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Lacrosse: 2023 NCAA assists leader Mary Schumar transfers to Northwestern for fifth year

Schumar will play alongside Erin Coykendall, another one of the nation’s top assist-makers, next spring — making an already stacked roster even stronger.

Schumar will be a big addition to an already stacked Northwestern roster.
Marquette Athletics

On Monday, Northwestern lacrosse officially announced via Instagram the addition of attacker Mary Schumar to the Wildcats’ roster for the 2024 season. Schumar spent the last four seasons playing for Marquette University and comes to Evanston for her fifth year of eligibility, which was given to all NCAA spring sport athletes who competed during the 2020 season shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Schumar, a 2023 Inside Lacrosse and USA Lacrosse All-American Honorable Mention, led the NCAA in both assists (69) and assists per game (3.63) during the 2023 season. She set a Marquette program record for most career assists (115), with nearly half of those coming from her senior season. In addition, she also scored 20 goals and started all 19 games for the Golden Eagles.

Last season, Schumar was part of a Marquette team that finished 15-4 overall and made its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance.

“Mary is a tireless worker and tremendous playmaker. She makes connections on and off the field with ease,” Northwestern head coach Kelly Amonte-Hiller said of Schumar. “In 2023, Mary led her Marquette team to the best season in the history of the program. We are thrilled to welcome her into the Lake Show.”

Given how well Northwestern utilized its fifth-year transfers, Hailey Rhatigan and Molly Laliberty, last season, this begs the question — what kind of role will Schumar have on the upcoming season’s Wildcats team?

For Marquette last season, Schumar served as the team’s assist machine. She had three times as many assists as anyone else on her squad, and was the only player on the Golden Eagles’ roster to tally more assists than goals. In fact, her role as a feeder was put on display during Marquette’s match against Northwestern last February, where she recorded eight assists (her second-highest single-game total of the season) — a higher number than any of her teammates recorded in goals that game.

From the video, you can see that Schumar (No. 14) is often positioned behind the net, which is where she dishes out a good portion of her assists.

Schumar’s role as Marquette’s primary assist-maker is an interesting one to pick apart, considering that Northwestern has a nationally prominent version of its own: Erin Coykendall, whose return for a fifth year was confirmed by Amonte-Hiller on The Player and The Journalist podcast. Coykendall ranked fifth in the nation last season with 50 assists, and notably, nearly 40% of those assists (19 of 50) were for Izzy Scane, the Wildcats’ top goal-scorer.

That being said, while Schumar and Coykendall both led their respective teams in assists last season, they are very different players. Though Schumar had considerably more assists than goals, Coykendall’s goal-to-assist ratio was very much even, as she recorded 58 goals last season. In addition, Coykendall did not dominate the team’s assist numbers — she only accounted for 28% of her team’s assists, compared to Schumar’s 45%.

If Schumar ends up on Northwestern’s starting roster, how she will contribute to the team could be somewhat similar to what Rhatigan’s role was last year. Even though Northwestern already had a prolific goal creator in Scane before Rhatigan came along, Rhatigan’s addition to the roster did not take away from Scane’s goal-scoring opportunities. The Tewaaraton winner ended up scoring a career-high number of goals last season, while Rhatigan made the Wildcat attack even better with 62 goals of her own.

Similarly, Schumar could give that same boost to the Wildcats with her passing ability. Now, Northwestern will not just have one major opportunity-creator in Coykendall, but two with the addition of Schumar.

It’s also worth noting that Schumar isn’t the only Northwestern grad transfer with the potential to impact the starting lineup, as midfielder Linsdey Frank from Richmond (who also plays field hockey) will also join the roster this upcoming season.

Though Northwestern lacrosse doesn’t play in official competition until next spring, we will be able to take our first look at the 2024 squad in less than two weeks, as the Wildcats take on both the Team USA and Canada U-20 squads at the USA Lacrosse Fall Classic on Oct. 14.