Who’s ready for Marquette women’s lacrosse?
Well, you need to be patient. The Golden Eagles don’t actually start until they host Cincinnati on Saturday. However, that means that we’ve got a little bit more time to do some season previewing! We’ve already talked about the returning players on the roster as well as how the newcomers fit in around them. Today we’re going to talk about three big questions, maybe the biggest questions facing Marquette as they head into the 2022 season.
QUESTION #1: How many offensive issues does Kyra LaMotte solve for head coach Meredith Black?
Megan Menzuber: A team high 40 goals, 15 assists, and a team high 55 points. Caroline Steller: 37 goals, a team high 16 assists, 53 points. Lindsey Hill: 14 goals, 13 assists, 27 points. Madison Kane: 11 goals, 8 assists, 19 points.
Four seniors no longer on MU’s roster. That’s 48% of Marquette’s goals from last year that have departed, 58% of the assists, and 51% of the total offensive points. Three of the six women with at least 25 points, two of the four with at least 20 goals, all three of the top assist spots on the scoresheet.
It’s a lot, to say the least.
Enter attacker Kyra LaMotte, a 5’11” grad transfer from Furman. Last year, in 17 games, she scored 60 goals. That’s over 3.5 per game, and just to drive the point home, that would be one more goal than Marquette’s all time single season record.
I think it’s safe to say that LaMotte will be going straight into the starting lineup for the Golden Eagles this season. It’s probably also a safe bet that the Marquette coaching staff is going to be asking LaMotte to do a lot of scoring for them in 2022.
The big question in my view is how much of an impact does LaMotte have on everyone else around her? Marquette needs to replace nearly half of their 214 goals from last season. Even if LaMotte scores 60 again, that’s not going to fix the departure of over 100 goals. Other people are going to have to score, and that’s where LaMotte might actually be more valuable.
Not because she’s a passing wizard, she’s really not, or at least Furman never asked her to be one. LaMotte’s gravitational pull, the desire for defenders to sell out to stop her or to cheat towards her, might actually be her biggest contribution this season, even if she does break Grace Gabriel’s goals record. If LaMotte’s ability to put into the net makes it easier for Shea Garcia to score, if LaMotte helps free up shooting lanes for Hannah Greving, if LaMotte on attack frees up Lydia Foust to play both midfield ends effectively instead of needing to tilt towards offense to keep that side of the game humming, etc. etc., etc., you get the idea.
LaMotte was clearly brought it to score goals for Marquette. How much better she makes everyone else might end up being the difference between a good and a great season for the Golden Eagles.
QUESTION #2: How is Marquette going to approach their goaltending?
For the first time since 2017, Marquette heads into a season without a goalkeeper who started at least one game for them in a previous season. Sarah Priem had wrapped up her four year career the season before, and the starts ended up being split down the middle between Molly Grozier and Jules Horning that year. Horning has been on the team ever since and over the last two years she slowly ceded the starting netminder position to Sophia Leva.
But Leva and Horning have both departed now, leaving Delaney Friel as the only returning goalie on Marquette’s roster. Friel has played just 12 and a half minutes in her entire Marquette career to this point, but that can largely just be attributed to Leva and Horning being there to vacuum up the minutes. Is Friel a quality option in the net, just one that had two better options in front of her?
The addition of grad transfer Amanda Rumsey from Butler certainly makes it look like the coaching staff’s answer to the Friel question is “no.” The problem with just handing the net to Rumsey is that her stats from her time with the Bulldogs… are… not…. great. Butler as a team struggled to win games and that tends to make the goalie look not so good statistically speaking. Is Rumsey a victim of a less than stellar defensive corps in front of her for four seasons and can she do what Meredith Black needs from her for the Golden Eagles to rack up wins? Can the addition of recent Ohio State goalie Jill Rizzo to the coaching staff make a big difference here?
There’s also the question of whether the coaching staff wants to split goaltending time like they did with Leva and Horning or stick with one goalie the whole way through. If they’re leaning towards splitting time, does that open the door for freshman Brynna Nixon to grab some minutes? If so, how long before Nixon just takes the position as hers since Rumsey will only be here for one year and Friel is in her fourth year of eligibility? How much does all of that factor into the calculations that the coaching staff is making for the position?
QUESTION #3: How will the game changing from halves to quarters affect the Golden Eagles?
Back in July, the NCAA approved several rule changes for women’s lacrosse, but the biggest one relative to how the game is played is switching the game from two 30 minute halves to four 15 minutes quarters. It’s still the same 60 minutes of lacrosse, but now it’s dispersed differently.
The biggest and most obvious change to things is the mere existence of two extra draws in the game to start the second and fourth quarters. To go along with that, there’s also the fact that every game now has two more spots where possession will end no matter what when the quarter ends. With the first part of this, being a team that’s really good at winning draws just got a little bit more valuable since there’s two more draws that exist in the game no matter what the score is.
The second part is maybe the more interesting part of switching women’s lacrosse to quarters. Before this season, you started the first half, and then things kept on going til halftime. How will that looming horn after 15 minutes affect the urgency of teams to make plays on offense? It used to be you just played and lacrosse happened and that was that. Now you have to be mindful of the clock once you get past the 12 or 13 minute mark relative to your own offense as well as what happens when you make a stop or force a turnover as perhaps you try to go 2-for-1.
There’s other possible wrinkles, including ones that don’t pop to mind immediately. What difference will getting a free timeout in the middle of each half make for teams? A two minute stoppage for coaches to reset their teams midway through each half might make a notable tactical difference. Do teams play a more up tempo style because they know that break is coming in the middle? The teams that have kicked this ball around the most in the office between July and now are the ones that have a head start at figuring these things out. Not only do they have a head start there, but they’ll be the ones most prepared to adjust once they actually see what happens with live games under the new rules.