BEFORE WE GO ANY FURTHER INTO THIS RECAP, we are going to stop and admire the headline on the official GoMarquette.com recap of this game:
WLAX holds on as Niagara falls, 13-12
THAT IS NOT A JOKE. Or at least it’s not me making a joke, it’s definitely a Niagara Falls joke from whoever in the admin office stayed in Milwaukee and didn’t travel with the basketball teams for SID work. Here’s a screencap as proof that this exists.
In retrospect, I am disappointed that Marquette did not win big so I could say “Marquette barrels over Niagara” as a headline, but it’s also 50/50 that whoever pulled this Niagara Falls stunt would have beaten me to it.
It seemed clear at the end of the first quarter that Marquette was going to be a in a duel with Niagara all game long. The Golden Eagles kept the Purple Eagles off the board for the first five minutes while starting off with a 2-0 lead, but after 15 minutes, Niagara had found the back of the net four times and MU was up 5-4. Marquette was doubling them up in shots, 12-6, but that wasn’t showing up on the scoreboard, and an 11-6 edge in shots in the second quarter didn’t help the Golden Eagles to start pulling away, either. After that nine goal first quarter, there were just three total markers in the second period, with Lydia Foust scoring twice in the first seven minutes to put Marquette up 7-4. Rachel Crane scored for the visitors with just seven seconds left in the half, so it was 7-5 at the break.
23-12 in shots, but just two goals separating the two sides. Part of it was Niagara making the most of their shots, as they put eight of their 12 on frame, and five of those found a space to beat MU goalie Brynna Nixon. That’s how it goes sometimes, I guess.
The way the first 11 minutes of the third quarter shook out, it kept looking like this was a 60 minute duel. Niagara scored first, the two sides both cashed in on a Shea Garcia yellow card with MU’s Mary Schumar causing a turnover at midfield and pulling two defenders with her to give Meg Bireley a free shot at scoring while down a woman before Crane pulled that back about 45 seconds later. With 3:52 left in the third, Riley Latray scored to once again make it a one goal game, 9-8.
This is where Marquette won this game.
The Golden Eagles got a goal from Leigh Steiner just 27 seconds later. Garcia closed out the quarter with a goal with 21 seconds left on the clock, and then Tess Osburn scored just 28 seconds into the fourth quarter. 12-8 Marquette, their largest goal of the game.
The two sides traded a goal back and forth over the next six minutes, and Foust’s third goal of the game posted Marquette to a 13-9 lead with 8:36 to go. That felt like it was breathing space, MU had done enough to wrap this game up, and as each minute ticked off the clock, that felt more and more right.
Save by Nixon on a free position attempt, 7 minutes to go.
Garcia’s second yellow card of the game, this time for an illegal stick, she’s done for the day, 5 minutes to go.
Save by Nixon, 4 minutes to go.
Niagara scored on an FPS from Crane, 13-10, 3 minutes to go.
Save by Nixon, 2 minutes to go.
Niagara was getting chances, if you can’t tell. That’s not a great sign, but also they were starting to run out of time.
Failed MU clearance, Lexi Braniecki scores, 13-11, 1:45 to go.
Mary Blee wins the ensuing draw for Marquette, giving them a chance to burn 1:30 off the clock and just take a shot clock violation deep in Niagara’s end to finish this. But Rachel Crane forced a turnover from Emma Soccodato, scooped up a ground ball, and drew a yellow card out of Soccodato. Big ol’ oof there...... but Marquette’s penalty kill stood up. Time that Niagara very much just did not have kept fading off the clock before Braniecki scored with just 30 seconds to go, 13-12 Marquette.
Leigh Steiner won the draw, MU played keep away, boom, game over, finally.
Are there questions to be asked about how Marquette could outshoot Niagara 40-26 for 60 minutes and need their defense to make a stand down the stretch to win? Yep, sure are, but perhaps making that late stand will be a good jumping off point for the defensive end of the field for the Golden Eagles.
Lydia Foust’s three goals led Marquette on the day and her assist on a first quarter Shea Garcia goal gave her a team high four points as well. Both Garcia and Leigh Steiner finished with three points on two goals and an assist. Six Golden Eagles tied for the team lead in ground balls with two each as MU had 18 versus 14 for Niagara. Mary Blee was outstanding on draws for Marquette, posting 13 of MU’s 20 and beating out Niagara’s nine all on her own. Brynna Nixon made nine saves, including five in the fourth quarter alone to do her part to record the W.
How about some highlights, courtesy of GoMarquette.com and FloSports?
Up Next: Hopefully some quality rest and recovery over the next couple of days as Marquette will be back in action on Sunday afternoon. They’ll still be at home, so that’s the good news. Louisville will be coming to town after falling to 4-4 on the year with a 20-7 home loss to #1 North Carolina on Thursday.