There’s been a lot of things to celebrate this season for Marquette women’s lacrosse. Wins, records falling, general success, you get the idea. I don’t know if there’s been anything bigger to celebrate than what we saw on Saturday afternoon at Valley Fields, as the Golden Eagles staked themselves to a lead and held #24 Connecticut at arm’s length for the rest of the game. Your final: Marquette 12, UConn 9, and that is not just a big win for MU in terms of the Big East standings or their NCAA tournament future, but it is just the second win over a ranked opponent in program history. MU’s only other ranked win came back in April of 2019 as they beat #24 Georgetown. The Golden Eagles are now 13-1 on the season and 3-0 in Big East action.
UConn scored first, and it’s no surprise that the goal came from Lia LaPrise. It’s also not a surprise that Marquette was able to answer that goal pretty much right away. The surprise is what came next. We know Marquette is a great, perhaps elite offensive team this season. Did anyone expect Marquette to go on a 7-0 run to end the quarter, or to extend that run to 8-0 with the first goal of the second quarter? I don’t know about that, UConn’s ranked for a reason, y’know? And yet that’s what happened, with Tess Osburn and Shea Garcia both wrapping up hat tricks in the run and Garcia getting a natural hat trick with three consecutive unanswered goals.
So: 8-1 Marquette, 13:24 to play in the second quarter. This is good. Very good, really.
It also turned out to be incredibly critical to have a seven goal lead.
The two teams traded goals in the second quarter, with MU ultimately holding an edge since they scored first and last in the frame. Meg Bireley’s goal with 4:23 to go before halftime ended up as the final marker of the quarter, and that left Marquette with a 10-3 advantage heading to the locker room. The third quarter was mostly more of the same as the second. Lydia Foust scored a little less than two minutes in for the first goal of the second half, and there was a flurry of back and forth in the first five minutes, with a Garcia goal — her 40th of the season — giving Marquette a 12-4 advantage.
Things went quiet from there, not surprisingly really, as the scoring pace had quieted down in the second quarter, too. But eventually, an Audrey Brett penalty turned into a goal for UConn’s Lauren Barry, and she scored again before the quarter was out. 12-6 Marquette, 15 minutes to play.
If you’re paying attention, you’ve realized that Marquette hit 12 goals with 10:30 to play..... and they won the game with 12 goals. Yeah. That happened. Marquette didn’t score a single goal for the final 24:30 of the game. They came about as close as you can come to scoring a goal without scoring a goal twice in the fourth quarter, with an Osburn shot clearly getting past UConn goalie Landyn White... but the spin on the ball as it came out of her stick caused it to bounce up and back into the field of play when it hit the ground short of the goal line. That came with about two minutes to play and would have been a dagger. That wasn’t even MU’s closest opportunity to a goal, as with about four minutes left, Hannah Greving straight up put the ball in the net, but had the goal waved off for a crease violation.
Instead, Marquette got outscored 3-0 in the final 15 minutes as UConn inched closer and closer. But the Golden Eagles were closing them out at the same time, even without goals going in for them. After giving up 14 shots to the Huskies in the third, MU held them to just six tries in the fourth. Five of them were on frame, which means that sophomore goalie Brynna Nixon came up with two of her career high 14 saves to post one of the 10 best saves games in program history and give the Golden Eagles the stops they needed. Both of Nixon’s stops came early in the quarter, but she had made so many big time stops before the fourth quarter started that those were big enough to get the job done.
In retrospect, Marquette was never truly in danger as the game came down to it. LaPrise scored with 6:43 to go with Emma Soccodato sidelined on an unreleaseable penalty to make it 12-8, and yeah, if either the Greving or Osburn shots go on the board, it would have made a world of difference. It was tense as Marquette found themselves in need of big play after big play to keep the Huskies quiet, and they had to keep coming up with those on defense instead of getting goals to keep UConn far away. But the clock kept ticking, and when you’re up four, that’s all that matters.
UConn wouldn’t pull within three until there was less than 90 seconds left in the game, as Rayea Davis scored right after a UConn penalty ended. Is 1:23 enough time to make enough plays to wipe out a three goal margin? Yeah, it probably is if you win a draw control cleanly and score the first one in a hurry. With UConn up 15-9 in the draw control department on Marquette, one of the best draw control teams in the country, it certainly seemed like the Huskies could be capable of doing exactly that.
Except Ellie Henry is #2 all time in program history in draw controls for a reason, and there might not be a more important DC in her personal catalog than the one she scooped right there. There’s not much UConn can do about MU’s possession as long as the Golden Eagle can play keep away and keep it in their sticks, and with the shot clock off, that was that.
Shea Garcia finished with a game high four goals and an assist as well to not only lead the team in goals and points, but also extend her program record for career points. Tess Osburn was the only other hat trick scorer in the game, although Meg Bireley and Lydia Foust both had two goals and an assist to get to three points in the game. Mary Schumar added two assists in the opening 8-0 run to reset her single season assists record, but she’ll need to wait until next time out to try to break the single season points and career assists records.
How about some highlights, courtesy of GoMarquette.com and FloSports?
Up Next: Marquette takes their perfect league record on the road for a mid-week contest before playing a second time in seven days next weekend. On Wednesday, MU will be in Indianapolis to visit Butler for a Noon Central time start before challenging Villanova in Philadelphia on Sunday. The Bulldogs are 5-7 on the year and 1-2 in Big East action. Their most recent Big East game was a 15-5 loss to Villanova on April 8th, while their most recent game was a 26-3 loss to then-#8 Notre Dame back on April 10th.