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The 2023 Marquette Women’s Lacrosse Preview: The Returning Players

Head coach Meredith Black returns most of her dynamic offense and four capable defensive starters for the 2023 season.

Ellie Henry
Can Ellie Henry lead Marquette’s defense to bigger and better things in 2023?
Marquette University

Are you ready for another season of Marquette women’s lacrosse?

We’re getting closer and closer, so it’s time to do some season previewing. Here we’re going to look at the depth of the roster that head coach Meredith Black has returning from last year’s team that went 8-10 overall but 3-2 in Big East play and reached the conference tournament. In future parts of the preview, we’ll look at the newcomers on the roster, and then also take a look at three big questions facing Black and her team as the season gets under way.

We’ve got a lot of people to talk about here, so let’s get right to it, starting with MU’s primary offensive options.....


Ready for a curveball? We’re not going to start this section with Marquette’s leading goal scorer from last season. Not because she’s not on the team this season, she is, and we’ll get to her in a minute, but instead because we’re going to start with last year’s points leader. That’s Mary Schumar, who had just 24 goals last spring, which was just sixth best on the team. However, Schumar did have a team high 43 assists, and no one else on the team had more than 18. That gave Schumar 67 total points on the year, and not only did that lead the team, but it tied Grace Gabriel and Riley Hill for the most points in a single season in MU history. Her assists total tied the single season record there too, set by Cate Soccodato in 2019. So here’s the question: Can Schumar break those records this season? After all, she did have one game last year where she didn’t have a point at all, in addition to four other games without an assist and another totally different game — that’s six in total now — where she didn’t have a goal. There’s room to improve, at least from an every game consistency angle. There’s also the possibility of Marquette having more offensive weapons at their disposal this season, and that possibility will get its own section a little bit further down the page.

Moving on, we have to get to Marquette’s leader in goals scored last season. Shea Garcia has elected to return for her bonus season of eligibility, as well as the chance to rewrite the MU record books. She has a chance to become MU’s first ever 200 point player, and by “chance,” I mean if she just repeats her team high 45 goals, she’ll do it, never mind her 18 assists from last season. Garcia’s worst case scenario for the MU goals chart seems to be second place, as she’ll need 60 goals to pass Grace Gabriel there. I won’t rule it out, because Gabriel had a 59 goal season to set the single season record, but that’s what it’s going to take. It would be neat to see, but given the variety of options on offense, Marquette isn’t going to need Garcia to do it.

Schumar and Garcia are the only two every game starters coming back in the attack group, although that was somewhat expected with Kyra LaMotte only being in Milwaukee for her grad transfer year. With that said, Meg Bireley — officially listed on the roster as the only attack/midfield combo player — did appear in all 18 games last season as a freshman, she just didn’t start in any games. She finished the year with 31 goals and eight assists, and finished the year on a 14 game goal streak. I don’t know how it all works out tactically for head coach Meredith Black and her staff, but if Bireley can do that jumping off the bench here and there, then that seems like a scoring touch that the Golden Eagles need on the field more often.

Elle Wagner was a redshirt freshman last year and Campbell Brown was a true freshman, with each woman appearing in five games along the way. Neither one scored a goal or recorded an assist in 2022, but Brown did snag a ground ball in two of the games that she got into. Is there a bigger role for either woman in 2023, or are they going to have to wait for MU’s depth on the attacking end to open up a little bit more down the road?


Last year, in game #2 of the season, Marquette lost two players for the season due to injury. One was attacker Hannah Greving, the other was midfielder Leigh Steiner. That’s why I’m giving them their own section in the middle of the two groups, that and because they’re both in the exact same boat: Are they healthy and 100% ready to play a year after their injuries?

Greving had 14 goals and two assists as a freshman in 2020 before the season was brought to a halt, and then had 21 goals and an assist in 2021. The 6-foot Illinois native did all of this while starting just twice, and she had a hat trick before suffering her season ending injury last year. Steiner had an outstanding freshman campaign in 2021, bursting onto the scene with 17 goals and 10 assists, and started in both 2022 games she appeared in, putting up a hat trick with an assist in MU’s opener before going out for the year.

Both women were going to be major components of what Marquette was going to do on offense last year. MU set a program record for goals in a season in 2022 and fell just four assists short of a team record there, and they did it effectively without either Greving or Steiner contributing. Are they healthy enough to contribute this year, and if so, what’s the ceiling on what MU’s offense can accomplish?

For what it’s worth, the team did post a picture on Instagram back on January 20th that clearly shows the two of them — conveniently standing right next to each other — definitely looking like full participants in early season practices. Greving is #8 with the knee brace, while Steiner is #3 and is apparently unencumbered with any devices.


Believe it or not, Marquette actually doesn’t return an every game starter in the midfield. In fact, only one returning midfielder appeared in all 18 games a year ago, and Mary Blee is officially the only midfield/defense combination player listed on the roster, so I don’t know if she counts towards the midfielder group or not. Blee made her impact on the team by winning draw controls last season, starting 16 times most likely with the goal of helping the Golden Eagles start the game with the ball. She was second on the team in DCs with 74 last year while picking up just two ground balls and snagging one caused turnover, so it’s a pretty straightforward role to keep being awesome at again this season.

