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The 2024 Marquette Women’s Lacrosse Season Preview: Three Questions

The Golden Eagles are coming off the most successful season in program history. What’s next?

Meredith Black
What’s up next for head coach Meredith Black after the most successful season in program history?
Marquette University

We’re just about up to the start of the 2024 Marquette women’s lacrosse season! The rubber hits the road for real on Sunday, but before we get to previewing the first game of the year, we have to ask three big questions facing head coach Meredith Black and her team right now.

QUESTION #1: Where does Marquette go from here?

2023 saw a lot. New program record for wins. New program record for consecutive wins. New program record for wins to start a season. New program records for points, goals, and assists as a team in a season. New program records for points, goals, and assists by a player in a season. First two players to ever hit 200 career points. New program record for assists in a career. First ever top 25 ranking. First ever NCAA tournament appearance.

In a lot of ways, it was the culmination of everything that Meredith Black was hired to do in February 2011.

But that wasn’t the end of the program. Far from it. We’re going to still have lacrosse again this spring, and that means a whole new set of challenges, and pretty much every coach in every collegiate sport will tell you that every team is different from year to year, no matter how many players you retain.

So what’s next? How does Marquette build on what happened in 2023? How do they take the historic nature of that season and start pushing towards making that commonplace instead of the best thing that’s ever happened? It’s not going to be a linear solution, Marquette isn’t going to suddenly be favored to win the Big East and advance in the NCAA tournament just because they had a great year last year. Maybe they’re going to take a step back this season. This is more of an open ended question with an answer past May 2024, but it’s one that’s clearly hanging in the air for the Golden Eagles right now.

QUESTION #2: Who’s going to score for this team?

In 2023, Marquette had eight women tally at least 20 goals. Those women are the same eight women that had at least four assists, and the same eight that had at least 10 points, even though none of them had less than 29. Only four of those women return for 2024.

Obviously then, we can logically expect Meg Bireley (44 goals, 21 assists), Tess Osburn (34 & 7), Leigh Steiner (24 & 12), and Hannah Greving (20 & 9) to all go a long way towards answering this question this spring. However, there’s going to have to be several players stepping forward into the vacancies left behind by the departures of Mary Schumar, Shea Garcia, Lydia Foust, and Emma Soccodato. MU just isn’t going to be able to get four people to do eight people’s worth of work, y’know? To that point: Marquette had seven women put up at least 26 points in 2022, and in 2021, the Golden Eagles fell just one point from Madison Kane short from having eight women put up at least 20 points.

In other words: The points have to come from somewhere, and the nature of Meredith Black’s system in the recent past is to have a lot of people posing a notable threat. But who is it going to be? Isabelle Casucci had seven goals on 11 shots in nine games played last year, so she seems like an obvious possibility. Samantha Galvin had four goals and three assists in 2022 before taking a step back in playing time last year. Hanna Bodner has scored five goals and an assist in 11 appearances over the past two years. Freshmen Eileen Dooley and Riley Schultz come in with impressive prep program scoring numbers. These all seem like easy to spot possibilities, but it could be anyone with attack or midfield next to their name on the roster.

QUESTION #3: Can this team make a postseason appearance for a program record third straight season?

In 2018, Marquette made their first ever postseason appearance, qualifying for the Big East tournament. One year later, they were back in the conference tournament thanks to beating a ranked foe for the first time ever.

The pandemic ended the 2020 season long before the postseason to break that streak on a yearly basis, and a 4-6 mark in Big East action in 2021 wasn’t good enough to qualify in 2021 to officially end the run at two consecutive postseasons that existed. But they went back to the Big East tournament in 2022 and then again in 2023 before getting an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament last spring as well.

If Marquette goes to the four team Big East tournament this spring, it will be the third consecutive season of postseason play, a new program record. The Big East coaches don’t project the Golden Eagles to do that, tabbing them to finish fifth this year. While Marquette was the #2 seed at 5-1 last year, Villanova was the #4 with a record of 3-3. Going 3-3 in Big East play is not a large hill to climb, not with Butler and Xavier expected to duel it out for the bottom two spots in the standings. Beat those two teams and find a way to win at least one game against UConn/Villanova/Georgetown, and ta-da, that’s at least 3-3. Yes, I am writing off the possibility of beating preseason #4 Denver. It’s not because I think Marquette can’t do it — although the Pioneers won 12-5 last season — it’s because we’re talking about doing the bare minimum to qualify for the conference tournament.

Can they do it? Well, it’s going to take finding those other scorers as mentioned above, of course, but it’s within this team’s grasp.