2023 NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Tournament
Marquette Golden Eagles (15-3, 5-1 Big East) vs Richmond Spiders (16-3, 8-1 Atlantic 10)
Date: Friday, May 12, 2023
Time: 4pm Central
Location: Dorrance Field, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Live Stats: Stat Broadcast
Twitter Updates: @MarquetteWLax
All-Time Series: This is the first ever meeting.
And here we are, with the best season in Marquette women’s lacrosse history adding one more thing to its already historic nature. Friday will be the first NCAA tournament game in program history, as the Golden Eagles have earned their way into the field by way of an at-large bid. Heck, even just the at-large bid part of it is historic for Marquette Lacrosse, as Joe Amplo’s men’s lacrosse teams got in by way of two Big East tournament championships. Friday will be just one more step down a path that was dreamt about and envisioned way back when Marquette started the process of organizing a program back in 2010. No matter what happens on Friday, it’s a special day in Milwaukee.
Maybe it will be a very special day, as Marquette has never won an NCAA tournament game in men’s or women’s lacrosse. It will require the Golden Eagles to do something that they haven’t done all season, believe it or not, but that’s more a proof of how good the team has been. MU comes in with just three losses on the year, but two of them have been in MU’s last two games. No shock that they lost, falling to a still-undefeated Denver team to end the regular season and losing on the road to a ranked UConn team in the Big East semifinals. Marquette hasn’t been asked to bounce back from consecutive losses all season, but that’s a good thing, and they probably wouldn’t be in the NCAA tournament if that was the case. Still, it’s something that they have to mentally do, and tangling with the #17 team in the country isn’t going to make that climb easier.
Marquette brings three of the most potent offensive seasons in program history with them to North Carolina. Mary Schumar (20 goals, 69 assists) and Lydia Foust (58G, 15A) have both surpassed the previous program record of 67 points in a season, which was tied by Schumar last year. She’s gone rocketing past it this season, and Foust had a big day in the Big East semifinals to clear it last time out. In addition to those two, Meg Bireley (44G, 20A) has moved into the top seven all-time, and a four point day from her against Richmond would get her past the previous record as well. Marquette has been stacking up these points by being careful with the ball and playing with an attacking mindset. While their efficiency has suffered a little bit as of late, Lacrosse Reference still has MU #14 in the country in turnover rate and #8 in pacing. You can force them into problems, of course, Denver did to the tune of 11 turnovers in the first quarter, but that didn’t decide that game. Falling behind doesn’t necessarily doom this team either, as the Big East semifinal proved when MU scored seven unanswered goals in a hurry to tie the game in the fourth quarter. At a glance, it looks like Marquette’s offense may be poised to have a big day against Richmond, as LaxRef has the Spiders ranked #55 in the country in defensive efficiency. Part of that comes down to that tried but true statistic: Save Percentage. Goalie Emilie Bloyer has played the most minutes this season for Richmond, but she’s stopping just 37% of shots on frame. Daniela Stelcer has been the beneficiary of the Spiders getting out to some noticeable leads in terms of minutes played, but her 38% save percentage isn’t causing head coach Anne Harrington a lot of hard decisions in terms of who her starter is.
On the other end of the field, Marquette’s #47 defense is going to be tested and tested often. Lindsey Frank and Colleen Quinn are both north of 50 goals this season and have both recorded more points than any Golden Eagle other than Schumar. Arden Tierney has a team high 85 points by way of splitting things pretty evenly between goals (45) and assists (a team high 40). There are three more women with at least 25 goals this season, which means they’re north of a strike per game. Richmond has only scored 36 of their 317 team goals from the free position, so they’re getting things by way of run of play. I don’t know if that’s good or bad for Marquette, but giving Richmond free swings at goalie Brynna Nixon probably isn’t a good plan anyway. Marquette has had to grit out some games this season, so it is possible for the defense to make a stand. Can they do it when the lights are shining the brightest is the question, and one that we’ll have to wait til Friday afternoon to get an answer.