Well, it’s official, the NCAA is a bunch of haters.
Today is April 3rd. I waited to write this preview until Monday night because I figured that the NCAA would publish the first women’s lacrosse RPI of the season and we could talk about it, what with Marquette holding a 10-1 record and off to the best start in program history. After all, last year, we got an RPI on March 14th, so April 3rd, weeks later, seems like a nice time to publish the first one of this year.
Nope! Nothing doing. Men’s lacrosse is on their second RPI update of the season, but nothing for the women’s game yet. Super weird and maybe not good.
Also maybe not good: Shea Garcia missed Marquette’s game against Georgetown on Saturday. It’s a little worrying seeing as she was clearly available for practice on Friday at Cooper Field. Garcia was wearing a sleeve on her knee earlier this season, and then wasn’t for a little while. I thought that was a good sign, and being involved in practice on Friday would go in that direction….. but missing the game is the opposite of a good sign. The fifth year senior is currently nine points away from not only breaking Marquette’s all-time points record but also from becoming the first MU player to ever score 200 points in a career. Hopefully this is just some minor setback that kept her out for one game and she’ll be back on the field on Tuesday afternoon.
Stat Watch: Mary Schumar needs two assists to tie and three to break Marquette’s single season assist record. Yes, that’s the single season record she tied at the end of last season, and yes, Marquette has five games left to go right now.
Game #12: vs Ohio State Buckeyes (5-7, 0-3 Big Ten)
Marquette is 0-3 all time against Ohio State. The series started in 2019 and was only tripped up from being an every year event on the calendar by COVID protocols in 2021. Ohio State won each of the first two games by just two goals, but they did get an 18-11 victory in Columbus last February by scoring nine straight goals in the second half.
Ohio State got off to a 3-0 start this season, and then everything just went straight off a cliff. An 18-10 road loss to USC back on February 19th started off a run of seven losses in eight games. They snapped that run last time out by beating Louisville 16-6, but that game was back on March 28th, and the Buckeyes have not played since.
That Louisville game brings up an interesting note, as Ohio State has played three teams that Marquette has already played as well this season on top of a fourth game against a team that MU will see in Big East play. OSU is 3-0 against opponents that have also played Marquette after beating San Diego State 10-4 in San Diego and beating Cincinnati 13-12 at home in overtime on top of the win against the Cardinals last week. Marquette’s wins against those opponents are, I think we can say, a little bit more impressive: 20-13 over SDSU, 19-13 over UC, and 15-11 over UL. Okay, the Louisville win isn’t more impressive by itself, but as a collection, MU has done better against these three teams. The Big East team on Ohio State’s schedule was Denver, and the top five ranked Pioneers snagged an 11-4 win in Columbus back in February.
There are two women that Marquette has to slow down in order to beat the Buckeyes. The first is Nicole Ferrara, who has put 30 of her team high 54 shots on the season into the net. That’s a team high 30 goals on just 39 shots on goal (which is also a team high), so figuring out a way to just not let Ferrara shoot has to be high on the list of things to do. She’s not the team leader in points, though. That spot is currently occupied by Jamie Lasda, who is #2 in goals with 18, but leads the team with 23 assists for a team high 41 points right now. To give you an idea of how much Ohio State depends on Lasda to generate goals with her passing: Nicole Ferrara is second on the team in assists with seven. The Buckeyes have 50 assists on 121 goals this season, so Lasda has dang near half of all of their assists by herself.
Regan Alexander has played over 600 minutes in net so far this season, so it feels like a safe bet that she’s going to be OSU’s starting goalie on Tuesday. Her goals against average of 11.10 is pretty decent, especially for a team that’s two games under .500 and winless in three tries in Big Ten play. That might speak more to pace of play than anything else, so that might be more of a problem for Marquette than what Alexander can do to keep balls out of her net. She is stopping just 48% of shots on goal to this point of the year, so if Marquette’s offense is making the kinds of plays that they want to make, they should be able to find alleys to beat Alexander regularly.