Last time out, Marquette women’s lacrosse exploded for a pair of new offensive bests. They set a new program record for goals in a game by putting up 26 against Detroit Mercy, and by holding the Titans to just four goals, they set a new program record for margin of victory as well. The official GoMarquette.com recap of the game is just a laundry list of where Marquette ranks, both as a team and for individual players, amongst the national leaders in a bunch of different offensive categories.
So that led me to wonder: How is Marquette doing in terms of efficiency on the scoring end of the field?
Turns out? REALLY FREAKING GOOD.
Lacrosse Reference currently ranks the Golden Eagles #5 in the country in offensive efficiency. They’re also 4th in the country in time of possession according to LR, which is largely speaking derived from the fact that the Golden Eagles are leading the country in draw controls per game. Win draw, score goal, win draw is a good way to have the ball more than your opponent, that’s for sure.
Unfortunately, as we start pushing into the month of March, the Golden Eagles are way down at #84 in the country in defensive efficiency. For a team that knew that they had a high powered offense coming back from last year and needed to step up on the defensive end, that’s not great. To be clear about this, we’re talking about #84 out of 125 Division 1 teams, so that’s a little worse than it sounds right off the bat. MU’s offense is so strong that LR rates them at #21 in cumulative efficiency, so that’s good…. But it leads to the question of “can Marquette consistently score goals like this in order to balance out the defense letting in a few too many?”
The answer to the question is probably no, not with non-conference games against Louisville and Ohio State still to come and of course a Big East slate that features a regular season finale at home against Denver, the current #6 team in the country. The day is going to come when the Golden Eagles are going to need to make stops in order to win a ballgame.
Until that day comes, though…. Isn’t the old saying “The best defense is a good offense”?
Game #6: at UC Davis Aggies (4-1)
Date: Sunday, March 12, 2023
Time: 3pm Central
Location: UC Davis Health Stadium, Davis, California
Streaming: UC Davis Women’s Lacrosse on Facebook
Live Stats: Stat Broadcast
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWLax
Marquette is 1-0 all time against UC Davis. The only meeting between the two teams came back in 2015 as the Golden Eagles went out west and picked up a 5-4 overtime victory in a game that sounds like it was pretty miserable for everyone involved. Thank you, shot clock gods, for your plentiful bounties.
UC Davis comes into Sunday on a four game winning streak after opening their year with a 16-12 loss in Palo Alto to then-#13 Virginia. Three of those games are just since this past Sunday, as they followed up a neutral site game in San Diego against Kent State (18-8 W) in Ohio on March 5th with a home game on March 7th against Howard (19-1 W) and a Friday evening home win over American (14-13 W).
Part of the reason for the wild schedule is that UC Davis is playing as an independent this season and they have to just get games where they can get them. Much like San Diego State, the Aggies got left out in the cold by the Pac-12 starting to sponsor women’s lacrosse and were left behind for the MPSF to collapse around them. All of this is made weirder by USC presumably leaving the Pac-12 in lacrosse for the Big Ten in a few years and leaving P12 WLAX with just five teams. Who knows what will happen between now and then, perhaps there’s a conference home for the Aggies in the not distant future again.
I don’t know what to make of the Aggies’ season so far. They had an 11-8 lead on the Cavaliers with seven minutes left in the third quarter before giving up eight straight goals and losing a neutral site game to a top 15 team. This seems bad but also not terrible. Then they barely beat Lindenwood, a team making its Division 1 debut this season, although that was merely holding them off with a three goal lead with two minutes to play and on the road, too. They rolled past Kent State, leading 6-0 and 13-4. They scored 16 unanswered goals from the 4 minute mark of the first quarter onwards to beat Howard. On Friday night, they got out to a 5-0 lead, eventually fell behind 11-9 heading into the fourth quarter, tied it up, and finally scored twice in the final six minutes and held on to win. This, against a 3-3 American team. They’re just all over the place here.
One thing working heavily in Marquette’s favor in this game? UC Davis is getting outdrawn on the season 74-53 while building their 4-1 record. That’s 14.8 to 10.6 on a per game basis, but the fact of the matter is that Marquette is winning 61% of their draws this season. If MU can just do what they do, they’re going to have the ball an awful lot in this game, and given MU’s offensive efficiency, that’s probably great news.
Marquette’s defense is going to have to be thoughtful about how they handle the Aggies. They have six women with at least 10 points on the year already. Alex Agnew is the team leader in points with 18 on nine goals and a team high nine assists. Agnew’s nine markers are tied with Grace Gebhardt and Mia Lawrence in that column for the team lead, so UC Davis isn’t shy about sharing the ball and getting the best chance at the net that they can get. All told, 13 Aggies have scored a goal and 11 have recorded an assist.
Ashley Laing has started every game in net so far, and she’s only sat down for 37 minutes total, with all of those coming against Kent State and Howard to the surprise of no one. The senior from California has had double digit saves in every game where she lasted longer than halftime, including 13 against nationally ranked Virginia to keep the Aggies in the game. She is allowing 10.94 goals per 60 minutes of action and stopping just over 50% of shots on cage. It seems like MU will get the possessions that they need to push balls past Laing, but if she’s on her game, the Golden Eagles might need to remember that persistence will pay off.