I want to make this 100% clear: I am not advocating for Marquette women’s lacrosse to be ranked in the Inside Lacrosse/IWLCA top 25 poll. I think their 7-1 start to the season, the best in program history, is super neat and super awesome, but I think even the biggest Marquette sycophant can admit that the Golden Eagles haven’t picked up a signature win this season, not quite yet.
Beating Louisville was close, though. Closer than we realize, as it turns out, and that’s why I bring up the top 25 poll.
The newest top 25 poll came out on Monday morning, like you do, and as you’d expect, there’s only one team that Marquette has played in the top 25. Northwestern sits at #2 this week, so good for them. San Diego State, Youngstown State, Cincinnati, Detroit Mercy, UC Davis, Niagara, nope, nope, nope, not in the rankings, no surprises here.
Louisville, though.... Louisville’s in the receiving votes department of the poll, one of five teams there. To be clear here: Louisville was not ranked or even receiving votes last week. Yet here they are, riding a three game losing streak, falling to #5 Boston College by 11, to #1 North Carolina by 13, and to Marquette by 4 to drop to 4-5 on the season.... and someone — at least one someone! — stuck the Cardinals in the top 25. If they had lost 20-19 to North Carolina on a goal in the final minute or something and then lost to Marquette anyway, I’d say, well, I see the point. But that is NOT what happened, as the Tar Heels opened up a 5-1 lead to start the game and then held the Cards without a goal for the final 17 minutes to put a bow on a game that was already 13-7.
What are we doing here? I wouldn’t be this annoyed about it if it wasn’t for the fact that Marquette beat Louisville on Sunday, the day that, in theory, the voters should be sitting there studying the poll carefully and figuring out who to vote for. You want to vote for a UL team hasn’t beaten anyone in the top 25, that’s on you, but don’t do it literally hours after the Golden Eagles just beat them, and especially not after Marquette moved to 7-1 with the win. That’s silly. Stop it.
We’re eight games into the 2023 schedule. There are just nine games remaining. That means this weekend’s two game set in Michigan represents the midway point of the season for Marquette. It’s been a great season already, what with the best eight game start in program history and all. Buuuuuuut Big East play is right around the corner. These two games will be the last non-conference games before league play starts, but there is one more non-con game coming after that. If you want to look at these two as two final tune-ups before Big East play, cool. If you want to look at these as two final tests to pass, given they’re road games and all, then that’s cool too. There’s an argument to be made that Marquette has established themselves as the second best team in the Big East to this point of the season (hello #4 Denver), but that’s not going to mean anything unless MU can actually prove that point on the field. At a glance, teams that are on their best run ever to start a season pick up two wins this weekend. Teams that believe they’re the second best team in the league behind a national championship contender get two wins this weekend. Knock that out, cross that off the list, however you want to say it, and bring on the Hoyas next week.
Game #9: at Eastern Michigan Eagles (1-5)
Date: Friday, March 24, 2023
Time: 10am Central
Location: Scicluna Field, Ypsilanti, Michigan
Streaming: Nope, because this is what Scicluna Field looks like
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWLax
This is the first ever meeting between Marquette and Eastern Michigan. That’s more about this being EMU’s first season as a Division 1 program than anything else.
Eastern Michigan announced the beginning of their women’s lacrosse program in November of 2019. I’m guessing it’s been a little bit of a rocky road to this point even if the plan always was to start action this season, particularly since they didn’t hire a coach until September of 2020.... and also that coach resigned in December 2021 for family reasons. So, yeah, it’s been a whole thing to get them to the point where they started off the program on February 16th of this season with their first official game. They picked up the program’s first ever win on March 7th, beating Delaware State 12-7 at home. They came close to a second win against fellow first year outfit Xavier five days later, but came up short 11-10 in Cincinnati as the Musketeers held them scoreless for the entire fourth quarter. The Eagles are coming off a 16-3 road loss to #17 Michigan where the Wolverines were up 11-0 at halftime.
FAMILIAR FACE ALERT: Marquette lacrosse great Allison Lane is an assistant coach for EMU. In fact, she was actually the interim head coach after EMU’s first head coach resigned and the athletic department hired Sara Tisdale, Central Michigan’s first ever head coach, in June 2022.
