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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

A young roster of ‘LAX rats’ look to build off historic season

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Marquette held an open scrimmage Feb. 4 at Valley Fields. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

Marquette women’s lacrosse spent all of last season beating expectations.

Picked to finish fourth in the 2023 Big East Preseason Coaches’ Poll, the Golden Eagles earned a program-record 15 wins, their second-ever ranked victory and even had the No. 2 offense in the country at one point. The year was so good, Marquette made its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance.

But now, the Golden Eagles have a clean slate and a new squad.

The roster has been switched around a good deal since last spring and the current group has been voted fifth in the Big East Preseason Poll out of seven teams.

“We have a different team this year,” head coach Meredith Black said. “We lost a couple of big, high-minute players, and we have a very young team this year. We have great skill and we’re going to have to learn from our mistakes a lot. We have to be able to overcome those mistakes.”

Here’s a layout of what the team will look like and their expectations for the 2024 season:

Attack

The Golden Eagles lost a key attacker to the offseason in Mary Schumar. The graduate was not only named the team MVP for two consecutive seasons, but also led the country last year for most assists (69).

The team has two new first-year faces and four returning attackers looking to fill Schumar’s position.

One of those four is sophomore attacker Tess Osburn, who finished her debut season with 41 points (34 goals, seven assists) and 19 ground balls. She featured mainly as a floater, where this year she is going to be seen up top.

“She’ll have a good year,” Black said. “Tess has had so much success off of a lot of cuts last year, so we need to make sure she can score in other ways too. It’s like, ‘How dynamic can we be and how much of a threat can we be?'”

Even though she was named the team’s most improved, Osburn said she has many things she still wants to improve on.

“I do have a lot more to go,” Osburn said. “Right now, my biggest focus is my right to left down the alley. When I get my left hand stronger, I feel like I will be able to do more around the field.” 

Midfield

Even with the departure of Lydia Foust and Shea Garcia, the two highest goal scorers from last season respectively, the Golden Eagles aim to mirror 2023’s efficient offense.

Junior midfielder/attacker Leigh Steiner will be key to achieving this goal as the two-time captain who was recently named to the Preseason All-Big East Team. The Minnesota native holds the No. 8 all-time in free position goals for the Golden Eagles with 38. 

Steiner said the group has something to prove from last year and their chemistry will be a key factor in their success.

“We definitely set really big standards for ourselves from last year going into this year,” Steiner said. “But this year, the biggest thing is making a lot of connections. We might be a younger team, but this fall we put in a lot of work making those connections all the way from freshman to fifth year.”

Along with many others, the midfield group contains junior midfielder/attacker Meg Bireley, who put up the third most goals and shots last season. She ranks No. 10 all-time for shots at Marquette. 

With this lineup, Steiner said she can tell the team is more than ready this season.

“Everyone’s just so hungry,” Steiner said. “We term it the ‘LAX rats’ because everyone just has that love for wanting to be better and wanting to try new things. It has made us such a different team this year before the season has even started.”

Defense

Two of the team’s three captains reside within the defense. Senior Audrey Brett has been an important defender throughout her 52 appearances and combined 72 ground balls. 

Alongside her is fellow captain senior Faith Chmielewski. Last season, she ranked fourth on the squad in ground balls, but third in caused turnovers. While she only started in two games, this year she is anticipating a larger role. 

“Coming as a secondyear captain, it just takes the leadership role in the sense that I’m teaching these new captains what works best from last year,” Chmielewski said. “The seniors from last year did a phenomenal job, and that’s why we got to the NCAA tournament, so we’re just trying to follow in their footsteps and also leave our legacy as the senior class.”

Junior Molly Powers and senior Audrey Brett are also embracing the teaching mentality on and off the field that they hope will lead to another record season.

“Molly and Audrey have had the most experience also as the low defenders,” Chmielewski said. “For them, their role is just doing more. As in ground balls, the hustle stats, but also teaching those underclassmen how to do it because they’re gonna take those roles as defenders next year.”

Goalie

Junior goalie Bryanna Nixon returns to the net for 2024, having been on the field for 91% of the Golden Eagles’ playing time and saving 40% of shots on goal last year.

Additionally, she was named Big East Defensive Player of the Week last April. This year, Nixon is accompanied by sophomore Ava Sprinkel and first-year Mikayla Yang.

Marquette opens its season against Cincinnati at Valley Fields Feb. 11 at 12 p.m. CST.

This story was written by Benjamin Hanson and Sofie Hanrahan. They can be reached at [email protected] and [email protected] or on Twitter @SofieHanrahanMU and @benhansonMU.

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About the Contributors
Benjamin Hanson, Sports Reporter
Ben Hanson is a sophomore from Minneapolis, Minnesota studying journalism, digital media and advertising. He is a sports reporter and the assistant social media producer for the Marquette Wire for the 2023-2024 school year. When he's not in the newsroom, he likes creative writing, being with friends and going to sporting events. He is excited to be able to spread the word of the Marquette Wire because it has done so much for him while also refining his sports writing.
Sofie Hanrahan, Sports Reporter
Sofie Hanrahan is a first-year from Naperville, Illinois joining the Wire as a sports reporter for the 2023-2024 school year. She is studying digital media and film and media studies. Outside of the Wire, she enjoys watching soccer and movies. Sofie is looking forward to developing her writing skills and making connections in the sports community.

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