We are approaching the start of the 2022 Marquette women’s lacrosse season! We’d better get started on doing some season previewing, huh?
Let’s start with some important things to remember from last season.
- Marquette went 7-9 overall with a record of 4-6 in Big East play
- The Golden Eagles went into the final weekend of conference action with a hope to get into the Big East tournament, and picked up the two wins over Butler that they needed.... but did not get the help elsewhere in the league standings to make that happen
- MU had splits with both Villanova and Georgetown, both on the road, and lost one goal games against both Connecticut and #19 Denver for four of their six losses against Big East foes
- Megan Menzuber led the team in both goals (40) and points (55)
- Caroline Steller led the team in assists with 16
- Erin Dowdle led all Golden Eagles in ground balls (38) and caused turnovers (21)
- Marquette had 15 seniors on the roster thanks in part to four players returning for the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA due to the 2020 season getting shut down in the middle due to the pandemic
- Those 15 seniors include both of MU’s top two scorers and four of the six women who tallied at least 20 points
- It also includes all three women who gathered at least 20 ground balls
- And two of the three women who had at least 10 caused turnovers
- And three of the five women who had at least 10 draw controls, including Emily Cooper who led the team with 96
- And both Sophia Leva and Julianna Horning who combined to play every single minute in net
That 15 seniors part is probably the most impactful part of all of that. I’m probably going to say some version of “Marquette is going to need multiple someones to step up in this department this year” repeatedly as we go through this rundown of who’s returning for head coach Meredith Black, so just be ready for that.
Let’s dive in, shall we? As always, we start with attackers and move our way backwards down the field.....
We begin our discussion of MU’s returning players this season with Shea Garcia. The 5’5” New York native played in 15 of MU’s 16 games a year ago with five starts, but that doesn’t fully describe her impact on the offense. She ended up fourth on the team in points with 30, getting there on 20 goals and 10 assists. Garcia is second amongst returning players in points, third in goals, and tied for the team lead in assists. She was also second last year amongst regular rotation players in terms of shooting percentage, getting 54% of her shots past opposing goalies. I’m not expecting her to keep that up here in Year Four with the Golden Eagles, since that was her career best and she’s going to have to a lot more heavy lifting this year, but it’s nice to see. On a career note: Garcia starts the season just four points from 100 and 29 goals away from the century mark as well. She’ll be the 12th Golden Eagle to score 100 points, and has a shot to become the sixth with 100 goals. Garcia is also ninth all time in program history in assists, although matching her career best of 10 would only move her to seventh.
Hannah Greving is most likely going to play a big part for the Golden Eagles this season. The 6-footer from Illinois tallied 21 goals for the Golden Eagles as a sophomore last year which was good enough for fourth on the team and now second best amongst returning players. Only one assist, though, so Greving has to settle for being just fourth amongst returning players in points after putting up 22. She’s the player that beat out Garcia for the top spot amongst returning rotation players in shooting percentage last year, netting nearly 57% of her shots with over 83% coming on frame. She’s now MU’s #2 attacker, though, so I would expect a bit of a drop in the accuracy since she’s probably going to have to shoot more. Fellow junior Mary Schumar might make a big impact this year as well. She went for 10 goals and three assists last season while appearing in every game but one and starting twice. It doesn’t sound like much, but when you’re one of five women returning who had double digit goals last season, then you’re set up to have your number called a lot.
Believe it or not, that’s it for experienced depth in the attacking corps. Kaitlyn Sydnor and Elle Wagner were both freshmen a year ago and did not see action. Lauren Shaw is a senior now, but she has played in just four games in her career and none of them were last season. Given the number of seniors that departed, I would hazard a guess that the coaching staff is going to rely on at least one of this trio to step up into a notable role this season.
Marquette’s midfield is, in terms of returning players, more stable than the attack. Here we have two returning starters in Lydia Foust and Emma Soccodato as well as every game rotation figure Leigh Steiner and more often than not contributor Samantha Galvin.
Foust is the big name on the board here as she is leading Marquette’s returning players in both goals (28) and points (34) and ground balls (17). In three seasons, the California native has gone from “rotation player” to “sometimes starter” to “primary core scorer”. It is possible that this season may require her to take the leap to “go-to scorer.” It’s going to come down to whether the MU coaching staff likes Foust in her current role on the team, or if the best thing for the team as a whole is for Foust to do even more than she already was. It’s kind of the same dilemma that faced the Marquette volleyball coaching staff with Hope Werch. She’s clearly a very good to great player, but if you have her focus on being great at one thing, you have to wonder how much you lose by not having her do a little bit of everything very well.
I don’t want to call Soccodato’s 2021 campaign disappointing, because that feels very mean. But while taking the jump from “four starts in 10 games in 2020” to “every match starter in 2021,” all playing in six more matches did for her statistically speaking is add five goals and an assist for a total of nine and three respectively. Now, if she’s playing because she’s really good on defense and can handle her side of the business on offense, that’s fine. It just seems like she should have generated more points than 12 in 16 games while starting every time.
