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Marquette Women’s Lacrosse Preview: vs Kent State

The Golden Eagles play their first game at home since the season opener when they host the Golden Flashes.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 03 NIU at Kent State Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

So the Big Question is who exactly is going to be available for head coach Meredith Black and Marquette women’s lacrosse on Saturday.

It seems likely that Hannah Greving and Leigh Steiner will be out again as they haven’t played since the Northwestern game. Lydia Foust and Emma Soccodato were out of action for both of last weekend’s contests, but five full days have gone by since MU’s loss to Niagara. With the Canisius and Niagara games so close together, it’s not unreasonable to think that a minor injury would keep both women out for both games. If it was a minor injury, maybe they’re back for this Saturday’s game.

Or maybe they are sidelined with long term injuries, and this is — here’s that dreaded phrase — the new normal for Marquette for the rest of the season. With Shea Garcia and Kyra LaMotte, the Golden Eagles have a solid 1-2 punch on the offensive end. The problem is that with those four injuries that we just mentioned, Garcia and LaMotte, along with Mary Schumar, are now playing with essentially an entire rotation of supporting characters that they haven’t been practicing with all season up until last week. That’s not super great for coherence and flow and team unity and all of those kinds of words. Given the kind of precision that is required from lacrosse in passing terms, playing with unfamiliar teammates can be a problem.

At least in the short term. Whatever Black and her staff have decided as the new First Line on offense, they’ve had a week to prepare for Kent State. That’s the good news. Lots of drills, lots of practice, lots of scrimmage situations, and so on. Hopefully that’s built up a familiarity that perhaps was the problem with the offense’s shortcomings last Sunday against Niagara. If nothing else — and we’ll get into it a little bit more in a minute — Saturday’s opponent in theory offers Marquette a chance to figure out exactly what they need to be doing to get going in a positive direction.

Game #8: vs Kent State Golden Flashes (2-6)

Date: Saturday, March 12, 2022
Time: 3pm Central
Location: Andy Glockner Memorial Bubble, Valley Fields, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Streaming: Marquette Athletics on YouTube
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWLax

Marquette is 1-0 all time against Kent State. The only meeting between the two teams came last season when the Golden Eagles doubled up the Golden Flashes 19-8 in Ohio.

Kent State’s season has been a win sandwich. You name sandwiches after what’s in the middle, and both of their wins have come directly in between three losses on either end. A narrow 11-10 home loss to Butler — yes, the Butler picked to finish dead last in the Big East — started their year, and they followed that up with losses to Duquesne and Akron, with the latter coming as their first road game of the year as well as their first conference game of the year. Then they went on a road jaunt to the Carolinas and came back with narrow wins over Presbyterian and Wofford to move to 2-3 on the season.

They have not won since, falling 11-8 at home to Robert Morris and at home to Cincinnati — yes, the same Cincinnati that Marquette beat — by a margin of 17-11. Their most recent contest was on Thursday afternoon as they fell to 0-3 in the MAC with a 20-6 loss to Central Michigan. The Chippewas took a 6-0 lead on their home field in the first 11 minutes of that one and never looked back.

I think it’s important to point out at at this juncture that Kent State was picked to finish fourth in the MAC. This is notable because Detroit Mercy was picked to finish last in the MAC. You may remember Detroit Mercy from the 22-9 win that Marquette picked up over the Titans earlier this season. Obviously we don’t have a game between KSU and UDM to measure against, but it should give you an idea of where Marquette slots in the picture of things relative to the Golden Flashes.

Kent State has a trio of double digit scorers already this season. Kenzie Sklar leads the way with 18 goals, while Jackie Wolford is right behind her with 16. Megan Kozar is the third part of the group with 11 goals. It’s interesting to note that none of these women have started all eight games for the Golden Flashes this season. Wolford is the closest with seven starts in KSU’s eight matches, and we should point out that all three have played in all eight contests.

Abby Jones has started all eight games for Kent State, and she’s #3 on the team in shots, which has turned into nine goals for her, but she’s also the team leader in assists. She has eight helpers on the year, missing out on adding one to her total in the first and most recent game. Jones has twice as many assists as anyone else on the team while being one of just two women with more than one assists, and she’s accounted for exactly half of their assists on the season. I’m not saying that cutting her view of the field off is going to go a long way towards derailing the KSU offense, but it certainly seems like it will turn it into even more of a 1-on-1 game for the Marquette defense.

Madison Flanagan has started in net for all eight games this season and she’s played all but 83 minutes. One of the games she was pulled from was the Central Michigan game earlier this week, departing after giving up seven goals in just over 13 minutes. If that was merely a “she doesn’t have it” change, then it stands to reason that she’ll start against Marquette again. If that was an injury sub, then we’ll most likely see someone different. The 5’8” junior is stopping over 45% of shots on goal this season, so that’s pretty good, and even with that bad stretch against the Chippewas on her record, she’s still allowing just 12.76 goals per 60 minutes of action. While they may be -36 in goal differential so far this season, Kent State is only getting outshot by eight or nine swings a game. Quality looks at the net will be the most important task for the Golden Eagles’ offense.