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Marquette Women’s Lacrosse Preview: at Canisius & at Niagara

The Golden Eagles head to upstate New York for the weekend for a pair of games less than 25 miles apart.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 09 MAAC Conference Women’s Tournament - Monmouth v Canisius Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The good news about last week Friday afternoon is that Marquette women’s lacrosse did what they absolutely needed to do: Ruin Detroit Mercy’s entire weekend.

The Golden Eagles jumped out to a 6-1 lead on the Titans in the first 11 minutes of the game and never really had to worry about very much the rest of the way as they won 22-9. There were reasonable questions to be asked about how the offense was functioning after the loss of Leigh Steiner and Hannah Greving to injuries during the Northwestern game, and it would appear that all things have been ironed out.

Well, at the very least, getting to hammer Detroit Mercy’s net over and over got the Golden Eagles running as a smooth operation together. There’s reason to believe [glances at UDM’s schedule and goal differential] that Marquette’s performance may have had more to do with the Titans than it did with Marquette getting on the same page all of a sudden. The mere exercise of MU’s offensive parts playing together without having to worry too much about the end result of the game is going to pay the Golden Eagles a lot of dividends as the season goes along. The fact that it all worked to the tune of a pair of five point days for Lydia Foust and Kyra LaMotte and an eight point outing for Shea Garcia is almost not the point of the endeavor.

It didn’t hurt that MU only had to pay attention to the one game last weekend, too. No worry about a second game coming around the bend on Sunday, no after affect of their performance on Friday looming behind them two days later. One game, one game prep, bang, zoom, in and out, moving on. That changes this weekend as Marquette will have to turn around for a second game less than 48 hours later, but there’s a benefit this time. MU’s two games are within 30 miles of each other up in the Buffalo area. They’ll travel just once, stay there for the weekend, play twice, and then come home. Road trips are never fun, especially when you have to move around a great deal in a short amount of time, but that’s not a problem for the Golden Eagles here. Is that going to help them come home with two wins? Hard to say for certain, but it’ll certainly be less fatiguing.

Game #6: at Canisius Golden Griffins (4-0)

Date: Friday, March 4, 2022
Time: 3pm Central
Location: Demske Sports Complex, Buffalo, New York
Streaming: Doesn’t look like it, which stinks. Maybe
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWLax

Marquette is 2-0 all time against Canisius. The two squads met in 2019 and 2020 with the Golden Eagles getting the W once in Buffalo and once in Milwaukee.

Here’s what we know for sure about the Golden Griffins: You can’t be better than 4-0 through four games. Even better than that, Canisius went 3-0 in three straight road games to start the season before beating Pitt, 12-10, in the home opener last Sunday. Now, you might be saying “hey, wait, they beat first year program Pitt by just two goals? That doesn’t sound good!” That’s a valid point! In fact, they trailed 7-6 with about 22 minutes to play! But the Panthers are actually 3-2 in their first season of competition after starting off with three straight wins to start the campaign. They might be better you’d think for a first year team, and their ACC schedule is absolutely not going to help their record at the end of the year.

But this is a Canisius preview, and the point is that they’re still undefeated after rallying to beat a very frisky Pitt team. Even better than that, they’re 4-0 under first year head coach Russell Allen. That’s already an improvement on last year’s 2-8 mark, which featured nothing but nine MAAC games and a MAAC tournament contest. I don’t know if this early season success is going to translate to MAAC success — the Griffins were picked to finish seventh in the nine team league — but it definitely can’t hurt their confidence levels, that’s for sure.

Canisius has a trio of double digit point performers through four contests this season. Paige Stachura and Caroline Netti are tied for the team lead in goals with 11, but Stachura’s four assists give her the team lead in points at 15. Netti only has one helper so far this year, so Katie Smolensky (10G, 4A) is able to slide in between those two for the #2 spot on the points chart at 14. Smolensky and Stachura are in a tie for the team lead in assists, and they share that title at the moment with Kaitlyn Salce. MU’s probably also going to have to keep an eye on Megan Hoffman, who is third on the team in shots behind Stachura and Netti. She only has six goals on 17 shots so far this year, but when you’re third on the team in attempts, then it’s clear that the offense is designed to get you some looks.

