The Syracuse Orange women’s lacrosse team overcame a sluggish first half for the second game in a row to beat the Virginia Tech Hokies by a score of 17-10 on Saturday evening.
For the Orange, it was their first game in 13 days after a rare lacrosse-bye last weekend, and their first half play definitely reflected the long layoff. The ladies were sloppy in committing 10 first half turnovers and undisciplined on defense in giving up far too many free-position opportunities for the Hokies.
However, the Orange were able to score nine unanswered goals that took a 7-5 late first-half VT lead and turned it into a 14-7 SU lead by the midway point of the second half. By that point, the game was out of reach as the teams traded goals to arrive at the 17-10 final score.
The win improves the Orange’s record to 6-0, their best start to a season since the 2017 campaign.
Staying undefeated— Syracuse Women's Lax (@CuseWLAX) March 27, 2021
'Cuse is 6-0 on the season pic.twitter.com/1TdFQT4Jxj
Megan Carney (5G, 2A) and Meaghan Tyrrell (5G, 1A) led the way for the offense with five goals each, as Carney recording a season-high seven points. Both Carney and Tyrrell have at least four points in every game this season, and both have more than four in all but one game. They’re stepping up in a big way in replacing the injured Emily Hawryschuk.
Sierra Cockerille (1G, 3A) and Emily Ehle (1G, 3A) each had three helpers and four points on another fantastic day of ball movement for the SU offense. Emma Ward (1G, 2A), Sam Swart (2G), and Emma Tyrrell (1G, 1A) all contributed multiple points efforts, meaning every single offensive starter had at least two points for the Orange.
On top of that, the offense continued to prove their unselfishness by assisting on 12 of the 17 goals, a phenomenal number. This team truly does not care who scores goals or puts up gaudy statistics. They simply want to move the ball efficiently until they find the right player in the right place to take the right shot and score. Within the workings of Gary Gait’s weave offense, it’s a thing of beauty to watch when executed well — which is often for this offense.
Although the first half was overall a sloppy effort, it didn’t start that way as the ladies jumped on the board in the opening few minutes on goals by Carney and Meaghan Tyrrell. The Orange actually scored four goals in the game’s first eight minutes, but that’s when the turnovers started to take over.
SU went scoreless for the next 15 minutes, and by the time Morgan Alexander shoveled home a rebound goal to end the drought, the Orange found themselves behind on the scoreboard, 6-5.
With three minutes to go in the half, it was 7-5 VT, and ‘Cuse was staring a halftime deficit in the face for the second straight game. But a pair of goals by, you guessed it, Tyrrell and Carney, sent the Orange and Hokies into the break knotted at seven.
While Syracuse dominated draw controls in the first half, 12-3, they failed to do much with the extra possession as they gave the ball away. On the defensive end of the field, fouls led to five free-position chances for the Hokies, four of which they converted into goals.
Much like in the last game against Notre Dame, however, the Orange came out in the second half with a renewed energy and armed with halftime adjustments that allowed them to score the first seven goals of the second half, completing the 9-0 run and putting themselves up 14-7 with about 15 minutes to play.
Part of the game-changing run was a trio of goals that were scored in breathtakingly exciting, fast-break style fashion. On three separate occasions, goalie Asa Goldstock made a save and immediately turned it into a huge clearing pass towards mid-field. Those giant clears turned into fast-break chances that the Orange converted in seemingly record times. By my own count, all three goals went from Goldstock’s stick to the back of the VT net in 13, 13, and 12 seconds respectively.
I mean, that’s absolutely crazy, and must have been quite the sight for coach Gait, whose Orange teams of the 80’s used to typify that level of break-neck speed lacrosse that became the norm of old-school Syracuse lax on the men’s side.
After a pair of fluky VT goals, Carney and Tyrrell added to their impressive stat lines, scoring the final three goals between them, finishing off the Hokies and notching win number six on the season.
Take a at these . pic.twitter.com/CdGQDtchIn— Syracuse Women's Lax (@CuseWLAX) March 28, 2021
The second half adjustments the coaching staff and team made were very encouraging. They cut their 10 first half turnovers by more than half, giving them many more opportunities to turn their possession into goals. And the shooting accuracy improved greatly in the second half, as well.
The problem is, this is now two games in a row where the Orange have come out lethargic in the opening frame. The second-half comebacks have been authoritative in nature, but getting off to slow starts cannot become the norm, especially with UNC on the horizon next weekend. The Tar Heels will not be so “easy” to come back on.
One issue that has been trending in the wrong direction for this team, and was at it’s worst against VT, is the number of free-position opportunities the defense in surrendering each game. In the first three games of the season, the team gave up 13 combined free-positions. In the last three games, they’ve given up 29, including 12 in the VT game alone.
That is very concerning heading into the UNC game and generally for the rest of the season. This defense is one of the best in the country, as is Asa Goldstock.
Five of the 10 goals VT scored were on free-positions, which means the defense only gave up five goals from the run of play, which is a great number. But when you give up that many free-positions every game, you give your opponent a lot of extra chances to find the back of the net. If SU gives 12 free-positions to UNC, it’s going to be a long day against the Tar Heels.
What’s up next for the Syracuse women’s lacrosse team, you ask?
Why that would be a showdown between the top two teams in the country, as the Orange head down to Chapel Hill for their biggest challenge of the season: the No. 1 ranked North Carolina Tar Heels.
The game is next Saturday, April 3 at 11 AM (for some reason) on the ACC Network.
Don’t miss your chance to watch a battle royale between the two best teams in women’s lacrosse. ACC and national supremacy on the line, in what is probably just round one of the 2021 season between these two teams.
Let’s Go Orange!!