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Marquette Women’s Lacrosse Preview: vs Detroit Mercy

The Golden Eagles are back in action for the first time since taking their first loss of the season.

NCAA Basketball Tournament - Detroit v Kansas
It occurs to me that I’m using an 11 year old picture of UDM’s mascot. PHOTOGS! Take more mascot pictures!
Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

For the first time in 2023, we get to see how Marquette women’s lacrosse responds to a loss.

Meredith Black’s Golden Eagles started off 2023 with three straight wins, with the second of them generating the best start in program history, surpassing 2022 when MU won their opener for the first time ever. They ran that to 3-0 to start the year before tangling with #3 Northwestern in their most recent game, and honestly, that went pretty well. Yeah, the Wildcats won the second quarter 8-2, which is not particularly fun, but Mary Schumar broke the program record for assists in a game and MU played the other 45 minutes of the game within a goal of the Wildcats, 13-12. I’d say playing 75% of a competitive game and setting an offensive program record against a national championship contender isn’t the worst way to spend an evening, although yeah yeah, no moral victories, etc.

Sports is all about how you respond, both in the macro and in the micro, and Sunday gives the Golden Eagles a chance at one of those macro responses. How will having their winning streak to start the season snapped affect Marquette? Does it cause them to redouble their efforts to play even better next time out, does it cause them to doubt themselves and what they’ve been doing? Are there lessons to be learned from that 8-2 second quarter against Northwestern, or do they look at the 13-12 rest of the game and say “that’s what we need to focus on doing again and again in the future”?

It’s also been over a week since that game against the Wildcats, so there’s an issue of layoff and rust to address. Not all that much, MU usually has a week off or so between games, but they’ve been ruminating on that loss since then as well. That adds something to the mix, and it will be interesting to see how the Golden Eagles respond — there’s that word again — against a team that, as it appears on paper — that they would be favored to beat at home.

One last thing! Lacrosse Reference published a very hand All Of Division 1 efficiency chart on Friday morning. You can go look at the original tweet if you want, but I wanted to drop my own version of it in here just so you don’t have to spend time finding Marquette on it.... like I did because the MU monogram is a little bit obscured by the Mercer logo.

As the picture says, good offense to the right, good defense to the top. MU’s offense is on the plus side of the line, but the defense is not. That’s not a surprise for the Golden Eagles, who had one of the best offenses in program history a year ago and returned most of the players who scored all those goals. They were going to have to find a way to be better on defense this season and to this point, they haven’t quite done that. This isn’t “yes, but they gave up 21 to Northwestern, so that’s the problem” because this is adjusted efficiency. Giving up 21 to a national championship contender — you can see the purple Northwestern N in the graph very easily — is less of a problem than giving up 37 total goals to three teams that are a combined 7-11 on the year. Early in the season, etc., building and growing, etc. but also something to keep an eye on.

Stat Watch: Shea Garcia has passed Claire Costanza for 3rd place on Marquette’s all time points list. She needs three points to tie and four to pass Megan Menzuber for second place.

Stat Watch #2: Mary Schumar needs one point to become Marquette’s 14th 100 point player in program history.

Stat Watch #3: Emma Soccodato and Hannah Greving both need just one goal to tie Kenzie Brown for 15th place on Marquette’s all-time goals list. Meg Bireley needs four goals to get into that tie.

Stat Watch #4: She just had a new program record eight against the #3 team in the country, so we may as well say it: Mary Schumar needs seven helpers to tie Riley Hill for the 4th most assists on Marquette’s all time assists chart.

Stat Watch #5: Meg Bireley, Emma Soccodato, and Leigh Steiner need one, two, and three assists respectively to tie Hayley Baas for 15th place on Marquette’s all time assists list.

Stat Watch #6: Ellie Henry needs two draw controls to tie and three to pass Allison Lane for 3rd place on Marquette’s all time draw controls chart. She’s six away from tying Emily Cooper for second place, and 151 away from Grace Gabriel’s program record. Probably not going to get to that record on Sunday.

Game #5: vs Detroit Mercy Titans (1-2)

Date: Sunday, March 5, 2023
Time: 12pm Central
Location: Andy Glockner Memorial Bubble, Valley Fields, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Streaming: FloSports with Peter Ferreri calling the action
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWLax

Marquette is 7-0 all time against Detroit Mercy. The teams first met in 2013, Marquette’s first year as a Division 1 program and faced off in each of MU’s first four seasons. After a break, the series restarted in 2019, took a COVID break in 2021, and bounced back in 2022. This will be MU’s first time hosting since 2019, and the Golden Eagles won last year’s meeting 22-9.

While Detroit Mercy is a full time member of the Horizon League, the HL doesn’t sponsor women’s lacrosse, so the Titans play in the MAC. They’re not expected to be very good at lacrosse this season, as they finished tied for last in the preseason poll. UDM picked up 13 points to tie with Eastern Michigan, and that landed them five points behind Akron in fifth place. This is the part of the show where I tell you that Akron is in their fourth season as a program, which includes a COVID-shortened seven game season in 2020 in their first year of operation and a 2-15 season last year. Eastern Michigan is in their first year as a lacrosse program this year, and earnestly published a game recap titled “Eagles Record Program-High 11 Goals in Setback to Winthrop.” The MAC coaches voted UDM on even footing with EMU.

After opening up the year with a 16-5 loss to Canisius, the Titans have gone 1-1 in Big East play in their last two contests. They went down to Cincinnati and secured an 11-10 win over Xavier in the first home game in Musketeers history and then returned home last Sunday for a 12-10 loss to Butler. That was the first win of the year for the Bulldogs after they opened the year with a one goal loss to the Youngstown State team that MU beat 18-11.

I guess the good news for UDM is that they’ve gotten their offense in gear for double digit goals each of the last two times out after managing only five in their opener against the Griffins. Taylor Rocha is now up to five goals on the year all by herself, so small victories. The redshirt freshman from Florida scored twice in each of UDM’s first two games before only finding the net once vs Butler, but that’s still the team lead in goals ahead of Annie Gilbert and Cat Kopchia, who have four goals each. Gilbert, a senior from Michigan, has three assists to lead Detroit Mercy in that column, and that’s good enough to get her into a tie with Rocha for the team lead in points. In general, UDM is spreading their offense around through three games, with five women taking at least 10 shots. For context purposes, Lydia Foust, Meg Bireley, and Shea Garcia have opened up a big lead on the rest of MU’s attackers through four games with Bireley the low woman at 24 shots.

We can expect to see Meredith Leavell in net for the Titans on Sunday. She has started all three contests for UDM so far this season, and she’s played every minute of each of the last two games. The sophomore from Florida let in 14 goals in 45 minutes against Canisius, and that’s pushing her goals-against average up a bit, but the last two games has pulled it down to just over 13 goals per 60 minutes of action. She is stopping over 51% of shots on goal, which is pretty dang good, so MU’s offense is going to have to be either particular or persistent in trying to beat her.