The No. 4/4 Syracuse Orange women’s lacrosse team headed into the first round of the ACC Tournament needing a win against the No. 7/7 Virginia Cavaliers to stay in contention for a top-four seed in the NCAA Tournament, which will start in a couple of weeks. Those hopes stayed alive as SU (15-3) outlasted the Hoos (12-6) 12-10 on Wednesday afternoon to advance to the Friday semifinals.
The Orange got on the scoreboard first when Sam Swart flipped a pass on a give and go to Emily Hawryschuk. The junior attacker took advantage of Swart’s pick and dodged another Virginia defender before taking a shot on the right side doorstep, giving the ‘Cuse a 1-0 lead three minutes in.
The Cavaliers tied it up three minutes later when Lillie Kloak got a feed from Maggie Jackson and bounced a low shot in. It was the closest that Virginia came to taking the lead all day. Syracuse dominated the draw control throughout much of the first half to keep possession for long periods of time as well as racking up an 8-1 run to take a commanding 9-2 lead headed into the break.
The Hoos refused to go quietly, scoring three goals within two minutes early into the second half to cut the Orange lead to 9-5 with 26:15 left. Both teams then traded a pair of goals to keep Syracuse ahead 11-7 with 15:22 remaining.
Neither team could get an advantage for the next five minutes before SU broke the impasse. Mary Rahal elected to pass off to Megan Carney on a man-up free position attempt. Carney stepped forward and put it past Charlie Campbell and the Orange were back up by five at 12-7 with 10:57 to go. It was the last time Syracuse would hit paydirt for the rest of the game.
Asa Goldstock made several big saves over the next six minutes to keep the ‘Cuse up by five, but Virginia finally broke through and made a late run. Scores by Jackson and Courtlynne Caskin put the Hoos within three at 12-9 with just 2:27 remaining to play. Avery Shoemaker managed to get one last goal for the Cavaliers, getting a shot past Goldstock right at the horn to round out the scoring.
- Shots: Syracuse 31, Virginia 24
- Shots on Goal: Syracuse 21, Virginia 19
- Turnovers: Virginia 18, Syracuse 14
- Clears: Syracuse 22-23, Virginia 20-22
- Ground Balls: Syracuse 15, Virginia 14
- Draw Controls: Syracuse 15, Virginia 8
- Free Positions: Virginia 3-8, Syracuse 0-6
Hawryschuk (4 g, 1 a, 1 dc), Rahal (2 g, 1 a), Swart (2 g), Carney (1 g, 1 a, 1 dc), Tyrrell & Sierra Cockerille (1 g, 1 gb each), Nicole Levy (1 g), Sarah Cooper (2 gb, 1 ct, 5 dc), Grace Fahey (2 gb, 1 ct, 1 dc), Lila Nazarian (2 gb), Kerry Defliese (2 ct), Natalie Wallon & Allyson Trice (1 gb, 1 dc each), Ella Simkins (1 gb), Julie Cross (4 dc), Morgan Widner (1 dc), Goldstock (4 gb, 9 saves)
Draw Controls: In the regular season meeting, Virginia won the draw control battle 16-13 and it was partially responsible for the Cavaliers making a late run then. Virginia’s Anna Hauser caused some problems for the Orange in that game with four draws. Jackson and Mueller had five and six respectively. On Wednesday, Syracuse had one of the more dominant performances in the circle, beating the Hoos 15-8, which included a 9-3 advantage in the 1st half. Hauser and Jackson were limited to three total between them, with Mueller nabbing four.
Conversely, Hawryschuk, Widner, Kempney and Cross all did a creditable job. Although it doesn’t show up in the stat sheets, the four were able to get the ball out to the wings, who were able to beat out the Cavaliers time and again. Cooper led the team with five, while Cross was able to get four directly. The draw controls in the first half were especially significant as the Orange were able to go on a seven goal run through the first half, which ultimately provided enough cushion against Virginia’s second half comeback attempt.
Turnovers: Although Syracuse certainly had some problems in this category, finishing the day with 14, the number of Cavalier miscues was considerable. Of Virginia’s 18 turnovers, only four of them were caused. The plethora of self inflicted wounds had a big part to play in blunting the Cavalier comeback in the second half.