As far as offensive impact from the midfield, there is no shortage of options for the Golden Eagles. Lydia Foust and Emma Soccodato both missed two games last season and didn’t start in a third. Foust is back for a fifth season of eligibility after earning First Team All-Big East honors each of the past two seasons. Last year, she wrapped up the year with career bests in goals (40) and assists (18), and also had time for just over a ground ball per game and 13 caused turnovers. Little bit of everything, but also a whole bunch of points. Soccodato was Second Team all-league last season after a career year herself. 30 goals is more than three times than she had in either of her first two seasons with MU, and more than double her career total before 2022 began. The New York native also had eight assists, 24 ground balls, and 12 caused turnovers, so she’s doing work all over the place, just like Foust.

Behind them, there is a pretty strong core of midfielders with regular or at least regular-ish playing time last season if not a notable statistical impact. Samantha Galvin appeared in 17 games with three starts, but she had just four goals and three assists in that time. That’s an improvement on her freshman year of three goals in 12 games, so maybe she makes the leap in 2023. Josie Kropp made a big step forward as a sophomore, playing in 15 games with two starts. The Minnesota product recorded just one point on an assist, but she made her impact on draws, gathering up 43 draw controls to give the Golden Eagles variety in that department. Carrie Froemming played in 11 games in 2022 after appearing in just three total games in her first two years with the Golden Eagles, while Lily Dietrich played in 10 games with a start as a freshman last season. She didn’t make her debut until March, and scored her first career goal in her second appearance on her way to three goals and an assist by the end of the season. Hanna Bodner was also a freshman in 2022, and she tallied her first career goal in her first of seven appearances for MU last season.

Kelsey Koch has played a deep bench role for Marquette the past two seasons, playing in two games as a freshman and three last year. Same for Lorelai VanGuilder, who got into two games as a freshman last season. She did wrap up the year with a ground ball and a caused turnover, getting both against Kent State.


It’s a safe bet that we know who Marquette’s four defensive starters are for 2023. The Golden Eagles have two women returning who started all 18 games last season, another who played in all 18 and started in 16, and a fourth who appeared and started in 17 games. Ellie Henry and Molly Powers are the two every game starters, and Henry has the statistical edge from last season. She led the team in draw controls with 88, which helped her to Second Team All-Big East honors along with All-Big East Tournament honors even though MU was eliminated in the semifinals. Henry also had two goals, because that’s what happens when you win 88 draws, plus she added 25 ground balls and 19 caused turnovers, and now she’s back for a fifth season of eligibility. Powers fell a little bit short of a ground ball per game and added eight caused turnovers to the cause.... and did all that as a freshman.

Faith Chmielewski was an occasional player as a freshman in 2021 before becoming a regular on MU’s defensive end last season. She beat out Henry in the ground ball department, 28-25, but fell short of her teammate in caused turnovers with 16. That’s still third best on the team behind Henry and Mary Schumar, so full credit awarded for it. Audrey Brett is the player who missed one game last season, and even with that being the case, she still led the team in ground balls last season with 38. That was more than twice than her total in 16 games as a freshman, so let’s cross our fingers that it’s more about skill than right place and right time. Given that Brett had just 12 caused turnovers, it does feel a little bit of luck and a little bit of skill.

If Marquette needs to find a replacement if someone misses time, Kate Pearson is the player most likely to get the nod. She started in all eight games that she appeared in as a sophomore during the 2021 season, then started three times in 11 appearances last season, including both of MU’s final two games of the year. As you’d expect, her stats were a little bit better when she was a full time starter, so we’ll see what she has to give the Golden Eagles this spring.

While the Golden Eagles seem to have five viable options for four starting spots heading into the season, they don’t have much by way of bench options with experience on the field. Colleen Graham has appeared in three games in three seasons and recorded her first career ground ball last season. Kaitlyn Huber played in four games as a freshman in 2021 but just one a year ago, although she picked up her first career ground ball in that one. Jasmine Marval is in her third season at Marquette as well, but she has yet to appear in a game. All three are going to have a strong understanding of what Black and her staff are asking of them, but they haven’t been asked to execute it on the field much up til now.


2023 is going to be a big season for Brynna Nixon. The 5’10” Washington native played in nine of Marquette’s 18 games a year ago, coming in as relief for Amanda Rumsey in all nine. She’s Marquette’s only experienced netminder right now, as her only backup is freshman Ava Sprinkel. There’s some evidence to suggest that Nixon is going to work out, as she did beat out Rumsey in the goals-against average department pretty easily last year at 12.63 per 60 minutes. Amongst 15 keeper seasons in MU history with at least 200 minutes played (including Nixon, who played more than 250 minutes in 2022), only Sarah Priem (3x) and Sophia Leva (2x) have managed to have a goals-against average better than Nixon did last season. There’s questions to be asked as to whether how much of that is “teams took their foot off the gas when Meredith Black pulled the trigger on the switch,” as Nixon only stopped 34.6% of shots on goal, and that was worse than Rumsey’s 35.6% while she was letting in 15.72 goals per 60 minutes. Marquette’s offense was a machine last season, and most of the key cogs in it return from last year. The defense has to hold up their end if the Golden Eagles want to improve on their 8-10 record, and a big part of that may purely come down to “Brynna Nixon has to be much better.”