The No. 17/20 Syracuse Orange women’s lacrosse team went into the ACC Tournament needing a win over No. 5/5 North Carolina to solidify their chances to earn an NCAA Tournament spot in a couple weeks. UNC did not oblige and dominated from start to finish to breeze past SU 21-12 in the first round of the conference tournament
North Carolina (13-3) took advantage of a slew of Syracuse (9-9) mistakes to open up an 11-2 lead a little over midway through the first half. The Orange did go on a mini-run to cut the lead to 12-6 with six minutes remaining before the half, but that was as close as they would get for the rest of the way. North Carolina added a pair of goals to take a commanding 14-6 lead into the break. They continued to attack in the second half and had its largest lead of the day at 20-9 when Jamie Ortega (who would finish with five goals) took a feed from Katie Hoeg. Syracuse did score three of the last four goals to avoid the loss going into double digits.
Shots: North Carolina 43, Syracuse 24
Shots on Goal: North Carolina 33, Syracuse 20
Turnovers: Syracuse 20, North Carolina 14
Ground Balls: North Carolina 25, Syracuse 18
Draw Controls: North Carolina 21, Syracuse 14
Clears: North Carolina 14-of-14, Syracuse 13-of-20
Free Positions: Syracuse 3-of-6, North Carolina 3-of-7
Fouls: Syracuse 29 & 2 Yellow Cards, North Carolina 23 & 2 Yellow Cards
Emily Hawryschuk: 5 goals, 1 ground ball
Vanessa Constantino: 2 goals, 1 assist, 1 ground ball
Cara Quimby: 2 goals
Riley Donahue: 2 assists, 1 draw control
Nicole Levy: 1 goal, 1 assist
Mary Rahal: 1 goal, 1 assist
Neena Merola: 1 goal, four ground balls, four draw controls
Julie Cross: 1 assist, 8 draw controls
Asa Goldstock: 2 ground balls
Hannah Van Middelem: 12 saves, 5 ground balls, 2 caused turnovers
Return of the Miscues: The stats say it all: 20 turnovers, 65% clears (13-20), minus-7 in ground balls, 29 fouls for the game, but it was in the first half where the damage was truly done: 13 turnovers, 5-11 clears, -9 in ground balls (17-8 for UNC). However, the stats tell only part of the story. Syracuse had major problems with passing all evening long and this has been an issue all year. Sloppy play was basically why the Orange lost in this fashion.
Good game for Van Middelem: The freshman reserve goalie entered just six minutes into the game when Goldstock gave up seven goals with no saves. Van Middelem played the rest of the game and registered 12 saves against 14 goals. It was one of the few bright spots on the evening for SU.
Hawryschuk garners All-ACC 1st team: The sophomore attacker had the only 1st-team selection for the Orange after leading the team in goals (53) and points (61), and delivered once again here with five goals vs. UNC.
Draw Controls: Honestly, this one turned out better than expected. When these two teams played in the Dome back on April 14, the Tar Heels ran away with this category, 23-10. Although they did win 21-14 this time around, it was one of the few improvements from the regular season contest. Cross had eight draw controls while Merola grabbed four.
Syracuse will now have a long wait until next Sunday, May 6 at 9:30 p.m. ET to see if they make the NCAA Tournament as an at-large team. Prior to the ACCT, I said that they should get in given the other teams standings, but a couple of things have happened over the last couple of days that certainly makes things more interesting, which I will go into more detail with another NCAAT update sometime next week.
First of all, Princeton upset Penn 21-8 on Wednesday night. That now puts the Tigers, Quakers and Dartmouth in a three way tie for first place. Princeton beat Penn, Penn beat the Big Green and Dartmouth beat Princeton, so there’s no easy head to head tiebreakers there so it might come down to goal differential. If this is the case, then Princeton would actually get the top seed in the Ivy League Tournament. It also means that the AQ assumption pretty much went right out the window as any one of these three teams has a shot at it. They do have one more game on their respective schedules this weekend to finish conference play, so it’s possible that one of them could lose and drop back a spot.
Secondly, Notre Dame knocked off Virginia 11-10 in the ACCT first round. The Irish were 9-8 and probably would have been in trouble with a loss, but this puts them right back in the bubble picture even with a loss to BC in the semifinals (which would put them at 10-9). The Cavaliers have now lost seven of their last eight and are also 9-9 but still have a strong SOS and a fourth place finish in the ACC.
Virginia Tech’s victory over Duke doesn’t change much for the Hokies beyond grabbing another victory (they’re 13-5 now). Duke’s officially out of the running for the NCAAs, sitting on a 7-9 record.
In the Pac-12, USC did win their first round game against Arizona State and will face Stanford on Friday in the semifinal. The Women of Troy are now 10-7 and still have a reasonable chance at getting into the NCAAT with their strength of schedule.
As of this writing, Virginia Tech and Duke had a weather delay at halftime with the Hokies leading 6-5, so I’ll address this in the comments section.