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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

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Marquette Wire

How buying into team values during offseason has led Marquette to breakout season

Photo by Isabel Bonebrake
Marquette women’s lacrosse celebrates during its ranked win April 15 against then-No. 24 UConn at Valley Fields.

Following locking up the No. 2 seed in last year’s Big East tournament, Marquette women’s lacrosse looked to have positioned itself with a chance to make the championship game in hopes of securing its first conference title.

But that opportunity was yanked away from the Golden Eagles, as they were upset by No. 4 seed Georgetown in the semifinals.

It’s a loss that not only left a sour taste in the mouths of each Marquette player but ignited something amongst the entire team.

“It’s a really good sign when a team can’t let that go,” Marquette head coach Meredith Black said. “That was the difference of last year. Over the summer, I kept hearing about it (and) the team (was) like, ‘That’s never happening again’ or ‘That really made me mad’ or “I’m going to do whatever it takes to not have that same feeling again.'”

This year has indeed been different for Marquette.

The Golden Eagles are off to their best start in program history sitting at 13-1 overall and 3-0 in Big East play. With its most recent win over then-No. 24 UConn April 15, Marquette sits tied in first place with Denver. The win over UConn was the second win against a top 25 team since 2019.

But what’s different from last year?

Black linked it to the team’s connectedness and bond, both of which don’t grow overnight.

The Golden Eagles returned much of their core from last season going into this season, as only a handful of players either graduated or departed from the program.

Senior attacker Shea Garcia said retaining most of last year’s roster has led to the season that Marquette is currently having.

“It’s coming a lot from maturity as players,” Garcia said.”The connection and bond we’ve created over these past years has really started to show.”

The team’s bond is special, but it’s the mentality of this team that sets them apart.

This unwavering determination to win has led Marquette to go from being picked fourth in the preseason coaches poll to now receiving votes and attention on the national level.

“This is different in that no questions asked mentality of just get the job done,” Black said. “They really trust us. They trust each other, and they’re all into the plan. It’s really been a lot of fun, and the veteran leadership has been incredible.”

The journey and buying into the coaching staff’s plan started by splitting the season up into quarters, and each quarter had its own phrase(s).

Following losing eight of its 10 losses on the road last season, the coaching staff implemented road warriors as the main phase through the fall season.

Garcia said this brought the team closer together as they worked on this mentality all fall.

“I’ve had some pretty tough falls,” Garcia said. “Our run tests, conditioning and lifts, that stuff is where the bond has started because we’ve all had each other’s backs and want to push each other to pass the run test or run another sprint. That’s really honestly where the bond has started.”

Now, in a new quarter, there are three core phrases: road warriors, upshift and be the one.

These three phrases have thus far translated into Marquette’s success.

On top of breaking program records such as most wins in a season and goals scored in a singular game amongst others, Marquette holds an undefeated 6-0 road record.

“It’s gives us three things to focus on. That needs to be your mentality,” sophomore goalie Brynna Nixon said. “All three of those is how we’re going to be successful in games and how we’re going to move on and win.”

Since the beginning of the season, the Golden Eagles have had something to prove. Being constantly underestimated since last season, the team took it to heart.

“(It) lets us prove them wrong. It’s one of those things where we know our identity isn’t in what they say, but what we continually prove every single day and they haven’t seen that this off-season,” senior defender Ellie Henry said.

Marquette was able to move past that and open the season 3-0 for the first time in program history. Even after losing to Northwestern, the team didn’t let it keep them down, letting it fuel a 10-game win streak, doubling the previous program record.

As they continue to take down high-profile opponents, including both Georgetown and No.24 UConn, the team doesn’t let it affect the next game.

“We allow our team to celebrate until midnight, whatever that day is, and we tell them enjoy it, celebrate it, embrace it, think about things you did well, and that you want to be happy about,” Black said. “And then come midnight, it’s sort of the Cinderella thing, you’re turning back into a pumpkin. So you gotta get refocused for the next step or the next practice or whatever comes next.”

But through and through, Marquette’s current win streak goes back to the team’s obligation to each other.

“Something we really focused on is making sure everyone feels like an equal, no matter whether you play the whole 60 minutes or you don’t step on the field or you’re injured,” Garcia said. “But knowing that they are so important has been a really big focus.”

Even outside of the Valley Fields dome, the team has stayed connected and bought in, whether that be through a group chat or team lunches.

“We all have a Snapchat group chat, which has been a lot of fun. We’ve never done that in years past,” Garcia said. “It’s not one big force thing, but everyone wants to do it.”

The charge is led by upperclassmen leadership.

Thirty-five members make up the Golden Eagles roster, with over a third of those being either seniors or fifth-year players.

Black said with a heavy veteran presence, has produced a wave of standards.

“They’ve been like, ‘This is our standard and we’re all doing it,'” Black said. “And everyone’s like, ‘Yep, sounds good.’ So goal driven. Everyone’s willing to do what they got to do to own their role.”

Nixon said that senior leaders are paving the way for the rest of the squad.

“They brought our team together. Honestly, the whole team looks up to that senior group,” Nixon said. “I couldn’t be more proud of the seniors so far. We’re honestly just playing for them at this point.”

As the Golden Eagles embark on their final road trip of the year, the dream of winning the Big East comes closer and closer. They have a chance to win it all in front of a home crowd against Denver in the regular season finale.

No matter what or when the season might end, Marquette will look for a way to win and do it together as one.

“We have something to prove this year,” Garcia said. “We still continue to have something to prove because we’re not where we even want to be. … I think just leaning on each other and having a lot of trust has brought us a big, long way.”

This story was written by Emma Kroll. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @emma_kroll_.

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About the Contributor
Emma Kroll
Emma Kroll, Executive Social Media Producer
Emma Kroll is a sophomore from Janesville, Wisconsin studying journalism and public relations and is the Executive Social Media Producer of the Marquette Wire for the 2023-2024 school year. Prior to this position, she served as a sports reporter. Outside of the Wire, she enjoys spending time with her fellow Alpha Chis, exploring her community, and spending time outdoors. She is excited to start this new role and be creative in her reporting.

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