Guys, I think the women’s lacrosse team might be pretty good.
The No. 2 Syracuse Orange women’s lacrosse team went down to Durham on Saturday and dispatched the No. 11 Duke Blue Devils, 15-5, to earn Gary Gait the 200th win of his career since he became SU’s head coach in 2008.
Congratulations @garygait on recording his 200th career victory today! Since taking over the helm of the program he has guided the to:— Syracuse Women's Lax (@CuseWLAX) March 6, 2021
2⃣ national title game appearances
7⃣ Final Fours
3⃣ conference championships
7⃣ regular-season league titles pic.twitter.com/VWYziTHu6n
For the third time in three games, coach Gait’s group beat a ranked opponent by double-digits. In the first two games, they did it against Top-5 teams in Loyola and Stony Brook.
The main reason they’ve been able to do that? The defense, led by the incredible work of graduate student goalie Asa Goldstock.
Goldstock stood tall again today, and she wasted no time in doing so. On Duke’s first two possessions of the game, Goldstock made saves on Duke shooters who were wide open right on the crease.
In total, she made a season-high 12 saves while only surrendering four goals before being taken out with a .750 save percentage. It felt like every save Asa made was from within close range, with several of them stonewall jobs right out front of cage.
SU’s zone defense does a great job of making life difficult for offenses. Whenever a pass comes into the middle, they swarm like locusts, creating havoc and very often, a turnover. But even when a team is able to get a good look, Goldstock is there to do what she does best. Even a free position look is no guarantee for the opposition. Today, for example, Asa made four of her saves off free position re-starts.
The combination of SU’s tenacious zone defense and arguably the country’s best goalie in Goldstock is a nightmare for opposing teams to try attacking, as evidenced by the fact that the defense is giving up 5.67 goals per game on the season — just ridiculous.
It wasn't all defense for the Orange today, though, as the offense kept humming right along in the absence of star and leader Emily Hawryschuk.
The stars of the offense on this day were junior Meaghan Tyrrell and freshman Emma Ward. Tyrrell led the way with six points (5G, 1A), while Ward had the best day of her young career with five points (4G, 1A). Ward did not have a goal in her first two games, but exploded for four against the Blue Devils.
After Tyrrell opened the scoring, Duke tied it less than a minute later when the defense actually made a mistake at the 26:08 mark of the first half. They allowed Maddie Jenner to run through the middle of the defense unmarked, where she was found by teammate Gabby Rosenzweig for Duke’s first goal.
That would be the last mistake the defense would make in the first half, as Duke would go into halftime with only one goal on the scoresheet.
While the defense was holding Duke scoreless for over 26 minutes, the SU offense was going on a 9-0 run to end the first half.
Emma Ward got her first goal of the day and her career when she beat her defender from X and rolled around the crease to give the Orange the 2-1 lead that they would never relinquish.
After a couple free position goals from Sam Swart and Ward, Tyrrell got back in the scoring mood with a pair of goals that she scored off some good motion offense from the team.
Towards the end of the nine goal run, Emma Ward continued her fantastic day by putting in a bid for #SCTop10, by going behind-the-back off a feed from Tyrrell:
Have a at freshman Emma Ward #SCTop10. pic.twitter.com/6bEyad0S10— Syracuse Women's Lax (@CuseWLAX) March 6, 2021
Duke opened up the second half scoring by ending their drought at just over 28 minutes, but Syracuse fired right back on Sam Swart’s second of the day, a beautiful quick stick finish on a feed from Megan Carney. Less than a minute later, Ward got her fourth of the day to put the Orange up 12-2 and start the running clock for the third straight game.
From there, SU and Duke traded goals, Goldstock made a few more spectacular saves, Emily Ehle scored her first goal of the season, and Meaghan Tyrrell added two more as ‘Cuse cruised to victory down in Durham.
The offense proved today that they can do it in a variety of ways. Against Stony Brook, the ladies used clinic-level passing to win, assisting on nine of their 16 goals. Today, the offense only recorded three assists on their 15 tallies.
That’s not to say that they weren’t working as a team today. Quite the contrary, but the passing today was part of a motion offense that was reminiscent of the Harlem Globetrotters famed weave that they run at the top of the key on the court. The ladies did something similar today, as the traffic created by all the player motion worked wonders in confusing the Duke defense and helping free up lanes for SU to head for goal. So, the passing was there today, but just not in the tic-tac-toe formation that led to so many assists against Stony Brook.
This offense isn’t just loaded with talent, it’s full of the kind of talent that knows there’s more than one way to get a job done. Today, they showed that.
The Orange ladies will be back in action next week in the Dome when they host perhaps their most difficult opponent of the season, the No. 4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish, for a pair of games over the course of four days.
The first game will be Thursday, March 11 at 7 PM, while the second will come Sunday, March 14 at 12 PM.
The difficult games just keep on coming, and we’ll see if the impressive results will follows, as well. Can’t wait to see the ladies back at home on Thursday.