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Fran Meyer anchors transitioning WLax Defense

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Fran Meyer stretches out to intercept a pass against Florida.

Fran Meyer stretches out to intercept a pass against Florida.

Photo by Austin Anderson

Photo by Austin Anderson

Fran Meyer stretches out to intercept a pass against Florida.

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For the past four seasons, defense has been the women’s lacrosse team’s strong suit. The team was led by standout starters Elizabeth Goslee and Kayce Haverstick, who started every game together for four years. Since the pair graduated last spring, Marquette is experiencing the growing pains you’d expect from a defense in transition.

Helping alleviate their absence is the lone returning defender who started every game last season, Fran Meyer. The senior captain has stepped into a new leadership role, anchoring the defense in a new era.

“She’s unbelievable, just so athletic and strong. She’s capable of stopping really anyone,” head coach Meredith Black said.

She leads the team in caused turnovers with 25, good for second in all of the BIG EAST and has scooped up 28 ground balls as well. Meyer’s age all but forced her to be a leader this season, and the Oak Brook, Illinois, native said it has been a whole new experience.

“Last year, I got to coast under Kayce and Biz and just let them tell me what to do,” Meyer said. “This year, I know everyone is relying on me, and that’s been really hard on me personally, but I try not to show that to them.”

“Everyone has made it a lot easier on me by asking questions, and they’ve really pushed me to grow as a leader.”

The Golden Eagles are 4-9 on the season and 2-3 in BIG EAST play, and many of the team defensive numbers have fallen. The defense has given up 14.57 goals per game, four goals more than their average of 10.41 in 2016.

That can partially be chalked up to Marquette facing one of the tougher schedules in the country. Seven of Marquette’s losses have come against ranked opponents, not making it any easier on the inexperienced defense.

The Golden Eagles are allowing teams to go on long unanswered runs. In their most recent contest, they found themselves down seven goals against Denver before their offense scored. Meyer said defensively, they have performed well during stretches of games, but have struggled playing complete games consistently.

“A lot of it is our mentality, and we’ve been working on it,” Meyer said. “Against great teams we can’t go down six or seven goals and expect to come back.”

Causing 25 turnovers this year, Meyer has certainly done her part defensively. She said she realizes how important it is to cause at least a couple turnovers during games in order to gain momentum.

“I don’t focus on the stats, but I know my teammates really appreciate it when I cause turnovers,” Meyer said. “It’s my teammates who push me, so I just go out and try and do it for them.”

“She initiates our offense because of her caused turnovers,” Black said. “She really helps us in a lot of situations.”

If the team wants to reach the BIG EAST Tournament for the first time in program history, it will likely be because of their defense. With four games left in BIG EAST play, the team sits in sixth place, two spots out of postseason play. Marquette still controls its own destiny, and having already played three of the best teams in conference, the team is in good position to make a run. Meyer said defensively, they must demand excellence from one another to win their last few games.

“We notice if we are demanding each other to do things, we see success,” Meyer said. “It’s when we get really tired in games that that goes down, and we lose confidence in ourselves. So, I think we will see success if we continue to communicate.”

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