Black faces alma mater in final game of inaugural season

The final game of the women’s lacrosse team’s inaugural season against No. 9 Notre Dame will serve as the Golden Eagles’ final chance to prove themselves.

Coach Meredith Black played all four years of her college career at Notre Dame and was the first all-American in the program’s history. She also led her team to NCAA Championship appearances in 2002 and 2004. Following her playing career, Black worked as an assistant coach for the Fighting Irish from 2008-2010.

“It’ll be a homecoming in a sense,” Black said. “It will be just a really good day, and I think we can compete against them.”

The game is the team’s fifth straight against a ranked opponent. After starting 2-2, the team dropped 12 consecutive games. Lack of possession plagued the offense, as the team has struggled to keep the ball in the opponent’s end.

One positive part of the team has been freshman goaltender Sarah Priem, who is tied for No. 13 nationally in saves this season. She has faced a lot of shots and has played well all season between the pipes.

The Golden Eagles will likely struggle against the Notre Dame defense. Ranked No. 24 with 8.93 goals allowed per game, the Fighting Irish defense has been hot this season, and Marquette’s offense will have to find a way to keep possession and take the ball to the net if it wants to end the season on a high note.

“Offensively we need to possess the ball,” Black said. “We just have to have possession, and we have to keep possession, and we have to make smart choices and go for 90 percent opportunities.”

Defense has been Marquette’s strong suit this season, but the Golden Eagles will have to play their best if they want to contain the Notre Dame attack. The Fighting Irish rank No. 24 offensively with 12.71 goals per game. The Golden Eagles will need their defenders and Priem to step up and cause turnovers if they hope to compete with Notre Dame.

“Our defense is tough,” Black said. “If we play hard, I think we’ll be able to slow them down. We’re not going to stop them – they’re going to score on us – but I do think we’ll be able to slow them down a little bit if we give our best effort and if we hustle.”

Though it has been a rough season for the first-year program, Black said she is happy with the way the team has improved.

“I know our record isn’t great, but we’ve had a lot of little victories along the way,” Black said. “I can’t even tell you how much our team has improved over the year. It’s mind-blowing.”