Marquette Travels to No. 6/9 Florida in Battle for First Place
April 12, 2018
MILWAUKEE – The two best teams in the BIG EAST Conference will meet on Saturday as the Golden Eagles and No. 6/9 Florida Gators meet in Gainesville at 11 a.m. Central time.
Marquette (9-4, 5-0 BIG EAST) won its seventh-straight league contest dating back to 2017 when it upended Vanderbilt on Sunday to remain undefeated (7-0) at home. The Golden Eagles trailed at halftime, 8-7, before scoring the first five goals of the second half and holding off the Commodores, 13-11.
Allison Lane and Charlotte McGuire paced the offense with three goals apiece, while Grace Gabriel capped her second-straight Midfielder of the Week bid with two goals, an assist, five ground balls, nine draws and three caused turnovers. Riley Hill added a goal and four assists to give her a league-leading 30 helpers on the year. Julianna Horning was once again sensational in net, making eight stops to preserve her fifth-straight win.
MU has sailed into uncharted territory this season with the opportunity to register its first-ever 10-win season and inch closer to clinching its first-ever BIG EAST Tournament berth with a win on Saturday.
The Gators (10-3, 5-0 BIG EAST) are riding a four-game winning streak after an 18-8 win over Villanova on Sunday. While their offense ranks right behind BIG EAST-leading Marquette, their defense has held three-straight opponents under 10 goals.
Like Marquette, Florida has five players with 30 or more points this season led by Shayna Pirreca’s 52 points, including 39 goals. Lindsey Ronbeck has missed three games, but still ranks second on the team with 45 points, including 35 goals. Haley Hicklen is 10-3 in goal for UF with an 11.13 GAA and a .485 save percentage.
The Gators have two losses at home this season, dropping a close battle to then-No. 1 Maryland, 16-14, in the second game of the season, and later on to then-No. 14 Towson, 14-11.
Following Saturday’s matchup, the Golden Eagles return to the Valley Dome to face No. 25/RV Denver on Wednesday, April 18. First draw is scheduled for 2 p.m. Central time.
• Grace Gabriel (8 goals, 9 points, 11 ground balls, 13 draw controls, 8 CTs) picked up her second-straight BIG EAST weekly award. Florida goalie Haley Hicklen also earned a league distinction after going 2-0 with 5.55 GAA and .526 save percentage and attacker Lindsey Ronbeck made the honor roll after notching 11 points, including nine goals, in two games.
• Marquette is 9-2 over its previous 11 games with the lone losses coming against ranked teams on the road, (No. 17 Notre Dame; No. 9 Northwestern). MU is 7-0 at home in 2018.
• Marquette’s 5-0 league start is a program first and sets a record for BIG EAST wins in program history, surpassing the four-win mark set in both 2016 and 2017.
• The Lancaster, New York, native features a 38-game goals and points streak dating back to her freshman season in 2016. She ranks among the nation’s leaders this season in several categories, including: Goals (5th), Shots on Goal/game (6th), Shots/game (7th), Points (19th), Draw Controls/game (19th), Caused Turnovers/game (33rd).
• Soccodato earned her first-ever BIG EAST Attacker of the Week honor on March 27 and currently ranks third on the team with 45 points on 17 goals and 28 assists. The 2018 season has truly been a breakout year for Soccodato after having only scored a combined 34 points during her first two seasons combined.
• The Golden Eagles rank atop the BIG EAST during league play with 83 goals scored and third with just 45 goals allowed. Overall, they are first in draws per game (16.31), points per game (22.08) and second in assists per game (7.00).
• Lane achieved the mark after scoring her second goal of the day and 81st of her career with 3 seconds remaining in the first half, while Gabriel reached the mark with a free position goal, her 89th career score, midway through the second half.
• Gabriel was one of the fastest MU players to reach 100 career points, doing so in 42 career games, second only to Claire Costanza (‘17), who hit the milestone in two fewer games.
• The six home victories set the single-season record for home wins, surpassing the 5-3 record at Valley Fields back in 2016.
• Diving a little deeper, it’s worth noting that MU is 28-5 all-time when recording more shots than its opponent and 22-7 when gathering more groundballs (5-1 this season).
• The current scoring trend during the team’s current 11-game (9-2) stretch is quite impressive. MU is averaging 16.5 goals per game. Marquette is on pace for nearly 260 goals scored in 2018, which would shatter last year’s record-breaking season of 219 goals.
• MU is outscoring opponents, 196-154 (+42), through 13 games this season, including a 30-goal margin over the past three games.
• Additionally, the Golden Eagles have boasted the BIG EAST’s leader in draws per game in each of the past two seasons. Last season, Grace Gabriel set the Marquette record with 81 total draws and led the league with 5.67 draws per game following a 2016 campaign that saw Allison Lane lead the BIG EAST with 3.43 draws per contest.
• This season, Gabriel’s 5.92 draws/game leads the BIG EAST and ranks 19th in the country, while Lane’s 4.69 average is eighth in the league and 49th nationally.
• The offense ranks 16th in scoring (15.08 goals/game), while ranking 11th in points/game (22.08) thanks to an average of 7.00 assists per contest, which is 11th-best in the country.
• Individually, Grace Gabriel’s 51 goals scored ranks third in the country behind Nicole Beatson (60 goals) of Winthrop. Gabriel’s 58 points ranks 19th-nationally, while Riley Hill’s 52 points (31st) and 30 assists (9th), as well as Cate Soccodato’s 28 assists (13th), also rank among the nation’s elite. Lane has also cracked the top-20 in ground balls (3.23/game).
• Marquette features a program-record nine home games in 2018, which is three more than last year and one more than its previous high of eight back in 2016 when it went 5-3 at Valley Fields. MU will put its 7-0 home record on the line when it takes on BIG EAST-foe and 25th-ranked Denver on Wednesday, April 18 (2 p.m. CT).
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