clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The 2024 Marquette Women’s Lacrosse Season Preview: The Freshmen

11 new faces on the roster, all on their first year of collegiate eligibility. Will anyone break through to make an impact right away?

Marquette’s Mikayla Yang
Look, if Marquette is going to make the pictures in the aluminum box available, like this one of freshman goalie Mikayla Yang, I should use them, right?
Marquette University

Hi!

Welcome back to our Marquette women’s lacrosse season preview! We’ve already talked about the players that are returning from last year’s NCAA tournament team, and if you haven’t checked that out, you should fix that problem immediately.

This time around, we’re going to talk about the new faces on the roster this spring, and for head coach Meredith Black’s team, they’re all freshmen. As we pointed out in the returning player rundown, there are some spots where Marquette clearly has holes to fill, or at the very least a spot where someone has to step up and fill in what was lost from departing seniors. Odds are that we’ll see more than one of these women we’re about to talk about pop up and play a role along the way as 2024 goes along.

Let’s get to it!

ATTACK

Marquette has two true attackers amongst their freshmen this season, and three women who are listed as attack/midfield. At a glance — and we’ll get into it — I suspect it has to do with figuring out what roles on the roster that they’re best suited for at the collegiate level more than anything else.

In any case, it would appear that Eileen Dooley (5’8”; Evanston, Illinois; #14) jumps off the page as having the most interesting prep career. She put up 65 goals and 36 assists as a senior at Loyola Academy, which earned her US Lacrosse All-American attention. She also won two state titles along the way. Dooley, the younger sister of MU defender Maeve Dooley and high school/club teammate of fellow freshman Riley Jenkins, also had 26 ground balls, 16 caused turnovers, and 37 draw controls as a senior, so she’s got the potential to impact the Golden Eagles in multiple fashions.

Riley Schultz (5’8”; Castle Rock, Colorado; #18) made the most of the time she was given during her time at Castle View High School, throwing in 130 goals in just 46 career games. I’m not a super genius, but averaging 2.83 goals per game is good, and I’m guessing that’s understating her impact as her career went on. Then again, Schultz was a two-time Under Armour All-American, so maybe not.

Dooley and Schultz are the two pure attackers in the class, and my “but there’s nothing mentioned in their official team bios about their high school scoring abilities” eye twitch pops back when I think about the three attack/midfield players. Yes, it’s good that CJ Meehan (5’3”; Highlands Ranch, Colorado; #5) was a three-time all-state honoree, with a Second Team in between two Honorable mentions. Yes, it’s very interesting that Shannon Murphy (5’3”; Grand Rapids, Michigan; #19) was a two-time all-state performer in lacrosse in addition to a all-state second team honor in field hockey as a senior. I do think that Nina Winter (6’0”; Prior Lake, Minnesota; #26) getting US Lacrosse All-American status as a senior to go with her all-state First Team honors and two state titles is very good. But I don’t have any indication immediately obvious as to how much offense these women directly contributed to their teams. Scoring isn’t the most important thing on the field, sure. But it’s kind of important when you’re an attacker, yeah?

We know that Marquette’s going to need scoring to come from somewhere that it didn’t come from last year with the departures of Mary Schumar, Lydia Foust, Shea Garcia, and Emma Soccodato. It feels like at least one of these women might be this year’s Tess Osburn, who had 34 goals and seven assists as a freshman last year. Which one? I don’t know.

MIDFIELD

There’s some pretty strong competition amongst Marquette’s newest midfielders for the best sounding prep career. Lauren Grady (5’6”; Charlottesville, Virginia, #10) put up 100 points and 100 draw controls in both her junior and senior seasons at Albermarle High School, and we do know that Marquette would benefit from having another reliable option taking draws this season. Riley Jenkins (5’9”; Winnetka, Illinois; #20) has that built in championship winning history from winning two state titles at Loyola Academy while playing with fellow freshman Eileen Dooley, and she earned all-state honors her last two campaigns as well.

But I think the top prize goes to Sarah Beth Burns (5’11”; Louisville, Kentucky; #21) if for no other reason that she was Kentucky’s Miss Lacrosse at the end of her senior season. Hard to beat “best player in the state” as an honor, although I think it is a safe bet that Grady had a lot more competition in Virginia. Burns earned all-Kentucky honors three times, including being named Midfielder of the Year twice, and she was named tournament MVP as a junior when Kentucky Country Day won one of the two state titles while Burns was on the roster. All in all, that’s pretty dang impressive, even if my “but wait, the scoring?” eye twitch has come roaring back to ask questions.

DEFENSE

I took one look at the listed height for Riley Leversedge (5’2”; Denver, Colorado; #7), saw she was listed as a defender, and thought “oh, she must be mean as hell.” We might want to check with fellow Coloradoans and freshman MU attackers Riley Schultz and CJ Meehan to be sure, but yep, Leversedge’s bio makes it clear that she’s mean on the field. She earned First Team all-state honors twice while Colorado Academy was winning four straight 5A state titles during her time on the roster. I suspect those two things are strongly intertwined.

Mary Velner (5’7”, Edina, Minnesota, #37) earned all-state honors twice as well, and she picked up all-tournament team honors in 2023 when Edina High made a run to the Minnesota state title game before losing. That’s not too bad, but I think that both Velner and Leversedge are going to have a hard time cracking the experienced crew of defenders that Marquette brings back from last season. Then again, better is better, and if head coach Meredith Black thinks she can get one step quicker on defense with one of the freshmen, then that’s the move, seniority or not.

GOALKEEPER

Marquette adds a freshman to their netminder room in Mikayla Yang (5’7”; Tustin, California; #17). She doesn’t have an official team biography that knocks your socks off, but Yang did tend the net when her high school won three sectional titles. Brynna Nixon is the clear starter for 2024 based on what we saw from the two returning netminders last year, but Yang is a question mark, of course. I wouldn’t expect her to be able to steal the starting job right out of the gate..... but as noted in the returning players piece, I don’t think I’ve seen Nixon in what MU has shared on social media since October even though she is on the roster. If she is unavailable for whatever reason, I wonder how close Yang would be to hurdling Ava Sprinkel for the starting job.