There are just three non-freshmen on this roster, so as expected, freshmen are playing major roles. Mackenzie Blackwell and Avery Schwab are two of them, and the pair are tied for the team lead in points this season with 11 each. Blackwell has gotten there by leading the team in goals with nine, while Schwab is the team’s leader in assists with six. Sydney Lawrence — one of the three non-freshmen — leads the team in shots so far this season with 30 even though the former Oregon Duck is listed as a defender on the roster.
Hannah Bargeron got the start in net last time out for the Eagles, which was a change. Freshman Giuliana Ditsky had started the first five games and was fine for a freshman goalie on a first year team. Bargeron is a transfer from D2 Westminster in Utah, and had come on in relief in three games before starting against the Wolverines. She lasted 45 minutes all the way up to 14-2 Michigan before Tisdale swapped her out for Ditsky. Mostly because of “14 goals allowed on 23 shots on goal in 45 minutes against Michigan,” Bargeron has much worse stats than Ditsky does. No idea what Tisdale will do against Marquette on Friday morning, but freshman Briar Slattery is the only other option on the roster.
Game #10: at Central Michigan Chippewas (2-5)
Date: Sunday, March 26, 2023
Time: 11am Central
Location: CMU Soccer/Lacrosse Complex, Mount Pleasant, Michigan
Streaming: CMUChippewas.com, and it appears the stream will be free.
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWLax
Marquette is 6-2 all time against Central Michigan. The Golden Eagles won the first three meetings, went 1-2 in the next three, and then have now won the last two each with both wins coming at Valley Fields including 19-13 a year ago. Marquette is just 1-2 all time in Mount Pleasant, including losses in 2019 and 2021, although the 2021 contest was a hastily scheduled throw it together to make up for a canceled game for both sides.
We skipped past the preseason poll part of the Eastern Michigan discussion because the Eagles are a first year program, and that’s not really the point. Central Michigan is not, and they were picked to finish second in the MAC, the same league as EMU, this season. They actually picked up three first place votes in the MAC preseason poll after sharing the league’s regular season title last year under the direction of EMU’s new head coach as well as winning the MAC tournament to earn the program’s first ever NCAA tournament appearance.
Things have, uh, maybe not worked out that well under the guidance of new head coach (and former Marquette assistant!) Emilia Ward. They won their opener, 15-12, in a neutral site contest against Cal down in Missouri... but followed that up with a 17-15 loss to Lindenwood as the Lions make their Division 1 debut this season. that was the first of four straight losses for the Chippewas, which was a run finally snapped by a 19-8 smashing of Duquesne over in Pittsburgh. Last time out was not particularly good, and definitely not in terms of building positive feelings coming out of the Duquesne win, as CMU took a home loss to Cincinnati by a score of, and this is not a typo, 9-4. That’s the second time this season that Central Michigan has played a game where both teams stayed in the double digits and the third time this year that the Chips were held to six or fewer goals. That loss had to be particularly rough to take in the CMU locker room, as they had a 3-0 lead in the first 10 minutes and a 4-2 lead at the end of the first quarter..... and then they got held to four shots in the second half.
Central Michigan has a pair of women with 22 points in seven games, and that’s pretty good. Maggie Diebold has 17 goals and five assists, while Audrey Whiteside has 14 goals and eight assists. We must point out that the pair has tallied 11 of their 31 goals by way of the free position attempt, and they have a combined 65% conversion rate there this season. Marquette is allowing a conversion rate of 52% this season and 26% of all goals let in this year have come by FPS. 28 of the 52 FPS attempts allowed by Marquette this season have come in the last three games, so yeah, it’s a whole thing that has to be avoided here. On top of that, Kelly Hoyt has 16 goals with just one coming on FPS attempts, so that’s another dimension to the CMU attack that the Golden Eagles will have to be wary of on the defensive side of the ball.
It seems likely that Marquette will see Alexa Martel in net for Central Michigan. Erin Owens started the first three games of the season, but was lifted for Martel against Lindenwood and Notre Dame, and she hasn’t played since. Martel, a sophomore from Greece (the town in New York, not the country), is stopping over 51% of shots on target this season, and even with that low output game against Cincinnati last time out, she’s still letting in 12.34 goals per 60 minutes of action. That is slightly inflated with Lindenwood getting 12 in 40 minutes, Notre Dame getting 14 in 45, and Towson throwing in 17 across the full game, but an average is an average for a reason.