Women’s lacrosse face tough opponents early in the season

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Courtesy of Marquette Images

Courtesy of Marquette Images

The women’s lacrosse team comes into the season trying to build off its accomplishments last campaign.

In 2013, the Golden Eagles made their debut on the D-I scene going 2-15, ending the year on a 13-game losing streak. Despite the record, the team believes it laid the foundation for future success.

“The biggest thing about last year was getting all the first year jitters out of the way,” coach Meredith Black said. “Now step two is about starting to compete in some of these games.”

Marquette needs to be ready from the first whistle, as the team begins the season at traditional lacrosse powerhouse Johns Hopkins, followed by a trip to the seven-time national champion Northwestern Wildcats.  The team then travels to Michigan and Detroit before its home opener against Duquesne March 7. While the early season is difficult, Black said she is confident ahead of the early season slate.

“My approach is to be the best, you have to play the best,” she said. “It’s going to make us better, and at this point, it’s not necessarily about winning by a lot, but going out there and seeing what we can do.”

To have success, the Golden Eagles will rely on defense, anchored by sophomore goalkeeper Sarah Priem. The team’s most valuable player for the 2013 season started all 17 games last season, tallying a .376 save percentage. The team looks to improve in this area after opposing teams netted an average of 15 goals per game.

“I think that the defense worked really hard last year, and they continue to do so this year,” Priem said. “Without them, I wouldn’t have been where I was last year, so we just continue to push each other.”

On the offensive side, the Golden Eagles look to bolster an attack that averaged 6.2 goals a game in the team’s inaugural season. Marquette received big scoring contributions from sophomore midfielders Kenzie Brown and Hayley Baas. The duo netted 24 and 21 goals, respectively. Fellow sophomore attacker Claire Costanza led the team with 40 points.

The addition of five freshmen attackers will give Black options at the position. In total, the Golden Eagles welcome 15 freshman to the team, most notably attacker Rebecca Putna of the Australian U-23 Women’s National Team. The Golden Eagles are quickly becoming a nationally recognized program, as they have players representing 14 different states. In the freshman class alone, seven hail from the East Coast.

“About half our team is from the East Coast, so they’ll go back and if they have a good experience, then it’s going to grow within their area,” Black said. “But I think we’re doing a good job of getting our name out there.”

When the Golden Eagles step foot on the field against Northwestern in their second game of the season, they will look at a program that was in a similar position just 10 years ago. The Wildcats finished their first season 5-10 in 2002. By 2005, they were national champions. While it is a long road ahead, Marquette is well on its way to cementing a place in the women’s college lacrosse landscape.

“You have to live through some growing pains in order to get where you want to get,” Black said. “But if you keep your head down, and keep on the grind, then I thinks it’s possible.”

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