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Marquette Women’s Lacrosse Preview: vs Central Michigan

The Golden Eagles return to Milwaukee after coming up empty on their West Coast swing.

Oklahoma State v Central Michigan Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

This Marquette women’s lacrosse season is starting to turn into a mess, I think.

Things maybe kind of already went a little sideways when Leigh Steiner and Hannah Greving went down for the year in Game #2 of the campaign. They went through a three game skid including and after that one, but bounced back to get to 3-3 on the season. Since then, though, Marquette has won just one of their next four contests, and the one was against a very clearly wildly overmatched Kent State team.

That leaves the Golden Eagles at 4-6 on the year with just one non-conference game left before Big East play starts. 4-6, losses in three of the last four, and coming off back-to-back games where Marquette’s top three scorers — Shea Garcia, Mary Schumar, and Kyra LaMotte — have been held to just three goals and one assist combined. That’s 101 points in 10 games, 10.1 per game combined on the season…… but just two per game in the last two between the three of them.

When you’re already down two of your biggest scoring components, you can’t be having power outages on the top of your scoresheet. Now you’re looking around at your sixth and seventh options from when the season started and saying “hey, you’ve got to get us some goals because Shea and Mary and Kyra are getting bottled up.” That’s not a good way to go through things, and that’s showing in the loss column.

Meanwhile, as if you couldn’t put the puzzle pieces together, Marquette’s defense isn’t helping matters. Lacrosse Reference rates the Golden Eagles as the #87 defense in the country in terms of efficiency, thinking of it as a percentage of possessions that turn into goals….. and there’s only 118 Division 1 teams. That’s actually a worse efficiency than MU’s offense at the moment, which is up at #63.

Now, maybe the good news for Marquette is that they’re kind of clumped into a group in the Big East with Georgetown and Villanova when you look at LaxRef’s overall team rankings, and they’re a decent chunk of space away from Butler. Maybe that means that whatever is working for MU is going to work in league play when that starts next week, and there Will be a way to get into the Big East tournament.

But it would probably be a pretty good idea to play some pretty good looking lacrosse this weekend to get one final tune-up on the board before then, too.

Game #11: vs Central Michigan Chippewas (5-5, 3-1 MAC)

Date: Sunday, March 27, 2022
Time: Noon Central
Location: Andy Glockner Memorial Bubble, Valley Fields, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Streaming: MUTV on YouTube
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWLax

Marquette is 5-2 all time against Central Michigan. The Golden Eagles took the first three encounters starting in 2016 before the two sides have split the last four meetings. In fact, the two teams had the rarity of a home-and-home series last year, with each team winning on their own field.

Central Michigan certainly has a weird set of circumstances this season. They came out of their first two games of the year with two losses by a combined margin of 30 goals. Not great, even with 19 of those coming in a 24-5 loss to then-#5 Notre Dame. Then they won three straight games, including against Big East foe Butler, 16-11, and an 18-6 win over the Detroit Mercy squad that MU beat 22-9. That was followed by a not-really-as-close-as-it-looks 17-13 loss to then-#8 Michigan where they trailed 16-7 heading into the fourth quarter and then a stomping of the same Kent State team that Marquette stomped down on as well.

Then they got squeezed twice, first 17-16 by Robert Morris in a league game, and then 12-11 by the Cincinnati squad that Marquette beat in the season opener. Finally, CMU comes into Sunday’s action off a 13-7 mid-week home against against Akron, and that one was the reverse of the Michigan game. Central Michigan led 12-2 with 11:06 left in the third quarter and 12-3 at the start of the fourth.

Even with those shellings to start the year, Central Michigan finds themselves on the positive side of the ledger in goals right now. They’re +13 in goal differential, and considering they started out the year -30 after two games, that’s actually really good. That’s the kind of thing you accomplish with multiple scoring options, and that’s exactly what CMU has. They have only one player — Maggie Diebold — scoring more than two goals a game on average. Diebold is up at 29 goals on the season, so she’s nearly at a hat trick per outing through 10 games played. That’s a little bit elevated after putting up six against Akron, but 23 through 9 games is still more than two per game.

Audrey Whiteside and Courtney Burke also deserve attention on the defensive end, as they’ve both contributed 18 goals so far this season. Kendall Hoyt isn’t far behind at 17, and sister Kelly isn’t far off the pace at 14 goals in nine appearances. Whiteside and Burke might actually be the keys to the offense, even with Diebold throwing in the goals. Whiteside has 18 of CMU’s 51 assists on the season, and Burke has added 10 more of them. That’s more than half their helpers from just those two women, so limiting what they can do with the ball, pass or shoot, will be important.

I’m pretty sure we’re going to see Alexa Martel in goal for Central Michigan. The freshman from New York has appeared in seven of CMU’s games so far including the final 11 minutes and change of the Cincinnati game and all of the Akron game. The Chippewas were down 11-8 when the change from Erin Owens to Martel was made against Cincinnati, and then Martel started and went the distance against the Zips. That sounds an awful to me like an injury to Owens that necessitated the change. Could be wrong, especially with Martel getting a start against Louisville and getting pulled after giving up 10 goals in 18 minutes. Either way, Marquette is going to get a chance to put shots past the Central Michigan goalie. Both Martel and Owens have a save percentage south of 39% to this point of the season.