Much like Andrew Stimmel’s program next door at the PRC on North 12th Street, Marquette women’s lacrosse finds themselves going into Senior Day for the season hard pressed to get a win to clinch a Big East tournament berth before traveling to close out the regular season on the road against a ranked Denver team.
Weird how that all works out in parallel that way, isn’t it?
Meredith Black’s team seems to find themselves in a bit more advantageous situation than MU’s men’s team, though. Sunday’s opponent for her team appears to present a much more winnable game than the one that the men’s team will face on Saturday. On the other hand, the MU women will have a clear ramp up in opponent difficulty next week particularly relative to the men’s team, so that makes this weekend’s contest much more crucial for them.
Who do you have more confidence in beating: A .500 team that is also trying to scrap their way into the Big East tournament in your building on Sunday OR a top 10 team with just one loss all year in their building?
So that lends an air of importance to Sunday’s game. The good news for Marquette is that they are in a three-way tie for second place in the Big East at 2-1 right now, and more importantly, they have beaten both of the teams that are 0-3 in league play so far. At worst, Marquette is going to come out at the end of the season in a tie at 2-3 with whichever team ends up winning the regular season finale between Villanova and Butler, and the Golden Eagles still get to take the tiebreaker home on that one. Best case scenario? Both the Wildcats and the Bulldogs lose this weekend, and Marquette clinches a top four spot no matter what.
It would probably be more fun to clinch by way of a win, though, and Marquette has a prime opportunity to do just that.
Big East Game #4: vs Georgetown Hoyas (7-7, 2-1 Big East)
Marquette is 2-8 all time against Georgetown. The two teams have met in every season of MU’s existence as a program with the exception of the shortened 2020 campaign. They have played twice in both of the last two seasons where they have met, with a regular season and a Big East tournament game in 2019 and two regular season games a year ago. Both of Marquette’s wins in the series came in the first meeting in those two seasons.
Georgetown’s .500 record on the season is a little misleading. Five of their losses on the year, including their lone loss in Big East play so far, have come against teams that were ranked at the time the game was played. Three of those losses, again including their 14-12 home loss to Denver, are against teams currently in the top 10 of the Inside Lacrosse/IWLCA poll. You can’t exactly knock the Hoyas for challenging themselves and coming up short. With that said, they also have a home loss to a middle of the road Penn team and a road loss to a middle of the road Towson team. The end result is a Georgetown team that’s taken more than a few somewhat expected losses but still lands just four spots ahead of #63 Marquette in the Lacrosse Reference team rankings at the moment.
The Hoyas don’t have a fearsome top scorer that the Golden Eagles will have to defend, but they do have a quartet of women who have scored between 20 and 24 goals through 14 games this season. That’s a high diversity of scoring options for Georgetown, and they have four more players averaging at least a goal per game this year. Considering that defense has not been Marquette’s calling card this season, playing a strong team defense to stop any and all shooters wearing Hoya blue might be a problem. The upside to this for MU is that “stick with your assignment” is a potential solution. Georgetown has just 55 assists this season on 180 goals, so passing their way into points isn’t a strong suit of theirs. Ali Diamond does have a team high 18 assists to pair with her goal total to lead the Hoyas in points this year at 41, so if there was one offensive option to key on, she’d be it.
Georgetown’s close defense is not particularly great. Goalie Emily Gaven has a goals-against average of 10.99 this season, which sounds pretty great. However, she’s only stopping 41.6% of shots on goal. If you can get clean looks at her — Mary Schumar’s passing will likely be a high priority here for the Golden Eagles — then Gaven is going to let goals in. The reason her goals against is so low even with that save percentage is because Georgetown’s transition defense is superb. Teams are finishing their clears less than 72% of the time this season, and to give you an idea of how much of a help that is for them: GU finishes nearly 92% of their own clears (most likely assisted by failed clears by their opponents in their offensive end) and Marquette’s successful on over 80% of their clears. Speed and/or precision passing coming through the middle of the field will be crucial to Marquette’s chances of victory in this game.