Yesterday afternoon, the NCAA held their women's lacrosse championship weekend teleconference. Syracuse head coach Gary Gait and Maryland head coach Cathy Reese had the chance to talk about their teams' upcoming semifinals matchup and what to expect.
1. Maryland is dominant against everyone, not just Syracuse.
Friday's game will be the ninth time the teams have faced each other since 2013. The Terps are 19-1 all-time against the Orange. There haven't been that many teams who've been able to beat Maryland, so it's unfair to pin it all on Syracuse.
"It's a tough challenge and we're excited to have that opportunity again. We know we have to play a perfect game if we want a shot at competing with them and trying to come out on top."
2. A 0-8 record against Maryland under his direction won't deter his team.
Maryland is the one team that has given Gait trouble throughout the duration of his Syracuse coaching tenure. He's confident that his team has what it takes to finally beat them. They have experience beating a No. 1 team and they just need to apply that experience and play their best lacrosse, leaving it all on the field.
3. Syracuse's recent string of one-goal games is a good experience, but they didn't always have to end up that way.
They've played in three straight one-goal games, not counting the Canisius game that they finished playing after the last six minutes had to be postponed because of weather. Gait would like to see his team close out games where they have a late lead where they are up by two or more points.
"We've made mental mistakes, mental errors, gave the ball back to the other team. You look at USC, we're up 11-8 with four or five minutes left. We're man-up and we give the ball back. It's just another opportunity to learn from it and try and get one step better so if we do get a lead we can maintain it and not have to fight for our lives at the end of the game."
1. Their previous matchup doesn't matter much.
The two teams faced each other in the Dome back on March 12, a game that the Terrapins won easily, 14-9. It was during Syracuse's worst stretch of games this season where they lost three of five. Because that game was over two months ago, Reese believes that result does little to predict how their game on Friday will go. She said that teams continuously evolve and change over the course of a season and that both teams have grown since then.
2. Maryland is excited for the shot clock to come into play.
Reese said that she's been pushing for the rule change since 2011 and is very much looking forward to the shot clock being implemented next season.
"We're a very high-powered offense, I think we're one of the top (teams) in the nation in goals scored per game, and for us this is something we love. We love the high-energy attack, we love the opportunity to look for openings and opportunities."
3. Syracuse is one of the best programs in the country, despite not winning a national championship.
Gait said that his program wasn't quite at the elite level yet, as they have yet to win it all. Reese countered by saying that the Orange are elite because of how many Final Fours they've been able to advance to. This is Syracuse's fifth straight. She also alluded to the fact that the Orange always play a tough schedule during the regular season and have been successful, so there's no need for them to hang their heads.
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No. 4 Syracuse (19-5, 5-2 ACC) will face No. 1 Maryland (21-0, 5-0 Big Ten) this Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Penn. with a chance to advance to their third championship game.