Things were looking really bad for Marquette women’s lacrosse after 15 minutes in our nation’s capital on Saturday. The Golden Eagles were winning draws, something they excel at, but that wasn’t turning into good offensive chances. Even worse, their lack of chances was turning into great offensive chances on the other end, and that led to Marquette staring up at a 6-1 deficit against Georgetown at the end of the first quarter.
But Marquette is one of the most productive offenses in the country for a reason. They showed that reason over the next 25 minutes. The Golden Eagles went on a 10-1 run bridging halftime, with a pair of 5-0 bursts on either side of a Kylie Hazen goal, to post themselves to an 11-7 advantage with 4:54 left in the third quarter. That advantage was enough for Marquette to hold off the Hoyas — even with a fourth quarter lightning break — and pick up a 14-12 win. That moves Marquette to 10-1 on the season, extending the best start in program history and it matches the program record for wins in a season and it gives Marquette a 6-0 record on the road this year, setting a new program record for road W’s.
Marquette didn’t overwhelm Georgetown in those middle two quarters, by the way. Shots were 17-12 favoring MU in the second and third periods. Marquette did do a better job of making the most of their chances though, and that made the difference. Shots on goal went in MU’s direction, 14-8, for the middle 30 minutes of the game, and well, it’s easy to score 10 goals when you put 14 of your 17 shots on frame, y’know? Also a big help? Brynna Nixon walling up the Marquette net. The sophomore goalie made five saves in the second quarter alone to build some confidence after that bad first quarter as well as do some emotional damage to the Hoya offense, too.
Meg Bireley was a big reason why Marquette went on their tear. She scored her first goal of the game as MU’s only goal in the first quarter, but she lit the Georgetown net on fire in the second and third. Bireley scored twice just 37 seconds apart in the second quarter to pull Marquette within one, 6-5, and give her a hat trick on the day.
Bireley’s fourth goal of the day started off the third quarter’s scoring and knotted the game at seven each after Hazen had scored in the final minute of the first half to send the Hoyas to the locker room with a one goal lead.
She let her teammates take a couple of turns as Emma Soccodato and Lydia Foust pushed the Golden Eagles out to a 9-7 advantage, and then it was Bireley back in the spotlight. With 7:17 left in the third, she cashed in a Georgetown penalty for her fifth goal of the game, and then just over two minutes later, she told the universe that she didn’t really care for the penalty called on Soccodato. That was the “she caught a pass in the middle and turned and fired in a goal, but apparently the defender colliding with Soccodato on the shot was too close to her for her to have shot it at all, so no goal and also a yellow card” penalty. Yes, it was dumb. I think it is very neat that Meg Bireley made that point with a shorthanded goal.
Georgetown got a Hazen goal on that penalty to make it 11-8 heading to the final quarter, and Tessa Brooks made it 11-9 Marquette to start the fourth quarter scoring. Ellie Henry took those two goals personally, and pulled one back with this absolutely great individual play to put a punctuation mark on her day:
A goal, two caused turnovers, four ground balls, eight draw controls, and I bet if we check her bag coming back from D.C., there’s probably a partridge in a pear tree in there, too. Awesome stuff.
This is where the lightning delay came in, and I have to say that it was a very funny delay. I get what the rules on it are, and I don’t doubt the fact that there was a strike within the minimum distance to halt the game, and the cameras pointing to the left end of the broadcast angle showed some pretty nasty looking clouds in the distance. That doesn’t mean that there wasn’t bright sunshine at Cooper Field when the delay was called, and thus: Funny.
Also, this was Marquette’s tweet announcing the warmups and pending restart just 27 minutes later:
Mother Nature was just playing an April Fool’s Day prank on us ☀️— Marquette Women’s Lacrosse (@MarquetteWLax) April 1, 2023
The teams are back on the field warming up to resume play with blue skies and 75 degree weather pic.twitter.com/yubQcjwY8J
It was only a three goal lead for Marquette after Henry’s goal, and the Hoyas scored first after the delay to make it 12-10. That meant the Golden Eagles had to buckle up and close the door on this one. That got easier and easier as the clock continued to run, and this power play goal from Foust with 5:32 to play made it even easier.
The Golden Eagles and Hoyas kicked goals back and forth, but Emma Gebhardt’s goal with 2:24 to go made it a two goal game. All of that scoring by Marquette had ultimately only given them very little breathing room, but that’s what happens when you fall behind by five goals and have to score 10 of the next 11 to get back into it: Your lead just isn’t that big.
Emma Soccodato picked up a draw control after Gebhardt’s strike, and that was a big winning play for the Golden Eagles. GU found themselves in a position where Marquette could burn the clock down to just under a minute to play, and they had to start getting physical to force a turnover. That led to three penalties assessed along the way, and MU battled through all of that physicality to close the door and start out Big East play 1-0.
Meg Bireley’s six goals gave her the points lead on the day, but Lydia Foust was right behind her with four goals and an assist. Perhaps the most fascinating part of Marquette closing the game on a 13-6 run? Just one assist for Mary Schumar, as she tallied the helper on Bireley’s woman-down goal in the third quarter. Schumar came into the game just four assists away from breaking Marquette’s single season record (that she tied last year, by the way) and leading the country in assists per game. Georgetown doing a number on Marquette in the first quarter probably had a lot to do with the Hoyas taking away Schumar’s passing, but it’s a big development for the Golden Eagles to be able to have the offensive outburst that they did over the remaining 45 minutes with effectively nothing from Schumar in six-on-six play.
How about some highlights, courtesy of GoMarquette.com and FloSports?
Up Next: Time to wrap up non-conference play! After we wait to see if the ILWomen/IWLCA voters finally notice a 10-1 Marquette team on Monday, the Golden Eagles will take to the field at home on Tuesday afternoon for their last non-con tilt of the season. First draw against Ohio State will be at Noon Central time on Tuesday, April 4th. Do I know and/or understand why it’s a noon start on a Tuesday? No, I absolutely do not, but that’s what’s happening, and FloSports will have the broadcast. The Buckeyes are 5-7 this season after picking up a 16-6 home win over Louisville to snap a five game losing streak back on March 28th in their most recent game.