After months of preparation, it would be an understatement to say the Marquette women’s lacrosse squad is ready for its inaugural season.
The Golden Eagles needed all the practice they could muster after learning they would be playing Big East competition this coming spring. But Coach Meredith Black, who has had coaching and playing experience at Notre Dame, is eager for action to begin.
“It’s a great conference and it’s very competitive,” Black said. “There are top teams in that conference, so for us to be able to play them year in and year out will be awesome for us.”
Black added that playing against difficult teams consistently will benefit the team in the long run and, in the short run it will determine for the players at what level they need to play to stay in the game.
Players have been taking part in individual and group exercises over the summer to ensure they’ll be in top condition for the challenging schedule.
“We held a camp here this summer and we got to watch a lot of the incoming play,” freshman midfielder Anna Muzika said. “They’re incredible. Just watching them, I think we can really compete this year and we can hang with the big dogs.”
Sophomore goalie Jennifer Zandlo, who came to Marquette from Niagara University, spent time this summer running sprints. She also tuned her goalkeeping skills by playing plenty of wallball, a handball-like sport that requires quick reflexes and sharp coordination, both of which Zandlo will need to be proficient at this season.
Determining a benchmark for the number of wins this season is still hazy for the team at this point, but Zandlo believes everything must start with developing team chemistry.
“Our goals are really to come together as a team and really work together and work hard,” Zandlo said. “I always put 100 percent in and no matter what the outcome is, good or bad. (We) just need to really be there for each other and make sure that we’re all on an upward slope.”
Like Zandlo, Black is not as concerned with wins right now as she is with ensuring that all players are ready and willing to compete.
“I think instead our goals are going to be about building confidence in the team and in the program and our work ethic,” Black said. “For me, hustle is a top thing. Our goal will be to out-hustle our opponents each and every game, work harder and keep confident in what our abilities are and what we can do.”
The coaches and players know how important sports are to Marquette culture. Since the addition of lacrosse to the list of Marquette’s varsity sports, the team has seen plenty of support from students and fans of the game.
“I can already tell that we have a few fans because in classes I’ve seen people wearing Marquette lacrosse gear, so it’s really exciting that people actually enjoy the sport,” Muzika said. “You see a lot of people with their high school lacrosse stuff on. We have a lot of people trying out or just interested and waiting to see how we do.”
Although the first game is not for some time, Black enjoys the enthusiasm the Marquette community has had in support of the new lacrosse program.
“I’ve seen the fans and they love their teams; they love the school,” Black said. “The alumni love everything about it. They’re die-hard and they’re committed to the program and I think adding lacrosse is going to give them one more team to show that commitment and love for.”