Golden Eagles earn first BIG EAST win of the season

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Photo by John Leuzzi

Marquette women’s lacrosse celebrates after a goal in its 19-14 win over Villanova April 9.

After losing in its BIG EAST opener to UConn April 2, the Marquette women’s lacrosse team entered Saturday looking to get back on track as against the Villanova Wildcats at Valley Fields.

Behind a career-best four goals from first year attacker/midfielder Meg Bireley, the Golden Eagles earned their first BIG EAST win of the season defeating the Wildcats by a score of 19-14.

“(I’m) really proud of my team,” Marquette head coach Meredith Black said. “We’ve been working really hard and the girls are so committed and it was a team effort (today). A lot of people scoring, defense making stops, and I say this to the team but I can’t say this enough, every single person plays such an important role on our team and winning games.”

Marquette got out to a hot start in the first quarter, getting out to a 5-0 lead with 8:24 left in the first quarter. That run was powered by Bireley and junior midfielder Emma Soccodato finding the back of the net.

The two sides would trade goals in the final seven minutes of the quarter, including Soccodato’s second of the frame. Marquette went into the second quarter up 7-2.

Villanova got its offense rolling in the second quarter as they potted three of the first four goals of the frame, with two coming from first year attacker Sydney Pappas. Pappas’s goal brought the Marquette lead to 8-5 with 9:09 left in the quarter.

Marquette would then end a nearly five minute scoring drought with Bireley’s first career hat trick before putting in two more past senior goalkeeper Alexa Moro to increase the Golden Eagle lead to 11-5 with 2:25 left.

“I think it was a little of us slowing down our speed of play, both with our feet and the ball,” Black said. “It’s a long game for 60 minutes and we have to be able to keep that up, but in that span we sort of just let up just a little bit, took our foot off the pedal just enough to not be able to find the back of the net.”

Both sides scored a goal in the final two minutes of the half, before Marquette entered halftime leading 12-6. In each of its four home games, the Golden Eagles have led after the first 30 minutes.

After Villanova striking first in the third quarter, the Golden Eagles turned up their defense by holding the Wildcats scoreless for the remainder of the frame.

“Our D has this gritty mindset so I think they just dug in and that’s the kind of term we use is ‘Dig In’ and dig, dig, dig and I think we know our third quarters is a time where a team could close that gap a little bit and while our offense wasn’t scoring every time but our D was like ‘that’s not gonna happen,” Black said.

Graduate student attacker Kyra LaMotte and senior attacker Shea Garcia would add three goals for Marquette in the quarter to enter the fourth leading 15-7.

Villanova would try to mount a comeback in the fourth quarter, scoring four of the first five goals of the final frame to bring the deficit to 16-11 with 9:59 left in the quarter.

Senior midfielder Lydia Foust scored her second of the day to push the lead back to six goals, 17-11 with 7:34 left in the quarter.

Villanova continued to chip away as the Wildcats trimmed the deficit to four following goals from Megan Reilly and Sami Carey, but that would as close as they would get as Bireley and Garica added two more goals to seal the win for Marquette.

Bireley finished the afternoon with five points on the day with four goals and an assist.

“It feels good to be able to help our team do that and also offensively we were moving without the ball really well, moving really fast and it creates openings for everybody,” Bireley said.

LaMotte followed Bireley with four goals, while Garcia finished with three goals and two assists of her own.

In between the pipes for Marquette, graduate student goalkeeper Amanda Rumsey made six saves on 20 shots (30% save percentage).

Marquette will have three more conference home games, the next coming against the Butler Bulldogs on Saturday April 16 at 12 p.m. CST.

“Same thing we have been working on is just hustle, hustle has been our major focus every single day for the past three weeks,” Black said. “We gotta hustle and we got to work hard, we gotta win the hustle battles which is like ground balls and another thing we need to do is limit our turnovers.”

This story was written by Jackson Gross. He can be reached at jackson.gross@marquette.edu or on Twitter @JacksonGrossMU