Playing a well-rounded Notre Dame team was a challenge for the Marquette women’s lacrosse squad, but when the Golden Eagles battled reigning national champion Northwestern last week, the challenge rose to a whole new level.
Marquette finished its fall schedule on a busy note, visiting the Wildcats last Wednesday for a scrimmage and participating at an all-day tournament at Ohio State on Sunday.
According to coach Meredith Black, official scores were not kept for the games because they were being treated solely as scrimmages, but she was satisfied with the improvement the team made since the first game against the Fighting Irish.
“We’ve grown so much already over the fall,” Black said. “I thought our team fought hard. We scored eight goals against (Northwestern), which was awesome for us. We’ve improved on a lot of things, and I think the improvement showed at the Northwestern game.”
Freshman defender Jenaye Coleman thought playing against the two-time defending national champions would be intimidating, but she was content with the performance.
“We were feeling really good about the way we were playing because we went out there, gave it our all, and everyone put out their best effort and tried their hardest,” Coleman said. “I think we did really well.”
Marquette played Virginia Tech, Ohio State and Cincinnati in Sunday’s tournament in Columbus, Ohio. Defense was a problem for the Golden Eagles in the early stages of the fall schedule, but both Black and freshman midfielder Emma Kern have seen great strides in breaking up opponents’ offensive strategies over the past few weeks.
“Our defense is our strength right now,” Black said.
“I think we have definitely improved a lot,” Kern said. “We tend to focus a lot on hustling and controlling what we can control when we don’t have the ball.”
Being such a young team, the Golden Eagles have been looking for a leadership voice ever since practice began. The games this past week featured many players wanting to take that part, according to Coleman.
“We saw a lot of people step up who hadn’t had a chance to previously,” Coleman said. “It’s really good to see people falling into that leadership role and seeing what kind of teammates they want to be.”
Having the opportunity to practice and play together for the past seven weeks or so has allowed the players to familiarize themselves with everyone’s playing style. It has also helped with off-the-field camaraderie.
Black stressed that lacrosse is always a collective task, and the more the team plays together, the better it can become. She noted the defensive and offensive units are well-acquainted and have each established a comfort zone that will hopefully carry over into league action.
“I think the key for us specifically is playing together as a unit,” Black said. “In our sport, it’s the team effort that wins games, nothing individual.”
Marquette’s spring schedule has not yet been released, but the team will be undergoing its normal practice routine and will continue to develop on and off the field in preparation for the arduous Big East competition. Although it is only October, Coleman is already itching for the spring to arrive.
“We don’t want to end, but we’re excited,” Coleman said.