Women's Lacrosse 2016 Season Preview
Jan. 29, 2016
MILWAUKEE – The 2016 season is quickly approaching as the Marquette University women’s lacrosse team gears up for its fourth season in program history and third as a member of the BIG EAST Conference with a three-game road trip to open competition, beginning Saturday, Feb. 6, against Louisville.
The Golden Eagles, coming off their second straight year with a 5-12 overall record, return 28 letterwinners, including nine true seniors and four redshirt juniors to make up their largest senior class in school history. The senior-laden group is undoubtedly ready to take that next step and will look to senior co-captains Elizabeth Goslee and Kayce Haverstick to lead the way.
“They’re great leaders, positive influences and know what it takes to win and they hold their teammates to that high standard, which is exactly what I’m looking for in captains of this team,” said fourth-year head coach Meredith Black. “Our talented freshman class could not ask for a better group of seniors to show them what it means to work hard and represent Marquette University in the best way possible.”
Marquette ranked third in the BIG EAST Conference in defense, allowing fewer than 10 goals per contest and only four total goals behind league-leading Temple (165 goals allowed). However, the offense ranked seventh with just 7.5 goals per game.
“We have to score more goals and it starts in practice,” Black said. “I like the effort we’ve shown and improvements we’ve made in the preseason thus far.”
“(They) are really standing out and willing to take the ball and go with it,” Black said of the three attack players. “How we like to run our offense is trying to include as many players as possible and to attack the cage with a balanced approach. We don’t want to rely on just one or two scorers, we want defenses to have to worry about every one of our attackers.”
Bochniak, a junior, returns after a season-ending injury derailed her 2015 season after just two games. The Fallston, Maryland native’s presence was greatly missed after serving as the team’s second-leading scorer in 2014, totaling 20 goals and 22 assists.
Shearer, a junior, scored 12 goals and added an assist in 2015, which marked her first full season back after missing the last half of the 2014 season due to injury. McGuire did not appear in any games in 2015, but is poised for a breakout sophomore campaign.
One newcomer to look for will be freshman Cate Soccodato, who was the youngest player and just one of six Italian-Americans to compete for Team Italy at the 2015 European Championships last August. The Huntington, N.Y. native totaled 12 goals and an assist in six games and helped Team Italy to a 4-2 record at the tournament held in the Czech Republic.
“Having the opportunity to get that kind of experience is something you can’t take for granted,” Black said of Soccodato. “It’s pretty awesome that she was able to play at the highest level possible at such a young age. The way she played I’m sure boosted her confidence and made her believe she can dominate at the college level too.”
“The draw is definitely an area we need to improve,” Black said. “Allison Lane is starting to come into her own and Taylor is showing a lot of promise as well.”
Lane and Smith led the Golden Eagles with 25 and 24 draw controls, respectively, last season, and will aim to do the same this year. Additionally, the two combined for 26 points, including 22 goals with Smith accounting for 14 of those. As a whole, Black feels confident about the progress of her midfield this year.
“For the first time, we have a solid group of true middies that are equally as good on offense as they are on defense. It’s an aspect we’ve been striving for and has taken some time to build, but we’re finally there, and I’m really excited about that.”
The team’s captaining duo of Goslee and Haverstick has provided a formidable base to that success, guiding the defense in each of the past three seasons. In 2015, the Golden Eagles totaled a league-leading 81 caused turnovers in BIG EAST play, led by Goslee, who accounted for 14 – an average of 2.0 CT per game which ranked second in the conference.
Forcing turnovers requires an aggressive mentality, but that mentality can also result in committing fouls at critical junctures, such as free-position attempts for the opposition.
Of the team’s 169 goals allowed, 46 were by way of free-position attempts, which come as a result of fouls on attackers within the arc. Last season, opponents were 46-for-107 (43 percent) overall, while MU converted just 24-of-76 (31.6 percent) attempts.
“We need to be more aggressive, but foul less, and that is possible believe it or not,” Black said. “To accomplish that, we have to be smart and anticipate what the offense is going to do and beat them to the spot in order to gain the advantage. When that doesn’t happen, you have more of a tendency to foul and that’s where we struggled at times last season.”
Incumbent starter Sarah Priem recorded decisions in all 17 games last season, totaling a 9.97 goals against average and 91 saves for a .389 save percentage. Emma Salter appeared in nine games last year with an 8.76 GAA with 23 saves and a .469 save percentage.
“They’re both so good and offer such different looks that it gives us incredible depth in that area,” Black said of her goalkeeping tandem. “I feel very confident with either one in the cage at any point in the game and against any opponent.”
“Our schedule is extremely challenging,” Black said. “Every single game is going to be a test to our team. That’s how we’ve done it the past three years and our team is pretty used to it by now.
“They enjoy the pressure and challenge of playing the top teams in the country and I think with it comes a lot of mental toughness because we have to realize that every game is going to be close, and that’s not easy.”
Nothing has come easy to this group of seniors, who have had the difficult task of bringing a program along from the very start.
“The goal is to take it one day at a time and focus on what we can do in each moment to improve and grow,” Black said. “Our seniors have so much experience and leadership and they’re bringing the rest of the team along with them. They will guide our success in 2016.”
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