Looking at the way the Marquette women’s lacrosse team was controlling Saturday’s exhibition match against Grand Valley State, it was difficult to believe it was only the second match in the program’s history.
Marquette clamped down on defense and used a patient attack to dismantle the Lakers, 14-6, and earn the program’s first ever victory.
“It’s a great win, and it’s great to be on this field to have the first win,” coach Meredith Black said. “I think they were probably a little more nervous today because all their family and friends were going to be here watching them, but they didn’t show it. They played hard, and I think the excitement level was that much higher, so it was great.”
The Golden Eagles came out firing quickly, scoring the game’s first nine goals and immediately putting the Lakers in a deep hole. Freshman goalie Emma Salter was pleased with how the offense managed to stay calm despite the jitters the first home game brought.
“We definitely want to wait to take our good shots,” Salter said. “Take our time, get it around and run the plays we have. We definitely have composure.”
Marquette appeared more comfortable with ball control, tossing and catching with ease even when Laker defenders began to swarm.
Fundamentals like these caused issues in Marquette’s first game at Notre Dame, but this time around saw significant improvement. Freshman midfielder Anna Muzika, who scored two goals in Saturday’s match, recognized dramatic differences in how the team played compared to the Notre Dame bout.
“Last week was a little rough,” Muzika said. “When we got the ball, we didn’t keep it long, but this time we definitely worked it around and were just taking shots. Last week we were kind of afraid to shoot, but this week we were very confident when we went in. We drove hard and we made things happen today.”
The defense provided a pleasant surprise, not allowing a goal for the first 44 minutes of the match. Grand Valley State had difficulties chasing after loose balls and finding clear shots, and Black was impressed with how the team overwhelmed the Lakers’ offensive scheme.
“Our defense has been playing really great at practice and our goalies have been tremendous,” Black said. “We knew we had that protection when the ball got down there, but I actually didn’t expect anything or know how it was going to turn out. I was pleased that we could hold them without a goal for a while.”
The Lakers brought the score to 13-6 on three unanswered goals in the third period, but they could not find the back of the net for the rest of the match. A goal by Marquette attacker Margaret Franklin with 3:44 remaining made the score 14-6 and effectively put the game out of reach for Grand Valley State.
The win gives the Golden Eagles confidence as the fall season progresses. Players and coaches know there will be more challenging games once the spring comes, but they are satisfied to get the first victory out of the way.
“It’s really nice just to have a win under your belt,” Muzika said. “It’s a good starting ground. Today we just realized how much we have to work on, so we’re excited to improve just because (today) was good.”
Marquette’s next matchup will be Oct. 14 in Allendale, Mich., when the team participates in the Grand Valley State Tournament.