Women’s lacrosse faces ranked teams again

Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics
Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics

For the second consecutive weekend, the Marquette women’s lacrosse team will face two of the deBeer Women’s Media Poll top 20 teams in No. 19 Connecticut and No. 5 Syracuse.

Marquette is 0-3 this season against ranked teams. Two such games took place this past weekend, against No. 17 Loyola and No. 8 Georgetown.

The 2-12 Golden Eagles have struggled thus far this season, specifically on offense. In Sunday’s game against the Greyhounds, they were only able to tally two goals in 60 minutes of play.  If they want to put up a fight against ranked opponents, they will have to increase their intensity on offense, limit transition opportunities and take control of the possession battle.

Playing ranked teams is a tough challenge for first-year programs, but coach Meredith Black is excited to face top-tier competition.

“Regardless of the outcomes of any of the games, I think this is the best competition we could possibly play, and it’s going to get us to where we need to be some day,” Black said.

Connecticut boasts a balanced offense and defense.  Its 18th-ranked offense scores 13.17 goals per game and will be a handful for the Marquette defense and starting goaltender Sarah Priem. Black believes her team is up for the challenge.

“They’re tough,” Black said.  “They are having a great season, they have a great coach. They’re going to be a really tough competition for us.”

Even if Marquette is able to limit the Huskies’ offense, it will have to beat a strong defense that is ranked No. 21 in the nation with 8.92 goals against per game. Since possession has been hard to come by for the Golden Eagles, keeping the ball is key.

“If we get the possession we’ll be OK,” Black said. “We need to limit the mistakes and get possession in order to give ourselves a chance.”

Following the Connecticut game, the team will head north for a battle against the Orange.

At 10-3 , Syracuse is one of the best teams in the country this year. Its offense, ranked No. 6 with 14.83 goals per game, is one the best around and will be Marquette’s toughest match-up this season. Two of the top point producers in the nation, Alyssa Murray and Michelle Tumolo, will hassle the defense and push it to its limits.

On defense, the Orange will keep the Marquette attack at bay. With Syracuse ranked No. 33 in goals against this season, the struggling Golden Eagle offense will have a tough time maintaining possession and even getting shots off. If they can hold the ball, limit mistakes and disrupt Syracuse’s offensive rhythm, they can potentially keep up with Syracuse.

“We have to be able to slow them down and get possession and be able to limit their opportunities,” Black said.

One game remains following the weekend against No. 7 Notre Dame, and despite being the underdog in all three games, Marquette is determined to end the season on a high note.

“I want to go out with a bang,” Black said. “There’re three more games, and I want to use those to help the team grow and get better and just continue to get to where we want to be in the Big East and in the nation.”