Syracuse Lacrosse - Know Your Foe: The North Carolina Tar Heels

In the second round of the Women's NCAA Division 1 Lacrosse Championship Tournament, the fourth seeded and fourth ranked Syracuse University Orange women's lacrosse team welcomes the fifth seeded and fifth ranked North Carolina Tar Heels women's lacrosse team to the Carrier Dome on Saturday May 19th at 1pm. The Orange women look to return to the Women's Lacrosse Final Four for the first time since 2010 and for the third time overall.

This Saturday's game will be the first meeting this season between the two teams this year and features Tewaaraton Award finalists in Becky Lynch (Sr. Attack, UNC) and Michelle Tumulo (Jr. Attack, SU).

The Syracuse Orange women come into the game after bouncing back from the a loss in the Big East Tournament final to Loyola with a strong showing against the Dartmouth Big Green, winning 15-5 on the strength of a big second half surge and four goals each from Sarah Holden and Alyssa Murray. The Orange women's season featured a fifteen game winning streak including victories over the NCAA Women's Lacrosse Tournament number one seeded Florida Gators and number three seeded Maryland Terrapins. The winning streak came after the Orange women started the season at 1-2 with a two game loosing streak to the Virginia Cavaliers and tournament number two seed Northwestern Wildcats.

The North Carolina Tar Heels enter this game in a similar fashion to the Orange women. The Tar Heels lost in the ACC Tournament Championship game to the Maryland Terrapins and proceeded to win their first round game against Navy 14-7 to advance to tomorrow's showdown with the Orange. North Carolina prominently features two central New York exports in Laura Zimmerman (Westhill/Syracuse) and Kara Cannizarro (Cazanovia), both of whom were noiminees for the 2012 Tewaaraton award. North Carolina had a strong start to the regular season, winning their first eight in a row and 13 of their first 14 with the only blemish being a 9-8 loss to the Georgetown Hoyas. The Tar Heels then stumbled a bit to finish the season, going 2-2 in their last four games with wins over Virginia and Navy and losses to Maryland and Northwestern.


The Particulars

17-3, 8-0 Big East, At Large

15-3, 5-0 ACC, At Large

Head Coach: Gary Gait (5th year, 57-23)

Head Coach: Jenny Levy (16th year, 209-88)

10th NCAA tournament appearance

13th NCAA tournament appearance

Vital Statistics

Goals per Game: 14.90 (6)

Goals Per Game: 13.06 (18)

Goals Against Avg: 8.50 (7)

Goals Against Avg: 7.17 (2)

Scoring Margin: 6.4 (5)

Scoring Margin: 6.24 (8)

Ground Balls Per Game: 13.15 (86)

Ground Balls Per Game: 15.22 (51)

Caused TO per Game: 5.25 (85)

Caused TO per Game: 7.11 (50)

Draw Controls Per Game: 15.00 (7)

Draw Controls Per Game: 11.44 (62)

Scoring Leaders

Alyssa Murray (67g, 29a, 96p) (7)

Becky Lynch (41g, 20a, 61p) (66)

Michelle Tumulo (44g, 40a, 81p) (17)

Laura Zimmerman (38g, 20a, 58p) (84)

Goal Keepers

Alyssa Constantino (.523 SP, 15-2) (2)

Lauren Maksym (.468 SP, 15-3) (16)

Kelsey Richardson (.508 SP, 2-1)

Common Opponents

Defeated Boston College 23-12

Defeated Boston College 9-8

Defeated Florida 12-11, 2OT

Defeated Florida 11-9

Lost to Virginia 9-7

Defeated Virginia 14-9

Defeated Virginia 14-6 ACC Tournament

Defeated Georgetown 22-11

Lost to Georgetown 9-9

Defeated Georgetown 7-6 Big East Tournament

Defeated Maryland 9-3

Defeated Maryland 14-11

Lost to Maryland 14-10

Lost to Northwestern 11-9, OT

Lost to Northwestern 8-7

There isn't a lot of precedent to draw from in trying to pick a winner in this game. The two previous meetings have come in the NCAA tournament, and the home team has won both times. The Tar Heels are undefeated at home, with two of their three losses coming on the road and the third a neutral site loss in the ACC tournament. The Orange have not been perfect at home, losing to Northwestern at home early in the season, and to Loyola in the Big East Tournament at the Dome, which was kinda, sorta a home game. Common opponents do not reveal much either as Syracuse won five of seven , North Carolina five of eight.

Given that both teams are fairly evenly matched in terms of talent and experience and have been ranked in the top 10 to top 5 of the deBeer media poll all season, this game should be fairly typical of a top 5 match up and end up with a final score in the area of 11-9 or 12-10, with a margin of victory that will most likely be three goals or less. The key for the Orange women, who have been a stronger second half team this year, will be to keep the game close in the first half so that a strong second half will take the game. I like the Orange women in this game 12-10, giving them the nod based on the Orange being at home for this game, and while the Tar Heels have a better GAA (7.17 to 8.5) I like Alyssa Constantino's superior save percentage (.523 to Lauren Maksym's .468) and the Orange's stronger offense (14.9 GPG to13.06) to make the difference and allow Syracuse to come out on top and book a trip to Stony Brook for Memorial Day weekend.

WJPZ 89.1 FM will have radio coverage and Orange All-Access will have audio only. No television coverage as far as I can tell, but the game will be available via streaming video from the NCAA. I'll be tweeting the game live from the Dome at @mrbankies #SUWLaxNCAA

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