute immediately. She led her Maryland high school team in ground balls and draw controls in 2018, and had 75 points in 2019 while finishing second in goals and assists. Her club team, where she played with fellow freshman Kaitlyn Huber, earned a national #1 ranking in 2020, so there’s a clear experience with being a part of highly motivated and successful teams. Galvin “has impressed early” according to the official team preview, so keep an eye on her. MU doesn’t necessarily need scorers right away, so if she can scramble for ground balls and draws, then that will help her get playing time.
Trying to discern who is a good lacrosse defender coming out of high school can be kind of hard. Attack and midfield can be easy when you have a talented scorer. You can be a great defender but still not accrue stats that help point that out to the casual observer.
With that said, we have to start our discussion here with Faith Chmielewski (#39, 5’6”) because she comes with stats. She’s listed as a defender/midfielder on the roster, which probably helps explain the fact that she went for 48 goals, 29 assists, 53 ground balls, and 40 caused turnovers as a junior. Chmielewski appears to be a great athlete, earning four letters in lacrosse and soccer to go with three letters as a part of the indoor track team where she won a 4x800 meter relay county championship.
Audrey Brett (#45, 5’4”) earned All-American honors as a junior and all-Illinois honors twice during her prep career at Loyola Academy. That AA status points to why she has been impressing in practice in the early goings according to the official team preview. Brett is one of two freshmen defenders who come to Marquette with a built in teammate, as she played with Kelsey Koch at Loyola. The other is Kaitlyn Huber (#43, 5’5”), who was club teammates with Samantha Galvin on that nationally top ranked club team out of Maryland. She won a state title at Century as a freshman and was all-state honorable mention as a senior while earning four varsity letters in both lacrosse and field hockey.
That leaves Jasmine Marval (#29, 5’3”) as the only freshman defender that we haven’t talked about yet. Her Glenbrook South teams seem to have always been relevant in the Illinois state picture with a pair of top five finishes, and she was an honorable mention all-Illinois honoree during her prep career. Her official MU bio is the perfect picture of the “maybe she’s really good at the defending thing without actually logging stats” concept we were talking about at the top.