5’3” senior Shannon Maroney has played every minute in net so far this season..... and she’s going to have to keep that up. The Rocky Point, New York native is the only goaltender listed on the Canisius roster right now. I have no idea what they would do in case of an emergency of some sort. Anyway, Maroney is stopping 43% of shots on goal so far this season, which is a career best for her. That’s helping her towards a goals-against average of just 10.25 goals per 60 minutes, so we’ll see if MU can change that up a bit.

Game #7: at Niagara Purple Eagles (2-2)

Date: Sunday, March 6, 2022
Time: 11am Central
Location: Niagara Field, Niagara, New York
Streaming: ESPN+
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWLax

Marquette is 3-0 all time against Niagara. They met in three straight season between 2018 and 2020 with a contest in New York getting sandwiched by two games in Milwaukee. The last two meetings have been lopsided with Marquette winning by a combined score of 32-8.

The Purple Eagles have sandwiched their two losses this season in between their two wins in their first four games. They went 1-1 on a trip down to Florida in their first weekend of competition, and there’s nothing wrong with falling to then-#18 Jacksonville..... although I bet that they would have preferred the margin be a little bit better than 20-2, and both of those goals were scored in the first half.

This past weekend was another road trip weekend for Niagara, but it wasn’t a neat put together trip like Stetson and JU. First they went to West Point to face Army, which was a 15-9 loss, but they bounced back with a 15-10 win over Youngstown State out in Ohio on Sunday afternoon to even their record on the year.

What are we to take away from this, given that Niagara was picked to finish in fourth, a decent stretch ahead of Canisius in the MAAC preseason poll? What about the fact that NU has three preseason all-MAAC honorees in attacker Lexi Braniecki, midfielder Rachel Crane, and goalie Michelle Messenger? What about the fact that Messenger was a unanimous choice for the all-league team AND she was the Inside Lacrosse preseason pick as the defensive Player of the Year in the MAAC?

Well, we can start with the fact that Braniecki has only started two of Niagara’s games, although she has played in all four. She still has six goals on the year, third most on the team, and that ties her for the third most points so far this year as well. She put up a hat trick on both Stetson and YSU, but she was held to just one shot — and it was Free Position, too — by the Dolphins and just three by Army. Is that partially because those are the two games she didn’t start? Definitely possible.

Crane is having a fine start to the year, though. The Rochester native has scored a goal in every game this season, including getting a season high three against the Penguins last time out. That, and her lone assist on the year, puts her in second on the team in points. Junior attacker Lois Garlow is the top point gatherer so far with 12 on eight goals and four assists. She was held without a point against Jacksonville, but Garlow has had at least two goals and an assist in NU’s other three games.

Back to the “hey, what’s going on?” department we go, as Messenger has only started two games in net for the Eagles, and she didn’t play at all in the other two. More importantly, she left after 23 minutes against Jacksonville (not surprising, it was not fun), but Messenger also hasn’t played since. Jordan Roy started against Army and was relieved by Maren Geiger after 25 minutes, and then Roy went the distance against YSU. That certainly looks like Roy will be the starter on Sunday again, but who can say? Thanks to JU hammering her for 12 goals in 23 minutes, Messenger’s stats are awful: 15.79 goals-against average and .290 save percentage. Roy is a little bit better — 13.16 and .321 — but that’s not saying much. Geiger has played just over an hour so far this season, and she’s got the best numbers so far: 12.04 GAA and .417. I don’t know if head coach Wendy Stone is dealing with an injury to Messenger or just trying to win some lacrosse games, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see any of the three take the net at first draw on Sunday.