Steiner played in every one of Marquette’s 16 games last season and ended up with eight starts. She also ended up averaging over a goal per game with 17 on the season, and added 10 assists to end up in a tie with Shea Garcia for the most amongst returning players. Steiner also ended up leading MU’s freshmen last year in goals, assists, and points, although we should probably point out that she was a redshirt freshman who didn’t play at all in 2020. Steiner is also second on the team amongst returning players in draw controls with 12 last season. There’s open spots in the rotation for people who can win draws for the Golden Eagles, and right now, you’d have to figure that Steiner is towards the front of the line there.
I’m not quite sure what to make of Samantha Galvin, who appeared in 12 games last season as a freshman. That’s good, of course. She ended up tallying three goals on the year, which is fine. The fact that she did it on just three shots leads us to the possibility that maybe she should have been shooting more while playing in 12 of MU’s final 14 games of the season. Obviously, she can’t keep that up, and it seems pretty clear that Galvin wasn’t really looking all that much at the net last season, not entirely unlike Emma Soccodato. The Golden Eagles need scorers this year, though, and if Galvin’s 3-for-3 is a proof of concept of her ability to put it in the net, MU has to make use of that.
MU has a bunch of depth in the midfield behind those four, but not very much in terms of experienced depth. Caroline Blandford is a senior with 13 career appearances and four of them coming last season. Josie Kropp played in five games as a freshman last season. Carrie Froemming’s appearance against Kent State last season gave her three games played in two seasons. Kelsey Koch played in two games as a freshman last season. Aubrey McLaren didn’t get on the field last year, but she appeared in one game as a freshman in 2020. Logic suggests that Kropp might be the one closest to earning a big role on the team, but any one of these women could suddenly jump forward this year.
Marquette’s defense might be interesting to figure out this season. At a glance, it seems like Meredith Black has three obvious returning options for starters: Ellie Henry, Kate Pearson, and Audrey Brett. Henry played and started in 15 of MU’s 16 games last season while just barely missing out on averaging a ground ball (14) and a caused turnover (13) per game. She is Marquette’s leading returner in draw controls after 23 last season, so I think it stands to reason that Henry will be asked to do more of that this season. Pearson started each of Marquette’s first eight games before missing the rest of the season with a knee injury. If she’s good to go to start this season, you could easily expect to see her back in the lineup on Day 1. Brett appeared in all 16 games last season, making her the only true freshman to pull that off, and she started nine times including in her second ever collegiate game. 15 ground balls is pretty decent, and her nine caused turnovers aren’t too bad, either. I feel it’s safe to bet that Brett will be one of MU’s defensive starters right away this year.
Generally speaking, though, that leaves Marquette with one defensive starter spot left unfilled. Who’s going to get that fourth spot? Well, that’s a fantastic question. Maria Mulvihill might be a prime candidate to get into the lineup, as she appeared in all 10 games in 2020 and started four.... but she only played in three games last season. I suspect the gigantic shoulder brace that she’s clearly wearing in the picture on her bio page miiiiiiight have something to do with the sudden drop off. If she’s back to 100%, then that’s pretty good for Marquette, but that’s an if that we’ll have to wait to fully unravel. Faith Chmielewski appeared in nine games last season to lead the way amongst the bench crew that is returning..... and then things get kind of iffy from there. Senior Rebecca Cappaert saw action in four games last year, as did sophomore Kaitlyn Huber. Colleen Graham made her collegiate debut as a freshman against Kent State last year, but that was her only action of the season. Jasmine Marval and Molly Powers were both freshmen last season and neither one made it into a game.
We should probably go ahead and wedge Mary Blee in here, too. The 5’9” Maryland native is the only returning player with a split position designation, as Marquette lists her at Midfield/Defense. As such, I’m not 100% clear what group to put her in, and I didn’t want to make a separate section just for her. She appeared in eight games last season, picking up a ground ball and recording seven draw controls. That puts Blee into a tie with Lydia Foust for third on the team amongst returning players at winning draws, so that’s a potential path forward onto the field for her.
In terms of returning minutes, goalkeeper is the biggest problem spot on the Marquette roster. The Golden Eagles have a grand total of zero minutes played in the 2021 season coming back for 2022. Seniors Sophia Leva and Julianna Horning played every minute last season.
That doesn’t mean Marquette doesn’t have any returning goalies, though. They have one. Delaney Friel is a senior with four career appearances, two each in 2019 and 2020, for a total of 12 minutes and 36 seconds. For reasons that we will get into in our Newcomers article, I am not quite sure that Friel has anything resembling an inside track to a large chunk of minutes this season. However, head coach Meredith Black started tilting towards splitting time in the net over the past two seasons. If that’s a system that she wants to keep going forward, then that’s going to most likely require Friel to take up at least half of the rotation. If the coaches — which now includes former Ohio State goalie Jill Rizzo — are more comfortable with one woman getting the majority of minutes, then I would lean towards one of the two new goalies on the roster getting that spot.