Asa Goldstock: The junior goalie was red-hot for much of the midseason, but cooled off a bit towards the end. However, her nine saves (47% save rate) were crucial in the Orange victory, particularly late in the game. Her performance on Wednesday was a much needed boost and she’ll have to have a similar hot streak if Syracuse has a chance to pull the upset over Boston College on Friday.
Jekyll and Hyde Halves: Both teams flipped on performances on Wednesday afternoon. Syracuse looked unstoppable in the first half as the offense, defense and draw control units all played at peak levels. That was probably one of the best halves I’ve seen SU play this year. Conversely, Virginia couldn’t get anything going and the Orange rolled to a 9-2 lead at the half.
But then the wheels started to come off a bit. Syracuse had three yellow cards (they would finish with five) in the second half and a pretty big one on Goldstock just before the break. Virginia got a man-up score off of one of them, and it’s arguable that they had another one indirectly (even though Goldstock was released, the Cavs had possession and SU couldn’t make the switch with Bri Stahrr). However, what those cards also did was force the Orange offense to waste time burning off those yellows (which are two-minute man-downs each time they’re issued). This was at a point in the game where the offense had a lot of questionable shots that were not well placed and enabled Campbell (who finished with nine saves of her own) to make some fairly easy saves. Once again, Syracuse allowed a team to get back into a game that really was theirs for the taking.
Virginia did much better in the second half (outscored the Orange 8-3 in the second half) and went on several mini runs to close to within striking distance twice, but some unforced errors and Goldstock were enough to keep them from getting closer than two.
Free Positions: This is also starting to become a concern category for SU. It’s the second game in a row where the Orange failed to get a goal off of a free position shot (though it should be pointed out that they had a couple of goals off of free position passes). Syracuse was 0-6 against the Cavaliers and are 1-17 in their last three games (North Carolina, Cornell, Virginia). Conversely, those three opponents were 7-17, which includes a 3-8 performance by Virginia (and only so because Goldstock made several really nice saves). This is probably one of the few issues that I’ve had with the defense so far, especially in the last few games. The fouls are mounting and giving opponents a bunch of open shots on goal is not what you want to see going forward. Boston College is currently 44% with free positions (55-125) and that’s about 1/6 of their scoring output.
That said, it’s still a win and that’s always better than a loss (just ask Notre Dame, who was upset by Duke on Wednesday night). As Al Davis said: ”Just win, baby!”
Up Next and NCAAT stuff
With the win, the Orange will face top-seeded and No. 1 in the nation Boston College (18-0) on Friday at 5 p.m. ET in Alumni Stadium. Syracuse has come closest to knocking off the Eagles this year with a 14-12 loss in the Dome at the beginning of the season.
What does this win over Virginia mean for Syracuse and the NCAAT? Well, it’s a quality win against a top-10 opponent. At this point, the Orange are probably anywhere between the 3 and 5 seeds, though more likely 4 or 5. If the ‘Cuse were to pull off the upset, they would move on to the final on Sunday against either Duke or North Carolina. I’m guessing the latter, but I also thought that the Irish would win, so...
Obviously that would be big boost to their resume. It would also give them the opportunity to get another crack at the Tar Heels and a possible AQ. I would have to believe that an AQ would push Syracuse into the 3-seed behind Maryland and Boston College. That’s one possibility.
If Syracuse loses to the Eagles, then they’re most likely a 4-seed, but it’ll also depend on what Northwestern does in the B1G Tournament next weekend. Notre Dame’s loss to Duke means that they’re not going to be able to catch the Orange or the Wildcats due to head to head losses to both as well as a weaker non-conference schedule. Northwestern has to play Ohio St. to finish out the regular season (a game they’re expected to win) but will face Michigan in the first round (B1GT has four teams).
If the Wildcats lose to Michigan (a possibility since the Wolverines played them very tough a week ago and could have won that) or lose to Maryland in the final, that would probably be enough to give SU the 4 seed in the NCAAT (SU has the head to head against the Wildcats too). Why is the 4 seed important? The top four seeds get not only a first round bye and play at home for their second round game, but they also stay at home for the quarterfinals (which means one more time in the Dome).