Menzuber, attack look forward to big season with Gabriel in the shadows

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Megan Menzuber cradles the ball in the head of her lacrosse stick. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

For the first time in three years, Marquette women’s lacrosse team will enter the season without a definitive go-to scorer.

Grace Gabriel had taken on that role since her sophomore season playing at Valley Fields. She has now graduated after making all 52 possible starts over the last three seasons, finishing with 175 career goals. Gabriel did not start any games in 2017.

“We lost our Markus Howard, it is simple as that,” head coach Meredith Black said.

The Lancaster, New York, native was a Second Team All-American, three-time All-BIG EAST First Team honoree and the 2019 BIG EAST Co-Midfielder of the Year. She also set the single-season record for goals in program history during her time as a Golden Eagle.

Gabriel is not the only top scorer the Golden Eagles will be without this year, as Charlotte McGuire is no longer around either. The pair finished as the Golden Eagles’ top two scorers and in the top four in the BIG EAST last season.

“We have lost a huge chunk of our scoring, but when you lose your two key players you have to lean on everybody else and every single player will be playing a big role, and that is pretty cool,” Black said. “Even in the past without even saying it, we relied on those two … to get those points.”

With the loss of Gabriel and McGuire, one of the players the Golden Eagles will rely on this season is senior attack Megan Menzuber.

In her junior season last year, Menzuber finished third on the team in goals with 32. Black said she has high confidence Menzuber will make a big impact this season.

“Her impact will be with goals of course and numbers on the board, but I just think she is an outstanding leader,” Black said.”She is one of a kind.”

Black named Menzuber one of three captains for this season Dec. 18, along with senior goalie Julianna Horning and graduate student defense Kaitlyn Viviano.

Menzuber said her leadership among the other attackers off the field is as important as on the field.

“One of the big things is to build up their confidence off the field,” Menzuber said. “Something that I like to do is build a foundation and good relationship so that gives them the connection with me and the other attackers.” 

Preparing for her senior season, the Chanhassen, Minnesota, native has been working on developing a different side of her play.

“For me, I have been working on becoming more dynamic and trying to fill the shoes of all the girls that left last season,” Menzuber said. “Just working on becoming more of a scoring threat this year.”

Despite Menzuber wanting to be that scoring threat, Black said she sees her senior captain making an additional impact in another way.

“She is going to make everyone around her better,” Black said. “So if she is putting the ball in the back of the net, great, but if not, she is probably having an impact on the person who put the ball in the back of the net.”

Aside from Menzuber, there are five other potential key players Black believes will help fill the shoes of Gabriel: sophomore attack Shea Garcia, first-year midfield Hannah Greving, junior midfield Madison Kane, first-year attack Mary Schumar, junior midfield Caroline Steller and first-year attack Emma Soccodato.

Garcia, the reigning BIG EAST Freshman of the Year, scored 29 goals and collected 38 points last season for the Golden Eagles.

Meanwhile, Kane returns as a starter from last year’s team. The Chicago native totaled 23 points notching 14 goals and nine assists along with 12 ground balls and five forced turnovers. Black believes Kane will make a big impact this season.

She brings a lot of athleticism to the midfield,” Black said. “She is a stud. She is a great athlete and really good on both sides of the ball. She is a strong 1-v-1 driver.” 

Steller, the Havertown, Pennsylvania, native, finished sixth on the team in goals with 15 and appeared in all 18 games for the Golden Eagles last season. Menzuber sees Steller having a crucial role in her junior campaign.

Greving, Schumar and Soccodato have all stood out in offseason training, both Black and Menzuber said.

Horning said she sees the squad’s draw team playing a big part for Marquette’s offense this season as well.

“Our draw team like Ellie Henry, Emily Cooper, Erin Dowdle have just formed really great connections, and I think that is going to be very helpful because Grace was a great contributor on the draw as well which made it part of our offense,” Horning said. 

Menzuber said this year’s offense is a little different from past years.

“All of us attackers this year are more dynamic, so we will have to do different things,” Menzuber said. “We are shaping our offense to run a little different to use each and every player. I believe all seven players on the attack at a time will be crucial for us.”

Uncertainty aside, Black said she has optimism for her attackers’ and midfielders’ scoring abilities even with Gabriel and McGuire gone.

“It is amazing how the team has responded without playing a game yet,” Black said. “You no longer can rely on a specific person in the pinch, so everyone will have to step up, and they have and they will in various ways. It creates a higher level of a sense of urgency for everyone else, and they will do it and rise to the challenge.”

 

This article was written by John Leuzzi. He can be reached at john.leuzzi@marquette.edu or on Twitter @JohnleuzziMU.