Marquette WLAX 2022 Season Preview
MILWAUKEE – The 2021 season has been an up-and-down affair for Marquette women’s lacrosse.
Due to COVID-19, the team missed a full pre-season and some of the crucial team-building activities that come with it.
“The biggest hurdle of the last year was COVID and all the feelings that come with it, it was a huge distraction from playing lacrosse,” the head coach said. Meredith Black noted. “Beyond that, we were missing that connection with each other and team chemistry.”
MU finished with a 7-9 overall record and missed the conference tournament.
But going into this spring, there’s a new spirit among the Golden Eagles.
“Everyone is on the same page, everyone is achieving the same goals,” Black said. “Everyone is ready to do whatever it takes to make this team successful.”
Despite a tough non-conference slate in addition to a busy BIG EAST schedule, Marquette is aiming high.
“Our goal is to separate ourselves from the peloton. It might not happen in a year, but we want to be able to dominate,” Black said. “Our goal is to win the BIG EAST Championship, we think we can. Denver is the only team we haven’t beaten in our conference, but we had them double overtime last year. I have l impression that we are capable of beating them, and our team is convinced of that too.”
And it’s not just the coaching staff who believe the team can reach new heights.
“Marquette women’s lacrosse is going to win the GRAND EST,” said the junior defender Ellie Henry noted. “We definitely have that expectation, and that’s because we know the hard work we’ve put in. We know it’s not easy to get there, that’s why we’re working so hard now for it.”
The offense will be very different from previous years, with entries caroline steller, Megan Menzuber and Lindsey Hill having graduated.
But the unit still benefits from some experience thanks to the return of seniors Shea Garcia and adding transfer Kyra Lamotte.
In four years at Furman, LaMotte scored 108 goals and earned All-SoCon first-team honors as a senior. His addition will help “fill the void” of the three graduating starters.
“She’s going to play an important role in our offense this year,” Garcia said. “I’m really excited to play with her. She brings a lot to complete our attack.”
Garcia, the former BIG EAST freshman, recorded 30 points a year ago in 15 games and will be a vital part of the offense again, but now in a different role.
“I’m going to play mostly up top now, and before I used to play behind,” Garcia said. “I’ll definitely be more of an offensive threat for dodging, which I’m really excited about.”
Ghosts Hannah Greving and Mary Schumar will both see expanded roles in the attacking squad after strong 2021 seasons.
“I’m really excited for our offense,” Garcia said. “Everyone in our attack is going to step up, there’s a lot of confidence in all of us. We want to score big points.”
While the attacking staff will see a drastic difference, the midfield unit returns a number of ‘heavy hitters’.
Reigning All-BIG EAST First Team Midfielder Lydia Foust will punctuate the unit after producing 28 goals in 2021.
5 foot 11 inch sophomore Leigh Steiner will also do some heavy lifting for Marquette’s midfield. In her first season, the Minnesota native totaled 27 points in 16 games.
Junior Emma Soccodato will see plenty of time for the Golden Eagles after starting every game in 2021. Meg Birley impressed early, and Elise Smigiel will also compete for minutes out of midfield.
“I’m definitely excited about our midfield,” Foust said. “We definitely have people filling their shoes, and they’ve done a great job all fall and pre-season. It’s just going to be about putting all the pieces together. We have the same strengths, but it’s going to be about just finding those connections and building them.”
At the circle of control of the draw, MU will have to replace Emily Cooperwho finished his career No. 2 in Marquette history with 187 draw checks.
Taking up the torch will be junior Marie Blee and second Josie Kroppwho each saw reserve time last year for the Golden Eagles.
“These two are really good,” Black said. “They’re similar to Coop in that they have a very specialized draw skill, and they each have a very different draw, so they give us two good looks. If one doesn’t work, we have a backup, the good thing is. “
But even with Cooper’s graduation, Henry believes MU’s draw unit can achieve great things.
“We are a team capable of dominating any team we face in the draw,” Henry said. “Marie Blee and Josie Kropp are like the dynamic duo, one has a specialty in that and the other has a specialty in that. They work so well together, talk to each other and figure out what works best.”
The defense is losing two players from all conferences, but still appears to be one of Marquette’s strongest groups.
“We have a lot of depth in defence, we’re delighted with our defence,” Black said. “We’ll have a freshman starting in defense and a lot of young players there. It’s super young, but they’re good.”
The defensive anchor remains as Henry returns for another season, coming off a year where she contributed 14 ground balls, 13 turnovers and 23 draw checks.
second year defender Audrey Brett appeared in all 16 games a season ago, the only true freshman to do so for MU, and is set for a starting spot.
But the youth come to every other place, as a rookie Jasmine Murray looking to fill a starting and second year role Faith Chmielewski will see the time increase.
Junior Kate Pearsonwho started 8 games last year before a season-ending knee injury, will also be considered in the rotation upon returning from injury.
“What’s exciting about training right now is that there are four or five girls in rotation and every day you see one come out on top,” Henry said. “Everyone is fighting for those places, which makes our team so much better because we constantly have that motivation. You work so hard because you want to earn your place, but you also push everyone to improve.”
Between the pipes, Marquette must replace two of his most accomplished players in Julianna Horning and Sophie Leva.
But to make up for the loss are two newcomers, both of whom will see time as United goalkeepers.
Transfer Amanda Rumsey comes to Milwaukee from BIG EAST rival Butler, where she was a four-year starter for the Bulldogs. The grad student finished third in the conference in saves per game and had a career-high 18 saves against Marquette on her final day.
The other option in the cage is a 5ft 10in freshman Brynna Nixon, originally from Washington. Nixon was a three-time all-conference selection in high school and held a 60.5% save percentage at Fife High School.
“Mandy came from Butler and she’s really strong, so our rookie Brynna is also really strong,” Black said. “I don’t know who’s going to start, actually. They’re both right-handed, but they’re different in a lot of ways. It will depend on who plays in that position.”