While many were spending Valentine's Day with their significant other, the Syracuse women's lacrosse team had two dates of their own. The Orange made reservations months ago to play a double header on Sunday against #12 Loyola in the afternoon (12pm) and then a dinner date against Binghamton (7:30pm). It wasn't a day filled with love, but a day playing a game they love, and the Orange came out on top. They defeated #12 Loyola 17-6 and then went on to win against Binghamton 9-6.
"It was a great day for Syracuse lacrosse to get out there and start our 2016 season," said head coach Gary Gait.
In their first game of the double header, Syracuse brought the house. They played their starting lineup consisting of players like two-time Tewaaraton finalist, Kayla Treanor, and seniors like Erica Bodt and Halle Majorana. They sent their best out their to face a very solid and ranked Loyola team. In the end, we saw just how talented and how big a gap exists between #12 ranked Loyola and a team like #3 Syracuse.
It seemed almost effortless to the Orange. Goals were piling in left and right. They were the definition of a well-oiled machine, methodically exploiting every misstep Loyola took. With just under 17 minutes left in the first half the Orange already had seven goals, that's more than the Greyhounds would score all game.
What really stood out and what we all expected from the Orange to start the season was how dominant their offense was. Treanor and Majorana looked unstoppable; breezing past defenders and putting shots past the goalie. The two combined for a total of nine goals.
The score is reflective of just how much Syracuse had possession. Loyola couldn't generate much offense and it can be attributed to Treanor. She recorded 19 draw controls, which ties the single-game school record and is also the fifth highest total in NCAA D1 history.
"It was nice to see Kayla Treanor step up on the draw and just dominate was just awesome. It was what we were hoping for," said Gait.
In net for the Orange was a new face, but one Syracuse has actually seen on the other sideline.
Allie Murray, a transfer graduate student and transfer from Notre Dame, played in her first game in net since 2014. Coincidentally, the last game she played in was against No. 1 Syracuse. For Murray, it felt good to be back on the field again.
"It's just a dream come true. I'm really lucky to have the opportunity to play here with amazing players, I'm just really grateful," said Murray.
In her Orange debut, Murray allowed six goals and had three saves. She did not play in the second game against Binghamton.
Instead in the second game, Gait decided to rest nine of his starters and go with a lineup that featured five true freshmen. It was a lineup that lacked a lot of game experience compared to the lineup from the first game.
"We wanted to allow some of our younger players that were role players with our vets to have the opportunity to step up," said Gait.
The Orange started all freshmen and sophomore with the exception of two juniors. The inexperience caused the second game to be closer than Syracuse may have wanted it. The Bearcats kept it a one-goal game for the majority of the contest until the Orange scored four unanswered goals in the middle of the second half. Gait had no plans to replace any of the younger players because it was good to not only rest his starters, but to give his future starters a game under their belt.
However, Gait doesn't want another close game like that again. In their double header next weekend against Marist and Wagner, Gait said he will be switching up the lines.
"We'll probably just play the entire team both games... Instead of going strong/weak, we'll go with two strong teams and try to get everyone in," said Gait.
So with two wins in the books to start their season, Gait was pleased with his team's performance. And although Valentine's day was almost over after the conclusion of the second game, he still had some plans.
"My phones been ringing the whole time, my wife's already called like six times. We'll go home, have a glass of wine, relax. That was a great Valentine's. Ya know? A couple W's is always nice," said Gait.
For more information on the team and live updates during women's lacrosse games, follow me on Twitter @NickPetraccione.