Welcome to lacrosse season, Syracuse Orange fans!
After weeks and months of anticipation and wondering about how exactly a spring season will look for college sports, we have finally arrived on the eve of lacrosse season in Central New York.
Well, we already got an answer to how it might look: very similar to the fall and winter sports, apparently.
Let’s get the bad news out of the way: on Thursday, Syracuse got news of its first postponement before the season even begins thanks to news of a “COVID-19 related concern” in the Georgetown program.
The good news is that Syracuse’s season opener against the No. 5 ranked Loyola Greyhounds is still scheduled for this Saturday, February 20 at Noon, but the second game against the Georgetown Hoyas is now no longer scheduled for next Tuesday.
However, one postponed game will not damper the enthusiasm for a 2021 season where expectations are sky high for the women’s lacrosse team.
The main reason for so much excitement? Syracuse returns 10 of last year’s seniors for the extra year of pandemic-induced eligibility, so much like the men’s team, there are a lot of players on this team back for the unfinished business of chasing the first championship in program history.
On top of all the senior returners, the ladies return 13 of the 14 players who started a game for them last season. Nine of those 13 are either seniors or graduate students.
So, we’re talking about a very experienced, senior-laden team back almost in its entirety from a 2020 team that went 7-1 and more than doubled up its opponents on the scoreboard.
That’s right, last year Gary Gait’s group averaged over 17 goals per game while only surrendering seven. To put that another way, it only took the Orange just over three games to score the same amount of goals their opponents scored in all eight games combined. So, they didn’t just win, they punished.
The team is led by the return of star Emily Hawryschuk, one of the best players in all of women’s lacrosse and a leading candidate for this year’s Tewaaraton award.
Hawryschuk, a two-time first-team All-American, is a phenomenal goal scorer who puts up points at a prodigious rate. Last season, she was second in the nation in goals per game (4.88) and eighth in points per game (5.75).
In fact, if she averages about 4.5 goals per game (last year she averaged 4.9) this season, she’ll break Syracuse’s all-time goal scoring record held by Kayla Treanor at 260 goals. She currently sits at 193 career goals.
But Hawryschuk does so much more than just score goals for Syracuse. Last year, she led the team in goals and points, was third in draw controls, and was fourth in assists, ground balls, and caused turnovers. So, in other words, she has her hand in basically every aspect of the game for the Orange. Her impact is felt all over the field, and that’s what makes her one of the best players in program history.
She’s joined on the attack line by a pair of juniors who, like Hawryschuk, earned preseason All-American honors: Megan Carney and Meaghan Tyrrell. Both were also voted All-Americans to end last season.
Last year, Carney led the team in assists and finished second in both goals and points, while Tyrrell finished third in all three main offensive categories.
Last year’s stifling defense has just as many returners as the offense does, which is great news considering they surrendered a nation-leading seven goals per game.
The defense is led by graduate student Kerry Defliese and junior Sarah Cooper, both of whom round out the group of five who were named preseason All-Americans.
Both were also named second-team All-Americans last season, and both are very adept at creating turnovers and getting possession back to the offense. Last season, Cooper led the team in caused turnovers with 12 while Defliese tied for second on the team with eight.
The final piece of the defensive puzzle and one of the biggest keys to success for this entire team lies with the returning graduate student in goal, Asa Goldstock.
Probably the most important returner outside of Hawryschuk, Goldstock led the country in goals against average (7.07) for the nation’s stingiest defense.
Serving as a team captain last year, she has been the starting goalie for SU her entire career. Asa and Emily are going to end up being five-year starters at Syracuse, something that was literally impossible in college before a pandemic got involved in the process.
The leadership that they provide on a team that is so well seasoned in their experience, combined with the overall talent and depth of this team, puts the Orange in a position to compete for the first national championship in program history.
I know we all can’t wait to start rooting these ladies on and, thankfully, we don’t have to. SU opens up their campaign this Saturday on the road for a top-five matchup with Loyola at Noon on ESPN+.
Best of luck ladies, and Let’s Go Orange!!!